how to figure out what seeds to send to a friend?

Hi all,
I just got back from a trip to Guatemala, and the people in the guest house I stayed in asked me to send them some flower seeds. However, since I live in New Jersey, I have no idea what kinds of seeds would work in Antigua, Guatemala, where the year-round temperature is basically 60 - 80 degrees with a rainy season and a dry season. I'm mostly looking for plants that can be grown in a container, and that would grow well in the climate of Antigua.
How would I go about ascertaining this information? Is there a website that I could go to, or do I need to have more detailed information before I can order the proper seeds? The reason I want to know is because a previous guest once sent these people a few bulbs from Holland, and none of them ever grew, and I'd like to make sure that I don't send plants that either won't germinate or will grow poorly in the local climate.
Any information from some of the experts in this group would be greatly appreciated!
Applecandy
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Dear Candysnapple, for somebody from New Jersey, you ask a lot of stupid questions.
You should never have said you were going to send them seeds in the first place. They should be sending you seeds of plant you can grow as houseplants instead.
Obviously, none of the plants you grow outdoors in New Jersey are adapted for growing in the tropics.
Send them seeds of plants that you can grow outdoors in peninsular Florida instead.

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The previous post was particularly unhelpful. The climate you describe is much like our zone 10, which includes a lot of coastal southern California, except for the rain. Many of the plants we grow as annuals are subtropical in origin and should germinate and do well in that climate, specially in containers. Impatiens should work, as would morning glories (Ipomoea), seed dahlias, brugmansia or daturas, heliotrope, pentas and even more common things like petunias and nasturtiums. Some of these may grow naturally there, but you could get some more specific cultivars that would be less common. Avoid sending seeds of our more common perennials - most will require a period of dormancy that will be non-existant in that climate.
pam - gardengal

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Thanks for your advice, Pam, I will look into those varieties as possibilities.
You are right that the previous post wasn't especially helpful to me, but the poster seems fairly knowledgeable and I'm hoping that maybe s/he will be posting a bit more detailed information in response to my reply.
Thanks for your help,
Applecandy
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You are saying New Jersey has the same climate as southern California?
Are you on crack?
You surely could not have visited both places because their climates are extremely different.
Neither is even close to the tropical climate of Guatemala, which is nothing like that of zone 10 in the US and certainly not even remotely close to the Mediterranean climate of southern California.
The plant seeds you suggest are not even those native to the US anyway. None of them grow naturally in Guatemala either. Most wouldn't survive very long in the tropical climate of Guatemala. Most of the plants that grow in Guatemala would need to be grown in a botanical garden in the US and that should give you some idea what would be better suited for growing there.

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SNIP!
Actually, there are several very distinct climates in Guatemala, because it has both a Carribean and a Pacific coastline, and quite an array of mountain ranges. The area that includes the capital and Antigua is at an elevation that means that the temperature rarely goes above 80F, and at a latitudinal position that means that the temperature rarely goes below 60F. When I think about "tropical" climates I think of much higher temperatures and also generally higher rainfall than occurs in Antigua.
The problem that I am having is that the situation I encountered in Antigua doesn't seem like anything I've been able to read about on the Internet, because as you said the situation in Guatemala is rather remote from the conditions in USA zone 10. I was hoping to find some suggestions about plants that would at least provide a season's worth of flowers down there, and thank you to pam for your suggestion of Impatiens, Ipomoea {morning glories}, dahlias, brugmansia/daturas, heliotrope, pentas, & petunias and nasturtiums. If I don't get any more concrete information I'll probably look into getting a few packs of the varieties you suggested.
Hopefully someone else can provide either some more suggestions or a commentary on the above-listed plants. I appreciate any and all advice.
Applecandy
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SNIP!
Actually, there are several very distinct climates in Guatemala, because it has both a Carribean and a Pacific coastline, and quite an array of mountain ranges. The area that includes the capital and Antigua is at an elevation that means that the temperature rarely goes above 80F, and at a latitudinal position that means that the temperature rarely goes below 60F. When I think about "tropical" climates I think of much higher temperatures and also generally higher rainfall than occurs in Antigua.
The problem that I am having is that the situation I encountered in Antigua doesn't seem like anything I've been able to read about on the Internet, because as you said the situation in Guatemala is rather remote from the conditions in USA zone 10. I was hoping to find some suggestions about plants that would at least provide a season's worth of flowers down there, and thank you to pam for your suggestion of Impatiens, Ipomoea {morning glories}, dahlias, brugmansia/daturas, heliotrope, pentas, & petunias and nasturtiums. If I don't get any more concrete information I'll probably look into getting a few packs of the varieties you suggested.
Hopefully someone else can provide either some more suggestions or a commentary on the above-listed plants. I appreciate any and all advice.
Applecandy
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Without resorting to any similar ad hominid attacks, it is quite apparent you need to do a bit more homework. Guatemala has a range of climatic conditions ranging from tropical rainforests to subtropical areas in which the climate is virtually unchangeable year round except for rainy and dry seasons, as well as higher altitude pine and grassland savanahs in which the climate resembles large parts of our own southern midwest. As to Guatemalan plants needing to be grown in a botancial garden here in the US, lets look at a few of these Guatemalan natives:
Selected species of: mimosas and acacias maidenhair ferns fuchsias heliotrope bidens cuphea (aka Mexican Heather, bat plant) cleome dahlias Ipomoea - morning glories capiscum - peppers solanums oaks and pines bald cypress various ornamental grasses ageratum scutellaeria selaginella lisianthus gaultheria passionflower
I find a fair amount of these sold as annuals or veggies at my local nursery and some of course are extremely hardy (and relatively common) in many parts of our country.
Not to mention that Guatemala is a huge exporter of melons, avocodo, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, snap peas and a whole host of common flowers for the florist trade. Sounds a bit like the ag biz of Southern California, doesn't it? A good portion of the produce you find in your supermarket during the winter months was grown in central America. So to make a statement that plants grown here can't or won't grow in in Guatemala or vice versa is just plain silly and very uninformed.
And I didn't notice where the OP specified that the plants she intended to provide had to be natives - she merely requested ones that would provide a long season of color and that would grow easily from seed in a container .
pam - gardengal
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Applecandy) wrote in message

Sorry if it's considered bad protocol to reply to my own question, but...
Let's say I want to send my friends some marigolds. I know that in my own climate (in central NJ), marigolds can be planted outside after the last frost, will last one season, and will go to seed before the first frost in autumn. For my friends in Antigua, what would I tell them about planting marigolds in their climate, where there is no frost to consider, and where the year-round temperature basically never goes below 60F and rarely above 80F? When should I tell them to plant the seeds, and what should they expect from the plants from their growing season? How do annuals work in a climate like this? And what about perennials, which would regenerate after a cold winter of dormancy here?
Another question--should I look at the tropical seeds that are available from some online catalogs? I would think of them as something more suitable for a climate where the temperature is regularly above the average high that occurs in Antigua, but I really have no idea.
Please forgive my ignorance about matters of gardening, which is pretty pathetic considering that my mom is a pretty accomplished gardener. If I don't receive any replies to this question I'll give her a call to see if she knows what I should do, although never having lived in a frost-free environment she might not be all that sure herself.
Any advice, guidance, or suggestions are highly appreciated. Thank you!
Applecandy
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There's one big factor that I don't think you're considering... sending seeds to many countries (or receiving them from another country) often requires a phytosanitary certificate. This is to help protect local crops from accidentally imported pests and diseases, which could be potentially devastating (e.g., Dutch Elm Disease, SOD, Asian Longhorn Beetle in US). Other countries are equally concerned about US diseases being imported into their country. If you're still interested, have your friends find out what the rules are in their country for receiving imported seeds.
Here, for instance, is some information on phytosanitary requirements for plant materials brought into the USA: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/fs_phnursery.html http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/seeds/seedweb.html Other countries may have similar rules.
Sorry to rain on the parade... it's often easier to give your friends a gift certificate for a seed company that has the permits in place.
Kay Lancaster snipped-for-privacy@fern.com
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Actually, I'm pretty sure I can send packages of seeds from places like Park's or Burpee, which are well-sealed, but I'll look into the phytosanitary requirements for Guatemala just to be sure. Thanks for the advice.
I've seen a few places with the final dregs of this year's flower seeds on super-duper clearance, would it make sense for me to send a few of these with the advice that the plants would bloom for a year only if they germinated at all? Even in the very unchanging and temperate climate of Antigua, wouldn't these at least bloom once? Or are the blooming cycles affected by the different lengths of day & night, something that certainly doesn't occur in Antigua the way it does in North America?
Again, I appreciate any replies and/or advice. Thanks!
Applecandy
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Well-sealed isn't the issue... because there are a fairly large number of seed-borne diseases that can survive quite nicely in a packet, sealed or otherwise. What matters is if the seed lot has been tested for the specific pathogens that they're trying to exclude.
Kay
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