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jrod

Do annuals exist in the tropics?

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jrod

Here is a question that really stumped me.  As some of you may know, I'm a horticulture student but I'd like to see if anybody had any answers to my question.

We are growing many different types of annuals in one of my greenhouse classes such as petunia, calibrachoa, lantana, verbena, geraniums, Coleus, bacopa, Alyssum.

The other day I was in the greenhouse and one of my friends asked me, "If I keep these plants in the greenhouse over the winter, will they still die?"  So I told him, "No, they'll live." After I said that, another student said, "Yes, they will die."

I didn't really want to argue but from what I understand, annual plants are mostly perennial in the tropics.  To simplify what I'm getting at:

Do annuals exist in the tropics?

I'm really interested in what the true answer really is.

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_Keith

I will give you the lawyer's answer to everything, "that depends"

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Jerry@TreeZoo

Impatiens, which are really biennials, come from New Guinea.  Maybe the highlands but still the tropics.  If you really baby them, you can get two years out of them.  Some annuals just look crappy after one season so they are tossed, but in a perfect environment are perennials.  Others reseed themselves and appear to be perennials but are really short lived (only a season or two).

Jerry

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steve 9atx

jrod

Almost everything on your list will make it through a mild winter here.  We have alyssum in our citrus pots from last year and a very happy impatient in a pot hanging on the fence that's at least from last year, if not older.

Steve

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_Keith

Last winter was so mild that even my Petunias didn't die.

But back to the actual topic of the thread, are there annuals in the tropics.  I suspect that there are, but they are triggered more by the monsoon season, as opposed to our temperate and subtropical annuals that tend to be triggered by temperature.  Perhaps Don of the Amazon could answer.  

Speaking of Don.  Where ya been?  You are another whose absense is noted, and you are missed.

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SubTropicRay

I would guess a Trachycarpus might last a year or two.

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Al in Kona

By Definition, an annual is a plant that grows, flowers, sets seed, and dies in the same season.  However, in a tropical climate many "annuals" remain alive and continue to grow and flower though often less vigorously than during their first season.  Cutting them back sometimes helps to spurt new growth.  Others grow, reseed themselves regardless of the climatic conditions.  After their second year many just lose their vigor, fade away or are better off being replaced.  A few will coninue to grow longer but get woody and "overgrown" - Vincas, Pentas, etc.  Each annual flower handles the tropics a little differently.  Most of the heat resistant annuals will grow well here.  Vinca, Portulaca, Pentas, Angelonia, Dahlberg daisy, Wheat Celosia, Impatients, Bidens, Gazania, Hunnemannia (Mexican Tulip poppy) all are good easy care "annuals in our Hawaii garden.  Due to reseeding some of these plants have naturalized on the property.  Pic below shows how well the Mexican Tulip Poppies do for us - these are all reseed (not planted by us).

post-90-1207393822_thumb.jpg

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metalfan

We get major reseeding on the impatiens. We never have to buy new impatiens, even freezes into the low 20's do not rob us of them. They volunteer profusely every season, and all you have to do is wait for them to attain a little size, pull them up, and relocate them to where ever you want them. Which is nice, I won't generally waste my plant dollars on them because they are a favorite food of our pesky deer population.

I have impatiens in just about every nursery pot in my greenhouse that ever spends even a few days outside in summer, and the impatiens do live year round in the climate controlled simulated summer of the greenhouse, and get so large and spread so much I have to pull them out by the handfuls and toss them on the compost.

Coleus will very rarely reseed itself here from one season to the next, it seems depends a lot on whether there is a large enough population that is allowed to flower and seed (I tend to pinch the flowers off as they form to keep them from getting leggy). I kind of stopped wasting my $$ on coleus too as deer find it VERY tasty.

I have never been one to plant a lot of annuals. We planted some CUban buttercup in a flowerbed by the pool last year and the "garden guru" in the newspaper was telling everyone not to waste their $$ on it as it was an "overly expensive annual" but mine has all come back as a perennial, go figure.

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amazondk

(keiththibodeaux @ Apr. 04 2008,16:38)

QUOTE
Last winter was so mild that even my Petunias didn't die.

But back to the actual topic of the thread, are there annuals in the tropics.  I suspect that there are, but they are triggered more by the monsoon season, as opposed to our temperate and subtropical annuals that tend to be triggered by temperature.  Perhaps Don of the Amazon could answer.  

Speaking of Don.  Where ya been?  You are another whose absense is noted, and you are missed.

Keith,

Nice to know that I may be missed.  I have been quite busy attending to business lately.  I am about to take the drive north to Boa Vista with our Dutch customer tomorrow and will be in in internet never never land for a while.  As to annuals here in my part of the tropics I imagine they exist.  But, you will find them in disturbed land which has been altered by man or nature.  The natural scheme of things here is to convert disturbed land to forest and that means that plants colonize and are overcome by other plants.  In the end it ends up in climax forest.  In my area neither temperature nor percipitation will kill a plant as it never feeezes and we have enough rainfall year around for all plants I would imagine.  So, maybe there is no such thing as an annual.  But, there are plenty of plants that have limited life spans due to changes in the ecosystem.

dk

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_Keith

Don, I was thinking of plants that might be submerged and die as the seasonal waters rise, but whose seeds are spead around by the waters so that when the waters subside, the seeds sprout to complete another annual cycle of growth and seed production.  It seems that I witness this in the Atchafalaya Basin here, but since our flood run semi concurrent with the seasons, flooding early spring to mid summer, it might be seasonal.  It is something that I never really looked into.  But I will now.

Thanks Jared for the thought provoking question.

PS - Very nice Sturgeon too.

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amazondk

Keith,

I am not sure but I believe that certain grasses would fit this profile.  As the waters rise and fall grasses come an go.  We have big chunks of grass that break off and float down the river to the Atlantic.

dk

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Dave-Vero

There are certainly annual plants in tropical climates with dry seasons.  I think the old-fashioned Impatiens balsaminea (which thrives in Puerto Rico and is evidently native to India) would be an example.  

A web resource on invasive plants of Hawai'i and the Pacific (HEAR) could be helpful.  Lots of garden "annuals" running wild.

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palmtiki

(amazondk @ Apr. 05 2008,11:41)

QUOTE
Keith,

I am not sure but I believe that certain grasses would fit this profile.  As the waters rise and fall grasses come an go.  We have big chunks of grass that break off and float down the river to the Atlantic.

dk

I agree. The grasses might be a good example of annuals in the tropics. Every Fall, I see Poa annua (annual blue grass) come up in my Bermuda grass lawn near the north side of my house. When the sun gets low at that time of the year a portion of my lawn is in the shade for most of the day during the Winter. In the Springtime such as right now, I am getting more sun in that area and the tufts of Poa annua are already turning yellow and dieing back as the Bermuda grass is beginning to perk up. In another month, the Poa will totally disappear. The Poa seeds lay dormant until Fall when the cycle repeats itself.

Bob

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