Tropical plants zone 8

Tropical Plants For Outdoor Use in Georgia

What is a “tropical plant”?

Simply put, tropical plants are plants which are native to the tropical regions of world. You know, where there are tropical rain forests and such. Tropical plants have developed to live in the warm and very humid environment of the tropics

Thanks to the consistent climate conditions in the areas where these plants evolved, tropical plants have a number of very specific adaptations which make them very unique. Many people in warmer tropical and subtropical regions, where temperatures remain warm year around, like to use tropical plants in landscaping. in colder regions tropical plants are often grown indoors as houseplants or outdoors for seasonal color and to provide a tropical feel to a landscape or garden. That being said, there are some species and cultivars of tropical plants, such as hardy bananas, palms, canna lilies and elephant ears that are quite cold hardy, and are successfully being grown as perennials in landscapes and gardens throughout the southern United States.

Below are lists of both cold hardy and tender (not cold hardy) tropical plants.

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

*NOTE: *When I use the term “Cold Hardy,” this does not necessarily mean a plant will be hardy in your area. Always check for USDA Hardiness Zones listed for a particular plant or consult with your local nursery and garden center professional as to hardiness.

Banana Trees – There are several varieties of cold hardy banana that can be grown year around outdoors in southern regions of the U.S.. The Japanese Fiber Banana is one example of these. When grown in the U.S., there isn’t a long enough warm season to produce a crop of bananas. But hey, there’s no better plant to bring the tropical feel to your outdoor living areas!

Canna Lily – Canna lilies grow somewhat like corn but with much larger leaves. They produce large, colorful, iris-like flowers throughout the warm season, usually to first frost in the fall. There are many varieties of Canna Lily that are hardy to USDA Zone 7.

Elephant Ears – There are many varieties of elephat ear, particularly those in the genus ‘Colocasia’, which are very hardy in southern regions of the U.S.. In northern regions that experience much colder winters, elephant ears can be grown as an annual. They are perfect accents for annual flower beds and container plantings. The hardiest elephant ear I’ve grown in my own garden is ‘Diamond Head’; one of the black-leaf cultivars. Illustris, and Black Magic are also very hardy.

Palms -There are many varieties of cold hardy palms that be grown as far north as USDA Zone 6. Among the hardiest are Windmill, Pindo, European Fan, Cabbage (Sabal Palmetto), and the Needle Palm.\

Go to next page to see a list of tender tropical plants you can grow seasonally to bring a taste and feel of the tropics to your outdoor living areas.

Tropical Plants Atlanta GA

Shane Tinker Enterprises Offers Expert Advice, Great Varieties for Year-Round Beauty

Just as we humans adjust to the changing of the seasons, so too do our plants. When it comes to tropical plants and tropical flowers, Atlanta, GA homeowners look to Shane Tinker Enterprises for the right advice to keep plants growing strong all year long. As a leading provider of wholesale tropical flowers and plants, you can rely on our knowledge and experience to bring you the greenery you can enjoy every season.

Here are 5 tips to selecting the right tropical plants in Atlanta GA for spring.

  1. Moving Back Outside

The first place to start is with the tropical plants you moved inside for the winter. Moving those plants back outdoors should be done with care. Tropical flowers and plants need to adjust to more direct sunlight and a sudden move to full outdoor light can leave them sunburned. Also make sure that nighttime temperatures are no lower than 50 degrees F before shifting. Wind and rain can also be traumatic for plants that have lived in relative luxury for a season, so make sure to pick the right spot.

  1. Combine With Annuals

Combining tropical foliage plants with annuals in the same bed can create lovely contrasts of color, texture and height. Now is the time to consider purchasing spring blooming plants as gifts for holidays and perfectly timed planting conditions. Angel Trumpets, Blue Sky Vines, Hibiscuses and Red Dipladenias are among great tropical plant options for this time of year,

  1. Plan for Pollinators

Spring is a time for renewal for plants and insects alike. Consider plants and flowers that will be friendly for bees, butterflies and birds that will help to keep the circle of life going. At Shane Tinker Enterprises, we provide wholesale tropical flowers to help create gardens that attract the right kinds of fauna to keep your plants working. We can also advise you on how to build gardens and care for them to ensure that plants and pollinators alike thrive. We can advise on bloom times, shapes and sizes, treatments and water usage that lets your ecosystem excel.

  1. Pots and Plantings

Variety is the spice of life in Atlanta, GA, and your outdoor space is no exception. In Atlanta Georgia, some tropical plants might lend themselves better to being in planters or pots at least initially. This flexibility lets you create a beautiful landscape design that highlights and features a wide variety of species.

  1. Turn to the Experts

When you need advice on tropical plants, the growing conditions and the many varieties available, you want someone on your side who knows all there is to know about tropical plants. At Shane Tinker Enterprises, we’ve helped commercial landscapers, flower shop owners, homeowners and anyone else choose the right plants and flowers since 2000. If we don’t have the tropical plant or flower you want, we work hard to find it and deliver it to you fast. We offer a broad range of services, including nursery and plant brokerage, plant ordering and tagging.

If you are looking for tropical plants in Atlanta GA turn to Shane Tinker Enterprises and contact us at 352/735-8350.

The USDA Hardiness Zone Map is a map with regions defined by a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. This map divides North America into 11 separate zones. The higher the zone number, the warmer the area.

Information from the zone map helps gardeners to compare their garden climates and determine what plants will grow in their area. Keep in mind, this map only shows average annual minimum temperatures and doesn’t take into consideration important factors like soil types, rainfall, daytime temperatures, day length, wind, humidity and heat.

Those factors are very important and play a key role in healthy palm growth and development. Knowing your hardiness zone is just not enough. A good example would be Portland, OR and Austin, TX. Even though they are both located in the Zone 8, their climates are dramatically different.

This map was created by Arbor Day Foundation who has recently completed an extensive updating of U.S. Hardiness Zones based upon data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental United States.

Find your hardiness zone

Palm Trees by State

Find out what palm trees can grow in your state:

State Zones State Zones
Alaska Palm Trees 1 – 7b Montana Palm Trees 2a – 6a
Alabama Palm Trees 7a – 8b Nebraska Palm Trees 4a – 6a
Arizona Palm Trees 4b – 10a Nevada Palm Trees 4a – 9b
Arkansas Palm Trees 6a – 8b New Hampshire Palm Trees 3a – 6a
California Palm Trees 4a – 10b New Jersey Palm Trees 5a – 7b
Colorado Palm Trees 2b – 6b New Mexico Palm Trees 3b – 8a
Connecticut Palm Trees 5a – 7a New York Palm Trees 3a – 7b
Delaware Palm Trees 6b – 7b North Carolina Palm Trees 5b – 8b
Washington DC Palm Trees 6b – 7b North Dakota Palm Trees 2b – 4b
Florida Palm Trees 8a – 11 Ohio Palm Trees 5a – 7a
Georgia Palm Trees 6b – 9a Oklahoma Palm Trees 5b – 8a
Hawaii Palm Trees 10a – 11 Oregon Palm Trees 3b – 9b
Idaho Palm Trees 2b – 7a Pennsylvania Palm Trees 4b – 7b
Illinois Palm Trees 4a – 7a Rhode Island Palm Trees 5b – 7a
Indiana Palm Trees 5a – 6b South Carolina Palm Trees 6b – 9a
Iowa Palm Trees 3b – 6a South Dakota Palm Trees 3a – 5b
Kansas Palm Trees 5a – 6b Tennessee Palm Trees 5b – 7b
Kentucky Palm Trees 5b – 7a Texas Palm Trees 6a – 10a
Louisiana Palm Trees 7b – 9b Utah Palm Trees 3a – 8b
Maine Palm Trees 3a – 6b Vermont Palm Trees 3b – 5a
Maryland Palm Trees 5a – 8a Virginia Palm Trees 5b – 8b
Massachusetts Palm Trees 4b – 7b Washington Palm Trees 4a – 9a
Michigan Palm Trees 3a – 6b West Virginia Palm Trees 5a – 7a
Minnesota Palm Trees 2a – 5a Wisconsin Palm Trees 2b – 5a
Mississippi Palm Trees 6b – 8b Wyoming Palm Trees 2a – 5b
Missouri Palm Trees 4b – 7a

Applying zone references

In the palm profile you might have seen reference to zone or range of zones. If a palm is hardy to zone 7, that means it can withstand lowest temperatures of that zone. If there is a range of zones like 7-10, that means it can grow only in those zones and will not tolerate colder or warmer temperatures.


If you live in a microclimate, that is an area with slightly different climate from a general climate of a region, then you might be able to grow more/less palms in your garden. Even within a city, a street, or a spot protected by a warm wall in your own garden, there may be microclimates that affect how plants grow.

USDA Zones

Here is a list of zones with avg. annual low temperatures:

~Susan Brian

  • How to Save Cold Damaged Palm Tree
  • Top 10 Cold Hardy Palms
  • Importance of Microclimate When Choosing Cold Hardy Palms
  • Top 5 Factors Affecting Cold Hardy Palm Tree Growth

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As a botanist who grew up in tropical Singapore I have always been in love with exotic garden style, but not in the way you might expect. As a kid I was obsessed with creating an English country garden in sweltering rainforest conditions, begging my grandmother in Wales to mail me packets of sweetpea and nasturtium seeds so I could sow them in trays by air-conditioning vents and in chiller cabinets. To me these were impossibly exotic, otherworldly plants I only knew from storybooks.

Flash forward 30 years, however, and in the tiny Croydon patch I now have to play with I am forever experimenting with ornamental plants with massive jungly leaves and carnival-like flowers. You see, to me gardening is all about escapism, and playing with nature to create your very own fantasy world accessible from your front door.

Sadly, in the UK, tropical-effect gardening has become synonymous with huge expense and tricky to care for, often painfully slow-growing plants. Yet if you get your species choice right, you don’t have to splash out a small fortune on towering palms or tree ferns to get a flavour of faraway places. To prove it here are some of my favourite plants that provide massive impact in a single season from a modestly priced packet of seed or bulbs.

Eucalyptus are some of the fastest-growing trees on earth and can reach 6ft in a single season from a packet of seed. I love the frost-hardy cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) for its bright silver foliage, that can be kept at a manageable size by being cut right back to the base each spring, from where it produces its flushes of disc-shaped, powdery foliage.

Green light: the lovely leaves of the cider gum. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

For truly massive leaves, the foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa) can also be sown from seed and is extremely fast-growing. If whacked to the base each spring, it can throw out leaves the size of dustbin lids on branches 9ft high by the autumn. Other super quick, great impact foliage plants from seed include ricinus, echiums and solenostemon.

If it’s flowers you’re after, cannas, tree lilies and hedychiums will all put on a spectacular show year after year from an inexpensive packet of rhizomes – and from their very first summer, too. But to me the most quirky and cool of all the summer bulbs is the pineapple lily (Eucomis sp), a super easy to grow plant that in my experience can take all the cold and neglect you can give it. Eucomis bicolor has spectacular-sized cream and apple green flowers with a delicate purple lining, while Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, as the name suggests, kicks the shocking purple pigment into overdrive.

With plants like these, anyone can have a storybook jungle in their back yard for less than the price of a meal out.

Email James at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Botanygeek

Guide to Growing Tropical Plants

Tropicals are a natural choice for growing in containers. Just give them enough elbowroom to spread their roots. They’re hardwired to grow and won’t thrive for long in 10- or 12-inch pots. Plants like Cannas will outgrow — and possibly crack — even 14-inch pots in a single growing season. Some tropicals achieve significant height during the growing season and will quickly topple pots that are too small. In the landscape, the easy-growing habits of tropicals make every gardener feel like an expert. These plants tend to produce luxurious growth with remarkable speed, so you can savor the fruits of little labor yet garner sincere compliments from neighbors. Don’t want to wait? You can create an instant tropical paradise by purchasing large plants in 3-gallon pots. Most often, you’ll find these larger pot sizes at independently owned garden centers. If you’re happy to start with gallon-size pots and watch your tropical garden grow, check out the offerings at discount stores and home centers.

The Secret to Big, Bold Beauty

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Tropicals need heat to thrive. For the most part, they don’t demand heavy-duty coddling to achieve lush growth. They typically leap from the ground when summer heat builds. For most tropical plants, simply providing full sun and ample water yields jungle-size leaves and showstopping flowers. It’s worth digging into the exact fertilizer needs of specific plants to be sure you’re delivering the right nutrition. In general, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or aged compost worked into the soil ensures a steady supply of larger, more numerous leaves. Choose this regimen for plants prized for their glorious foliage, such as Canna or elephant’s ear.

A bloom-booster fertilizer encourages abundant blossoms and is a must with flowering tropicals, such as angel’s trumpet, Mandevilla, and Chinese hibiscus. Using a liquid fertilizer allows you to control the application frequency. Typically a dose every two weeks is sufficient to fuel a fantastic flower show. Tropicals respond quickly to temperature, and as night temperatures begin to dial down, growth slows. The first frosty night melts leaves and flowers into watery mush. At this point, some gardeners dig roots
 to overwinter the plant indoors. Others just celebrate the end of another growing season and let the plant die. In warm climates, the end of a tropical plant’s life simply signals the end of warm-season color and the beginning of cool-season quick color.

Accessories Set the Mood

When growing tropicals for a backyard escape, accent the plantings with accessories that infuse the garden with equatorial ambience. A trickling fountain, lit torches, and even pink flamingos fit the mood. Consider trying out some wicker furniture, a hammock swing, or a rattan rug to cultivate a vacation paradise outside your own back door.

See tropical flowers perfect for patios.

Plants for Tropical Flowers

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Abutilon Pretty bell-shape blooms dangle from stems. Angel’s Trumpet Exotic flowers exude intense fragrance. Canna Large blossoms boast rich, sizzling hues. Chinese Hibiscus Striking flowers open in many colors. Mandevilla Twining vines support large, flared blooms.

Tropical Foliage Plants

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Banana Tall, lush leaves may be variegated. Canna Leaves offer eye-catching variegation. Cordyline Upright, spiky plants bear strappy leaves. Elephant’s Ear Mammoth leaves provide various color choices. New Zealand Flax Strong, upright plants feature wide, grasslike leaves in many hues.

Most of the typical houseplants sold in garden centers are actually tropical plants. Tropical plants make excellent houseplants because they are very easy plants to grow inside, and most of them have the same basic needs. That’s great new for us, and it makes tropical houseplant care much easier!

In this detailed indoor tropical plant care guide you will find…

  • The Best Indoor Tropical Plants
  • How To Water Tropical Houseplants
  • Humidity Requirements For Tropical Houseplants
  • Light Requirements For Tropical Indoor Plants
  • Best Potting Soil For Tropical Plants
  • Best Fertilizer For Tropical Houseplants
  • Dealing With Houseplant Bugs On Tropical Plants
  • Troubleshooting Common Houseplant Problems
  • Where To Find Indoor Tropical Plants For Sale

Growing Tropical Plants Indoors

When you go shopping for new houseplant varieties, you might notice that most garden centers carry a lot of the same types of indoor tropical houseplants. Well, the reason for that is because those are the types of tropical plants are easy to grow indoor houseplants.

Tropical plants make excellent houseplants because many of them can easily adapt to growing indoors. Many of these plants come from tropical forests where they live under the shade of large trees. That means they don’t need a lot of light, which is perfect since most of us don’t have a lot of sun in our homes anyway.

Plus, the reason they’re the most popular indoor plants is that most of these exotic indoor plants don’t require a ton of special care. That makes keeping them alive so much easier!

Tropical croton plant is similar to most common tropical houseplant care

The Best Indoor Tropical Plants

There are hundreds (probably even thousands) of different types of tropical plants for indoors, so there’s no way I could come close to naming them all here (besides, who would want to read all of that anyway?).

So, I’ve put together a list of some of the best and most common indoor houseplants found for sale at garden centers. These easy houseplants are my top picks for the best plants to grow indoors, and also some of my personal favorites.

  • Palm plants
  • Spider plants
  • ZZ plants
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Dumb cane
  • Peperomia
  • Alocasia
  • Bromeliad
  • Dracena
  • Money tree plant
  • Rubber tree plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Philodendron
  • Ferns
  • Orchids
  • Croton
  • Pothos
  • Bamboo plants

Tropical Houseplant Care Instructions

Like I mentioned above, most popular tropical houseplants have similar growing requirements. That’s awesome for us, and it makes tropical houseplant care so much easier!

Of course, every plant is different so it’s best to look up the exact type of tropical plant you’re growing to make sure it doesn’t have any special care instructions.

But below are some general guidelines for how to take care of tropical plants.

Peperomia houseplants are one of the best indoor tropical plants

How To Water Tropical Houseplants

Most tropical plants like their soil to stay evenly moist, but not wet. This can be tricky to get just right. Many common houseplants will tolerate being under watered once and a while, but overwatering is the number one cause of death for tropical indoor plants. So, try not to allow either extreme to happen.

Check the soil regularly, and only water houseplants if they need it. To see if a plant needs water, stick your finger down about an inch into the soil. If the soil feels wet, then it doesn’t need to be watered.

Indoor plant watering devices can help to make watering tropical plants easier, especially if you tend to forget to water your plants. If you struggle with watering houseplants correctly, I highly recommend using a soil moisture gauge so you know how often to water tropical plants.

Beautiful exotic tropical plants

Humidity Requirements For Indoor Tropical Houseplants

Humidity can be another big factor when it comes to tropical houseplant care. Tropical plants like it humid, which makes sense if you think about where they come from (the humid tropics).

The good news is that most common tropical houseplants will easily adapt to living indoors where the air isn’t usually very humid. Some plants are more sensitive to it than others though, and it never hurts to add more humidity to the air when it’s dry.

There are several things you can do to help increase the humidity level around your tropical houseplants. You can run a humidifier near them, or mist them on a regular basis using a plant mister. You could try putting your plants on top of pebble trays filled with water (don’t allow the plant to sit in the water though).

Growing small plants under a decorative plant cloche, or putting a bunch of them into a mini indoor greenhouse also works great to give them plenty of humidity. Put an indoor humidity monitor near your tropical plants to keep an eye on the humidity level.

Alocasia tropical plants for indoors

Light Requirements For Tropical Indoor Plants

There are many types of tropical houseplants that adapt well to the low light conditions indoors… but there are some that need bright light to grow their best. Again, it’s best to look up the specific type of plant you have so you know for sure.

If you put a plant that prefers low light in a sunny window, it can burn their leaves and could kill the plant. On the other hand, if you try growing houseplants like croton, rubber tree, and some varieties of dracenas without much light, they will start to lose their color and grow long and leggy.

So, if any of your tropical plants have started to grow leggy and are reaching for the window, or they have lost their color, that means they need more light. Move the plant to a sunnier spot, or add indoor plant lights.

On the other hand, if you are growing plants indoors in a sunny window and the leaves start to burn, then move them to an area where they’re protected from the hot sun.

Variegated rubber plants make beautiful houseplants

Best Potting Soil For Tropical Plants

When it comes to soil, most indoor tropical houseplants aren’t super picky, they will grow just fine in a general purpose potting soil. If you usually end up overwatering plants, then I would recommend adding extra perlite or pumice into the potting soil so that the water will drain out faster.

On the other hand, if you often forget to water your plants, then you can mix some peat moss and/or vermiculite into the general purpose soil before potting plants to help retain moisture longer.

Some exotic plants do require special soil though (bromeliads and orchids for example), so be sure to do a bit of research for the types of indoor plants you’re growing before repotting them.

Ferns are great tropical indoor plants

Best Fertilizer For Tropical Houseplants

Feeding indoor plants is beneficial during the spring and summer, so be sure to make it a regular part of your tropical houseplant care routine during those months. Don’t fertilize tropical plants during the winter months unless you’re growing a plant that requires it.

I recommend using organic plant fertilizer on tropical plants because many of them are sensitive to chemical fertilizers, and can burn easily.

You can buy a tropical plant fertilizer, or use a general purpose fertilizer for indoor plants.

A general purpose compost fertilizer is also a great choice. Use a pre-made compost liquid fertilizer, or you can buy compost tea bags and brew your own. Slow-release granular fertilizer would also work great.

Indoor tropical rubber tree plant

Dealing With Houseplant Bugs On Tropical Plants

Houseplant pests can be a major pain, and dealing with them is no fun. The best thing you can do is keep your tropical plants healthy and thriving, because healthy houseplants don’t usually have insect pest issues.

But, inevitably, if you grow houseplants indoors, you’ll probably have to deal with pests at some point.

If you find that a plant has bugs, begin treatment immediately. Don’t use chemical pesticides though, they aren’t very effective on these types of bugs (plus they’re harmful to us and our pets!).

I recommend using organic neem oil, which is a natural pesticide and works very well for getting rid of houseplant bugs. I also like to use a mixture of 1 tsp mild liquid soap per 1 liter of water to kill bugs on contact. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil also work great for organic pest control on houseplants.

Yellow sticky traps or houseplant sticky stakes work great to help get rid of flying houseplant pests like fungus gnats. Learn more about how to get rid of houseplant bugs here.

Philodendron monstera Swiss cheese indoor tropical plants

Troubleshooting Common Tropical Houseplant Care Problems

Just because tropical plants are often referred to easy indoor plants to grow, it doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems caring for them. Tropical houseplant care can be challenging, especially for some of the fussier types of houseplants. Below are some common problems you might have, and how to fix them.

Dull leaf color – When brightly colored plants start to fade and look dull, that’s usually caused by a lack of light. Dull leaf color is easily fixed by simply moving the plant to a brighter location, or adding a grow light. See the section above for more information about recommended lighting.

Brown or yellow leaves – Brown or yellow leaves are common problems for tropical houseplants, and are usually caused by lack of humidity, or improperly watering indoor plants. See both the section about how to water plants, and the humidity section above for details on how to fix those issues.

Weak, leggy growth – Weak or leggy growth is usually a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough light. Plants that aren’t getting enough light will reach for the nearest light source, so you may notice your plant is starting to lean to one side as well. Move the plant closer to a sunny window or add a grow light. See the lighting requirements section above for more details.

Leaves drooping – If a houseplant suddenly starts to droop or sag, that usually means it’s either being over watered or it isn’t getting enough water. Check the moisture level by sticking your finger one inch into the soil. If it’s wet, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. If the soil is dry, then give the plant a good drink of water. I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help make watering a snap. See the section above to learn how to keep your houseplant perfectly watered.

Many of these common houseplant problems could also be caused by pests like spider mites, so be sure to inspect the plant for signs of infestation. See the section above about dealing with houseplant bugs for more details.

Group tropical plants together to ease indoor plant maintenance

Where To Find Indoor Tropical Plants For Sale

If you’re wondering where to get indoor plants, you should be able to find tropical houseplants for sale at your local garden center. Although keep in mind that it’s much easier to find indoor plants for sale during the fall and winter months than it is during the gardening season, so you may have to be patient.

You can always buy houseplants online, where you can find tropical plants for sale year-round like this cute collection of mini tropical plants or a mini fern collection to get you started.

There are tons of cool and unique tropical plants that make beautiful indoor plants. The top houseplants sold in garden centers are easy to grow indoor plants, and have the same basic tropical houseplant care requirements.

Tropical plants are awesome, and it’s fun to collect them (I know I have quite the collection myself!). They’re definitely some of the best indoor potted plants to grow, and who doesn’t love to add a little bit of the tropics into their home with some exotic houseplants?

Winter is the hardest time of the year to keep houseplants alive! If you struggle with indoor plant maintenance during the long, dark and dry winter months, then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is perfect for you! This comprehensive houseplant care guide will show you how to not only keep your houseplants alive, but keep them thriving all year long. Buy your copy today!

Products I Recommend

More Tropical Indoor Plant Care Guides

  • How To Care For Indoor Palm Trees And Plants
  • How To Care For A Voodoo Lily Plant
  • Money Plant Care Guide: How To Grow Money Plants Indoors
  • Everything You Need To Know About How To Care For Bromeliads
  • Plumeria Plant Care Guide: How To Grow Plumeria Plants

Do you have anything to add about how to care for tropical plants? Share your tropical houseplant care tips in the comments section below.

Top 8 Must-Have Tropical Plants

Looking for a bit of drama in your garden? You really can’t go wrong by adding tropical plants! Their jumbo leaves, high voltage color, and amazing textures add height and interest while grounding and providing “heft” to garden spaces.

These plants are from parts of the world where the climate is frost-free, warm, and typically, though not always, moist (South and Central America, parts of Asia, and parts of Africa, for example). That means you can enjoy them outdoors when it’s warm and then dig up the bulbs or bring containers inside for the winter when temperatures drop. Or, treat them as annuals — compost them and start fresh in the spring.

Top 8 Tropicals for Every Garden

Each of these plants grows equally well in the ground or in containers, provided they’re not sitting in completely boggy soils. Whether you live in a subtropical zone or garden where the snow flies each winter, you’ll love these plants for the exotic touch they add to your landscape.

Plumeria: (Plumeria)

A heavenly scented patio tree with vividly colored blooms, Plumeria will satisfy nearly all of your tropical urges. Plus your friends will be seriously impressed when they see yours blooming. (Don’t tell them that plumeria plants are super easy to grow!)

Plumeria are the quintessential tropical flowers used frequently in Hawaiian leis. We grow them as small patio trees, 15-18” tall. The scent of the flowers is deliciously potent without being overpowering, and makes them perfect for container plantings near patio seating.

Grow plumeria year round in full sun in Hardiness Zones 10-11. Bring indoors for the winter everywhere else.

Unlike some tropical plants, plumeria plants are incredibly drought-tolerant.

Passion Flower: (Passiflora)

One of the most stunning and dramatic of the tropical flowering vines, passion vine grows from 8-30’ long with flowers that are nearly indescribable in their beauty. Train up a trellis in a container or allow to scramble over a mailbox or porch railing. For a unique and wild look, allow passion flowers to scramble up and through your perennial gardens.

Intricate layers of highly textured petals, filaments, stamens and anthers come in shades of white, purple, lavender, blue, pink, and red. Year-round cold hardiness in zones 8-11. Enjoy as a summer accent everywhere else.

Jasmine: (Jasminum)

Jasmine is the stuff of legends in literature, but we think it flies seriously under the radar as a garden plant. Small, waxy white flowers bloom from spring into summer, some even into the fall, on vines that grow up to 30’ long.

In warmer climates, jasmine will be an evergreen delight, in cooler areas, consider it a fragrant houseplant during the winter. Jasmine grows best in full sun to partial shade and likes consistently moist soils. Make a statement by planting jasmine in high traffic areas (such as near the front door or in a pot on your outdoor patio or deck) so you can enjoy the scent while flowers are in bloom.

Caladium: (Caladium)

How about foliage plants that look hand-painted? Although caladiums do bloom, you’ll want to grow them for their over-the-top leaves in shades of red, pink, white, and green. They’re one of the few plants that delivers true summerlong color in the shade — because the color is not dependent on the flowers.

The leaf shapes range from arrowhead- to heart- or lanced-shaped, with the overall size of the plant growing up to 25” with leaves up to 18” long. Most caladiums enjoy partial shade to dappled shade conditions. Their cold hardiness zones are 10-11, but gardeners everywhere enjoy growing caladiums during the summer.

Ginger: (Curcuma)

These tropical beauties grow anywhere from 2-5 feet tall and up to six feet wide. Ornamental gingers instantly evoke the tropics but will bloom during the summer everywhere. Plants feature oversized elongated leaves and intricate flowers in a variety of colors.

Most prefer dappled sun to light shade in hardiness zones 8-11 and like soil on the somewhat moist, but not soggy, side.

Elephant Ears: (Alocacia and Colocasia)

Nothing quite surpasses the impressive size of elephant ears, the giants of the tropical garden. With heart-shaped leaves that can measure up to several feet across, elephant ears make a statement and provide a stunning focal point for your tropical garden.

These bulbs can grow anywhere from 3’ – 8’ tall and wide, and while most are predictably tender, some are actually fairly cold tolerant.

Go for Hilo Beauty for tri-color leaves with white accents or Esculenta Mojito with speckled leaves. You don’t have to have a huge garden to enjoy their huge tropical flair. Some types have smaller leaves.

Check the hardiness zone on the variety you purchase. Bulbs are easy to dig up and overwinter indoors everywhere, though.

Calla Lily: (Calla)

Calla lilies feature those wide leaves like most tropicals, but also boast their trademark spiral bloom form beloved in cut flower arrangements.

Both elegant and dramatic, callas come in hues ranging from reds, yellows, and oranges, to classic white, purple, and pink.

Some have speckled leaves that are great additions to the garden even when plants are not in bloom. Plants are cold hardy in zones 8-10 and make great container annuals everywhere else.

Crocosmia: (Crocosmia)

Ok, so crocosmia aren’t technically tropical plants, but they look so tropical that we’re including them in this roundup.

Crocosmia have exotic looking, tubular-shaped flowers in hot and spicy shades of red, yellow, orange, and hot pink — exactly what you need to add some heat to your garden!

Added bonuses? They’re great as cut flowers and they attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These mid-summer to fall bloomers grow from 24-36” tall in full sun to part shade in hardiness zones 6-10.

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