Subtropical Plants in SE Pennsylvania

What is happening now because our climate is changing here, our zone that we have been has changed because of the microclimate, global warming and more houses, cars and carbon dioxide. Plants that were at one time not hardy here through the winter are, from the zone south of us. Also things that used to like our climate here in the summer time, when the heat gets really bad, no longer like it. So what people are doing now is buying plants under the category of “Subtropicals”. These plants are used to being in a hotter climate and they don’t peter out in the middle of summer.

All of these plants have to be started from cuttings because they are tropicals. They don’t seed themselves very well. You can find them at nurseries or very good flower and flower shops, like Valley Forge Flowers! David, a very knowledgeable horticulturist at VFF, showed some examples of these plants.

Any of the subtropicals can be used indoors and used as house plants. Here is David’s list!

Dragon Wing Begonia, It loves the heat. Can live in the sun or shade.

Ruellia, adds a beautiful blue to your outdoors. Just like the Dragon Wing, it can also take shade.

Angelina, it is a relative of the Snap Dragon. The Snap Dragon loves cool weather and the Angelina thrives in the heat. It seems like no matter how high the numbers reach, this plant thrives.

Lochroma, It is in the nightshade family and has a long trumpet bloom.

Flowering Maple, Traditionally a house plant but loves to be outdoors in the summer.

Plumbago, One of the few “True Blue” flowers. Blue is a hard color to find in a flower.

Oleander, Great pink color!

Hibiscus (Tropical),  There is also a perennial Hibiscus that can stay outside during the winter. It comes in yellows, pinks, and apricot.

Cassandra, This one can also be used as a house plant and brought outside in the summer months.

Gardenia, Very fragrant and has a lovely twist in the bloom.

Coleus, Adds a great foliage!

Caladium,  Loves heat and shade. This one can be trimmed as a topiary if it likes where it is.

Gold Eagle, loves heat, does not flower and acts as a great accent plant.

Lantana, This plant sometimes grows wild in florida. It has a fragrant foliage and a beautiful gradation of colors in the flowers.

Agastache, This plant is a Mexican sage and has an herb quality. It smells great!


If you have any questions, go to your local nursery or garden store. You can always come by Valley Forge Flowers too!

Contact us here: or stop by!




Plant Your Own Terrarium

Terrariums are extremely versatile and be easy customized for any persons taste. Hilly, our terrarium expert from Valley Forge Flowers, suggests first starting with choosing a container to plant in. You can use a tall glass canister, a terrarium, or something similar.

Mulch, pebbles, stones (any type of rock), moss and sand are all acceptable mediums to plant in- feel free to mix and match. Succulents are easy to grow and keep alive. You just need a place for the succulents to root. For a beach theme, collect sand, driftwood, sea glass, shark teeth, anything that represents your favorite shore getaway.  If you are feeling adventurous, add some colored sand or layer it in. Add the succulents- so easy and fabulous!

Below: Inside a BIG  terrarium! The possibilities are endless!

Succulents are similar to a cactus. They thrive best in environments that are well lit but are not a lot of work. All they generally require is a water spritz once a week. They have a rubbery texture and defined leaves.

Pictured below: add a novelty to personalize your terrarium. Sometimes it is fun to add holiday items. Check in with us at Valley Forge Flowers or your local garden store if you need help or advice on this project.

Remember to have fun! Who knew staying on top of the trend could be so easy and light hearted?

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Caring for Your Plants in the Heat of the Summer

It is a great time of year for gardeners! Make sure you are listening to your plants’ needs. Floriculture expert, Marlena Jimenez has some great advice for keep your plants healthy during the hot summer months.

Indoor Plants:

The most important part of having plants is knowing your plants! You have to know their requirements and the types of things that they like. For example succulents, kalanchoes, and orchids all like to be on the dry side. A lot of people think that all plants like to be really wet but that’s not true. Summer is the active growing time for kalanchloes and succulents which means they need more  water than the winter but that still doesn’t mean a lot  of water- every nine days or so if they are living inside. Orchids are generally watered once a week. Ferns on the other hand, like to stay really wet all the time. They do not like to dry out and this is what turns them brown. Herbs you want to dry out in between watering.

Remember to never put hot water on anything!

When Watering, make sure to water THOROUGHLY! If you water and the water runs through quickly, you may not have watered enough (see photo below). Push your finger at least an inch into the soil for an accurate feel of the dry or wetness. If the soil is bone dry, do not be surprised if you need to water it 2 or 3 times. When the soil dries, it shrinks and takes more time to absorb the water.

You think it is watered because it comes out the bottom of the pot…

However if you were to lift the plant out of the pot, you see it is hardly watered…

You should know if your plants like sun or shade. Generally, things dry out faster in the sun than in the shade, this applies for all plants: inside or outside. You also never want to put hot water on anything. Most plants can be moved outside during the warmer months, just be careful and find out what the plant likes.

Outdoor Plants:

Heat with humidity! You are thinking, its so hot I should water them!- not necessarily. Plants gather moisture from the air so they could be fine, always check the soil to see. No humidity and you may have to water twice a day. Don’t forget about wind! Wind dries out plants really fast. Dod it rain? Yes but did it rain enough to soak through your container? You will have to check! If not, you are going to have to water again.

Here is an example of a plant that dried out too many times: you can easily clean this up, pinch some of the top buds off to stimulate new growth and then continue to water, you may be surprised at what you can revive!

Is the plant in the ground or in a pot? If it is in the ground, the ground water tends to “stay”, there is more places for water. Container, less protection for the roots which means it will dry out faster due to the elements. Also, make sure your plants are in proper pot sizes otherwise you will rot the roots.

Pot that is too big:

(Below) The roots are not developed enough for the size of the pot

Pot is too small (below)

Examples of dry plants: flowering vinca, geraniums, begonia.

Examples of wet plants: petunias, million bells

Herbs and Dahlia like to be moist in between waterings when outside.

Hanging baskets should be watered until the water drips down out of the bottom of the basket.

Plants like to be watered in the morning, but if it looks thirsty right now, water it. You drink when you are thirsty, so should your plants! Remember that water systems are not a replacement for good plant care. You want to make sure the plants are still getting proper amounts of water since most watering systems are on timers and not done by ground moisture or other outside factors (wind, humidity). Check to see what your settings are and listen to your plant needs!

Try to get a routine, you drink water every day and your plants do too! Marlena suggests using a shower head for even watering. Make sure you feel the water to see that is is cold.

Make sure to do your research, we are only a phone call away, (610)-687-5566. Relax and enjoy your garden

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