Dreams of tropical garden coming true

James Layton and his mom LeAnn check out their newly constructed greenhouse to help expand his tropical garden dreams.

MANTI—For 13-year-old James Layton, growing a lush, tropical garden in his own backyard hasn’t been easy.

According to his mother LeAnn, James hasn’t always loved plants; it didn’t come until he was a little older. 

His first attempt to grow plants came from a mango pit. Though it was unsuccessful, it didn’t stop him from trying again.  In 2019, he started his garden with a small kiwi seed and it has now grown to 24 varieties of fruits, trees and plants. 

With the success of the kiwi, he planted lemon, avocado and orange seeds, which all have sprouted successfully. He has also planted the top of a pineapple in hopes it will grow, but it will take a little more patience as it take two years.

One of James more successful stories is his now 6-foot tall banana tree. His first attempt with purchased seeds failed.

He feels lucky that he was able to get a shoot off a big banana tree from a Snow College greenhouse; it has turned out to be his favorite plant. He has been growing it for a little over a year, but not always with success. He thought that he was going to lose it at one point.

“The plant got transplant shock, and the leaves started turning brown and I thought it was going to die, so I put some cow manure on it from our cows and it snapped out of it,” he said.

James really wants to grow an achacha tree, a highly prized tropical fruit tree that’s grown in Bolivia’s Amazon Basin. Another desire of his is a jaboticaba tree. They are typically grown in Brazil and have fruit growing on the trunk and branches making the tree look like it is covered in purple cysts.

He loves learning about exotic fruits and plants on YouTube and loves to go to Asian markets to get exotic fruits and always saves the seeds to grow. He would love to someday visit South America and explore the Amazon.

Now that the house is being overgrown with all the different plants, the family has constructed a greenhouse to help with James’ dreams of planting more exotic plants. 

“I have told him to keep trying new plants and new fruits because he could sell them and turn it into a business,” his mom said. “Every time he does sell plants or fruit he ends up buying more to try.”

He wants to be a botanist and explore new countries and of course try new fruits. He wants to eventually create his own websites so he can sell some of his exotic fruit trees and plants. You can follow him on his quest to grow his tropical garden on Facebook at James’ Jungle.