Last of the Chill

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This should be it. The last of some quick short drops in temps in Connecticut during the evening. When I got up this morning around 5 am, it was 42 degrees. Now at 7 am, it is 48 degrees. Call me picky but tropical plants really don’t like below 50 degrees F.

So, what did I do? I took some Mandevilla plants into my house last night. As an “extra” precaution. The drop in temp didn’t last long (a couple hours) but I was being extra cautious because I’m planting these Mandevillas at a site tomorrow. The last thing I want is problems right before planting day.

I had some issues with Mandevilla last year and this has led me to being frustrated with them. Sure, “IF” they are healthy to start with AND the temperatures are well suited for them to grow well, all is good. Little to no problems. But “IF” they are having issues even before picking them up, it leads to problems (e.g., leaf drop, leaf yellowing, blooms with brown spots, or tips of the vines blackened). I’ve seen it all. And as you probably know, they are not cheap. They are a pricier plant, so we don’t want issues with them.

This frustration led me to do some researching and I am reading some thrip insect issues are occurring in Florida on many plants and Mandevilla was listed as being one of them. Thrips are a big PIA in the planting growing industry. Is this why the Mandevillas are showing up with problems? Not sure, but that problem is bigger than little old me can handle. It is a issue to the insect experts in the industry. So far, I don’t see thrips on my plants and that is good. You don’t want those pests in your growing environments.

So, I am very careful about which Mandevilla plants I buy when it comes to Mandevilla now. I inspect them carefully and if I see signs of issues, I stay away from those. I literally hand pick them. If I see an issue, I immediately say nope.

Mandevillas tend to show up at our local nurseries early in the season, but they are heat loving plants. The nurseries will usually keep them indoors in their greenhouses until it is warm enough outside. Or they should be in my opinion. Otherwise, they get exposed and can develop issues.

When I pick up Mandevillas before outdoor safe planting time, which I prefer actually not to do (pick up too early but sometimes you have to or they may run out), I keep them in the greenhouse if it is below 50 F degrees outdoors still and put them outside during the days when warm and sunny. Most of the time, I put them on my driveway where it heats up well and there is some protection by the garage wall during the day.

We have had beautiful weather the past two weeks (minus the late spring frost we got on 5/17-5/18). On those nights when it was either a frost or a quick low temp hit which does not frost but low temp (lower than 50 degress F) – I’ve had to carry them back inside. It is a PIA. Because the pots are heavy and they have long tall 5-6 foot poles in them. But it gives me a bit of a workout. LOL.

But is that worth it? Are planting vining Mandevilla plants worth all the trouble? Absolutely yes, when they thrive. Which my plantings have for several years. I feel like issues surfaced more with them the past couple of years and that is frustrating for little ol’ me. I’ve written about Mandevillas before, and how wonderful they are and what a beautiful show they put on. It is on my other website, here is the link:

Stunning photos of Mandevillas planted by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT.

I’m hoping this morning’s quick chill was the last of it. My house had the company of some nice blooming Mandevilla last night which I will once again carry back outside today. Today will be a stunning day. Full of sunshine so that is good. Oh! Yesterday it wasn’t just the drop (a quick one) but it was windy too. I could feel that whip of cold air at times even when the sun was out.

As I’ve said repeatedly, Memorial Day is the safe time to start planting warm loving tropicals and warm-loving vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, etc.). And it is also safe for Basil. Basil does not like the cold. When I walked to my greenhouse this morning, I was still in my PJ’s and slippers (too lazy to put on my flipflops), and the ground was very cold and wet. That to me is a reminder, the ground is still very chilly. Containers are a big of a different story and warmer. But you get the idea. The ground is cold until it warms up well which should be happening now that we are past this cold crap, LOL.

We are scoring an amazing weekend of weather for Memorial Day – AMEN! Will be perfect to do my site plantings and get started on my home plantings. It has been so very tempting to cheat – remember in April? We had an 89 degree F day! WTF. That is nuts, right? What happened is everyone got antsy. One garden center told me people were asking for tomato plants in April – that is way too early for them to be planted but I think everyone got super anxious and I don’t blame them. I did too.

I only tempted fate by putting out my agaves and cacti. On the late frost we got, I covered them with sheets that night. Cacti, remember, can take a dip in cold – that happens in the dessert where they are from. But tender annuals, tomatoes, etc. – that would impact them, and it may not show up right away. What happens is they may look fine but they won’t grow if they were exposed to too cold of temps They will just sit there – stubborn as heck.

Well, rant over! It is go-time this weekend. I need a real good night of sleep tonight and then working tomorrow. I see it will be like a summer day! 70 degrees expected tomorrow. That is nice. No rain, no cold, just warm sunshine with the birds and tree frogs chirping. Finally.

Oh, and why did I carry these into the house? Cause my greenhouse is full and plus it was a shorter walk, LOL. My cat curled up under them and slept there last night. Guess she likes the Mande vibe.

Enjoy your weekend!

Cathy Testa
Plant Crazy Enthusiast (this blog) (misc plant services) (container services)

Cozy for the Nite
Inspecting the Blooms
Nice blooms on this one.