How to Select Plants for a Tropical Garden

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How many of us live in non-tropical areas but crave the tropical gardens that we visit once a year. This article will provide steps on how to re-create a tropical paradise in your own yard, around your hot-tub, around your outdoor room.  The plants are selected for being cold hardy but close cousins of the plants found in the tropics or sub-tropical areas. 

 
First, Start with a border of low plants such as hostas and impatiens that can provide a lot of lush plants and color. It will take a couple years for the hostas to really take hold. Depending on how dense you want the border to look, consider adding Ferns such as Ostrich and Lady Fern.  Another fern that can withstand sun is the Kimberly Queen Fern.  This is not cold hardy and will need to be taken inside in the winter.

Then, fill in the next foot of the perimeter that grow up to 6 to 10 feet tall in one season. This can include Giant Elephant Ears, Persian Palm Elephant Ears, Black Magic Elephant Ears, ornamental banana’s and Lilies.  These tubors will need to be lifted in the fall and brought inside to the garage for winter storage.  Return outside when the nights are warm in the spring.

For the final and outermost perimeter, plant cold hardy palms such as Chusan or Blue Fan Palms. For a tree, choose a Mimosa/Silk tree.

Tropical flowering vines are some of the most iconic plants of the tropics. For the continental U.S. plant perennial vines like the trumpet Vine and annuals vines such as Climbing Shell Plant. Provide vertical structures to support the vines to trail throughout your tropical garden.

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