- Create a Tropical Oasis in Your Backyard
- Best Tropical Flowers for Your Patio
- Design and Maintenance
- Flowering Maple
- Angelwing Begonia
- Angel’s Trumpet
- Gardening in Containers Using Tropical Plants
- 70 Extremely Exotic Plants, Flowers, Forests & Trees
- 10 Great Plants for Tropical Rainforest Landscaping class=”wpb_wrapper”>
- How do you do tropical rainforest landscaping? Use high-tolerant plants that grow well in heat and humidity. Living ASEAN has put together the following list of 10 tropical species that are generally easy to find in all ASEAN countries:
- The A to Z of Plants and Greenery
- Growing Cold Hardy Exotic Tropical Plants Around Ponds
- Cold Hardy Tropical Plants or Bushes for Ponds
Create a Tropical Oasis in Your Backyard
Turn your backyard from bland to beautiful this summer by adding colorful tropical plants to your garden beds and planters. It is easy to create the look and feel of the tropics by shopping the amazing selection of plants at Hicks Nurseries.
“I travel to Florida several times a year to hand select the very best and most interesting plants available. Create a tropical paradise in your backyard by shopping our extensive selection of tropical plants. The premium hibiscus are one of my favorites – they add spectacular color to any garden,” said Lori Vanderlaske, Hicks’ Greenhouse Buyer.
Select one or more of these show-stopping plants to create a tropical oasis so realistic – you’ll want to spend your vacation in your own backyard!
Tradewind Premium Hibiscus
Tradewind premium hibiscus are grown for their compact form, glossy foliage and large, abundant blooms. This popular tropical plant will add a bust of color to your garden and are great for container planting.
Cordyline fruticose ‘Hawaiian Ti”
This foliage plant, known as the good luck plant in Hawaii, has glossy, colorful leaves. It thrives in partial sun or partial shade and is great for container planting. This plant loves humidity, perfect for our Long Island Summers on the deck or patio.
Are a great plant to use as a focal point in a large container with other tropical plants or colorful annuals like caliente geraniums and potato vine. Choose from Majesty, Areca, Chinese Fan, Bottle, Sago, Date palm and more.
The brightly colored flower bracts of bromeliads last for many months. Prefers a shady spot.
If some of these plants seems familiar, it could that you already have them inside your house. Plants deserve a vacation too – move your houseplants outdoors for summer once the night time temperatures stay a consistent 50 degrees. In the fall you’ll transition them back indoors. (Learn how here)
Our expert staff is here to help you every step of the way. From helping you choose the perfect tropical plants for your garden to creating custom planters, we are here to make the process simple and even fun!
All About Orchids
Watering the Right Way
Best Tropical Flowers for Your Patio
Tropical plants, available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, are ideal for adding drama to the deck, patio, or balcony. Tropical plants make it easy to create an eye-catching combination in a large container. You can leave them outdoors and treat them like annuals, or if you have lots of light in your home, keep them over winter as houseplants to be used outdoors again next spring.
Get tips here on moving your tropical plants indoors.
Design and Maintenance
For a stunning accent, grow one tropical flower per large container, and add colorful annual flowers around the base. To keep ahead of watering chores, hook up a drip irrigation system designed for potted plants, with one drip emitter per pot. The larger the container, the less often you’ll need to water. Tropical plants typically prefer soil that is moist, but not overly wet.
How to water without over-watering.
Flowering maple (Abutilon selections), named because of their leaf shape, are native to tropical regions of the world. Their bell-shape flowers, in yellow, orange, pink, or red, open wide and dangle slightly from slim stems. Some types have variegated foliage. Abutilons, nicknamed parlor maples, are easy to grow and bloom all spring and summer. Grow them in medium to bright light; for best flowering grow them in bright light at least 4 hours a day. Keep the soil extremely moist but avoid letting the plant stand in water. Size varies; some can grow into trees 15 feet tall and wide.
Learn the best practices for growing tropical plants.
Begonias (Begonia selections) are stalwarts among annuals because they are so easy to grow. For a tropical display, look for the large angelwing varieties (Begonia coccinea), named for their elongated leaves that resemble wings. Many come with variegated leaves. Clusters of white, red, or pink flowers dangle from each stem. Begonias grow best in bright but indirect light; too much light can burn the leaves. Keep the soil evenly moist and avoid overwatering.
Although bromeliads look exotic, they are easy to grow. There are many kinds of bromeliads, but the most distinctive feature is a cup-shape rosette of leaves that holds water, which nourishes the plant. Large, colorful bracts (leaves that look like flowers) or flowers may emerge from the center, creating a fantastic display. Most bromeliads are air plants that grow on trees in nature, gathering their moisture from rainfall and humidity. Keep their roots in an orchid bark potting mixture or other soil that drains quickly, and keep them in pots that look a bit too small. They are liable to die if kept in containers that are too large or if they are overwatered. For best flowering, grow them in high light and warm temperatures.
Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia and Datura selections) are patio stunners. Brugmansia selections offer trumpet-shape white, pink, peach, or yellow blooms that dangle downward. The plant can reach as much as 30 feet tall (but may only reach 6 feet tall in a container over a season). Blooms are fragrant at night when its pollinators are active. Many Datura selections offer trumpet-shape, upward-facing flowers. Outdoors, grow both types in moist, well-drained soil in bright, indirect light. The plants are heavy feeders, so fertilize them regularly in spring and summer with a general-purpose fertilizer. Reduce water and fertilizer during fall and winter months. Beware: All parts are poisonous.
Explore more garden plants with a tropical flair.
Old-fashioned favorites that are beloved for their bright flowers and dramatic, large leaves, cannas (Canna selections) add vertical interest to a container or an in-ground planting. Look for varieties with burgundy or variegated leaves to add punch even when the plant is not in bloom with red, orange, or yellow flowers. Although some varieties reach 7 feet tall, others are bred to remain as short as 2 feet. Grow them in full sun in moist soil (they’re ideal for clay locations). Canna rhizomes may be hardy in the ground in Zones 8-11. In other locations, let the foliage blacken from frost, then lift the rhizomes from the ground and store them in a frost-free area until replanting the following spring.
Plant can-do cannas in your garden.
Although some types of hibiscus are hardy in northern climates, the most commonly grown are natives of tropical Asia (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). Glossy, dark green leaves shine behind 6-inch flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, coral, pink, blue-purple, and white. To keep hibiscus blooming, provide high light. Several hours of direct sun per day is best. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet. Hibiscus flowers on new wood, so don’t prune or you will lose flower buds. To keep the plant more compact and attractive, prune it back in late winter. At the same time, root-prune and repot it in fresh soil. Hibiscus will shed its leaves when conditions change, but will quickly regenerate leaves on old stems.
For a scented treat, grow Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) in your patio containers. The star-shape blooms in yellow or white will perfume the air; some types are especially fragrant at night. Jasmine, which grows as a twining vine up to 15 feet long, needs to be staked on a trellis or arbor. Grow it in full sun or partial shade with protection from hot midday sun. If jasmine is not blooming, the light may be too low. Keep the soil evenly moist during times of growth and flowering; otherwise, allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Plan a fragrant garden using jasmine this spring.
When their trumpet-shape, five-petal flowers are blooming, mandevilla (Mandevilla selections) vines lend a graceful look to a patio garden. Train the stems to twine around a support, such as a trellis or arbor. Vines can reach up to 20 feet long in some climates. Flowers appear on new growth, so heavy pruning stimulates new blooms. The flowers grow in pink, rose, red, and white. Contact with the sap of the vines or leaves may cause skin irritation, so wear gloves when handling them. Eating any part may cause a mild stomach upset. Keep the soil evenly moist during the growing season but allow the soil to dry out between waterings during winter. For best flowering, place mandevilla vines in bright but indirect light, or full sun with midday shade.
- By Deb Wiley
Gardening in Containers Using Tropical Plants
Status and Revision History
Published on Feb 03, 2008
Published on Nov 01, 2010
Published with Full Review on Feb 01, 2014
Published with Full Review on Mar 28, 2017
70 Extremely Exotic Plants, Flowers, Forests & Trees
The world is full of natural wonders, from powerful medicinal to dangerously poisonous plants, stunningly fragrant and attractive to meat-smelling and disgusting and ubiquitous to threatened ones. From ugly-but-life-saving to beautiful-but-killer flowers (and everything in between) here are some of the most exotic and endangered plants, flowers, trees and forests in the world.
16 of the World’s Weirdest Endangered Trees, Plants and Flowers: From the exotic water-storing Baobob Tree to the infamous Venus Fly Trap, the Green Pitcher to the Baseball Plant, this collection features some of the most visually stunning, fascinatingly historied and unusually endangered tree, plant and flower life on Earth. .
16 of the Most Unassuming but Deadly Poisonous Plants: Water Hemlock and Angel’s Trumpet look bright and beautiful but are also notorously fatal. Some of these strange and exotic killers also have medical uses, while others can kill you as quickly, unexpectedly and painfully as a snake or scorpion. .
18 of the Most Powerful Medicinal Plants on the Planet: Some plants are deadly while others save lives – and looks can be deceiving. Some, like marijuana and poppies, are largely outlawed while others, including catnip and alfalfa, are widely harvested and put to a great many purposes every day around the world. .
20 Beautiful but Endangered Forests from Around the World: Some of the most visually stunning and mysteriously exciting forests on the planet are, unfortunately, also some of the most threatened – including the famous Sherwood Forest and California Old Growth Forests, not to mention many a rain forest. .
Bonus: 10 Deliciously Exotic but Edible Fruits and Vegetables: Some of these you might have a tough time finding but as conversation pieces at dinner parties they are sure to pay off. From the monstrously ugly Kiwano Melon to the fractal-filled Romanescu these exotic edibles will certainly turn heads if you can locate or grow them. .
10 Great Plants for Tropical Rainforest Landscaping
How do you do tropical rainforest landscaping? Use high-tolerant plants that grow well in heat and humidity. Living ASEAN has put together the following list of 10 tropical species that are generally easy to find in all ASEAN countries:
/// ASEAN ///
Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Sitthisak Namkham
Bromeliads (Urn Plant): these are ornamental plants with beautiful flowers, slow-growing, easy to care for, and drought-resistant. They do well both where there is a lot and a moderate amount of sunlight. If one gets a lot of sun, the leaves become more and more colorful. Bromeliads give off oxygen during the night and absorb carbon dioxide, making them especially suitable for bedroom placement.
Spikemoss fern (Selaginella Involvens): a ground cover, this is also known as “medical spikemoss” or “peacock fern.” It’s fan-like, with rounded, flat, bushy leaves, and often found in dense forest around steep mountain slopes or near rocks that get moderate sun.
Left: Begonia: represented by many species, it thrives in humid forests, and is thought of as a forest flower. There are both edible and are inedible varieties., For an an alternate sour taste, edible varieties can be used instead of lime in tom yam soup. The inedible varieties have velvety leaves.
Right: Fan palm (Palas Payung): the standout feature of the fan palm is its wide, spreading leaves, resembling folding fans. It can reach four meters in height. Leaves end in sharp, thorny points.
Left: Staghorn Fern (Climbing bird’s nest fern): this fern has climbing roots and thick, green leaves covered with fuzzy hair. The leaf ends fork, resembling a stag’s antlers. For their beautiful and unusual shapes, and their moisturizing quality, they’re often used as ornamental plants.
Right: Coriander-Leaf Fern (Sphenmeris Chusang): this ground fern, found along the face of earthen cliffs or in foothills, does well in shade or indirect sunlight. The petioles about 30cm long, and leaves are delicate and reminiscent of coriander.
Left: the Bead Tree (Elaeocarpus Grandiflorus) has a forest habitat. With gray-brown bark and thick, green, oval-shaped leaves, it produces white flowers with a light fragrance. It’s often found growing on the sides of waterfalls.
Right: Australian tree fern (Dicksonia Antarctica): easy to grow, this rapidly growing fern with a chubby trunk grows in places that are humid, but not too wet. Its leaves grow out bushy and beautiful, but it produces neither flower nor fruit.
Left: The round-leaved banyan (Ficus Annulata Blume) stands out amid a bed of spikemoss. Leaves are round and small, dark green, with smooth edges. It produces a round berry-like fruit, yellow-orange when ripe. It’s considered a good-luck tree, associated with wealth. It grows best in dim to medium sunlight.
Right: Simpoh ayer (Dillenia Suffruticosa): this medium-sized shrub flowers white and is often used in house decoration. In its native to Malaysia, ayer thought to bring good luck. At full size it’s about 8-10 meters tall.
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The A to Z of Plants and Greenery
A for Angsana
A row of Angsana Trees along Bukit Timah Road (left). Photo credit: Keneric Ng Wei Sheng; The disc-like fruits of the Angsana (right). Photo credit: Tee Swee Ping
The Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus), a popular shade tree in Singapore, is a large deciduous tree which can grow up to 40 m in height. Its crown is dense and dome-shaped, and its yellow flowers occur in large bunches. Its fruits are flattened, disc-like pods with papery wings measuring around 5 cm in diameter.
Take a walk down famous Orchard Road which is lined by huge Angsana trees that give much-welcomed shade for pedestrians and shoppers.
B for Bracts
The Bougainvillea ‘Aiskrim’ has tiny cream-coloured flowers, surrounded by pale pink bracts. Photo credit: Jessica Teo
A bract is a modified leaf which is often positioned just beneath a flower or cluster of flowers. Bracts are often more showy than the flowers themselves, such as in the many varieties of Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.). Aside from attracting pollinators, bracts also protect flowers from pests and harsh weather.
Learn more about the Bougainvillea in the article, Bougainvillea: Colouring Our Streets
C for Cycads
Dioon spinulosum. Photo credit: Jane Li
Cycads are among the oldest and most primitive of the living seed plants. An ancient group which thrived during the Jurassic Period, also referred to as the Age of Cycads, these plants feature a crown of large compound leaves and a stout trunk. Today, cycads are much fewer in number and many species face possible extinction in the wild. Thankfully, some species have found a place in gardens around the world, favoured for their large, attractive leaves.
Keen to see these ancient plants up close? Visit the Evolution Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where you can view cycads and other wonders, including petrified trees, ammonite fossils and other interesting plants such as mosses, liverworts and ferns.
D for Drip tips
Leaves of the Pong Pong. Photo credit: JWH Yong
Drip tips are elongated leaf tips which enable rainwater caught on leaf surfaces to run off quickly. Numerous plant species have leaves with drip tips, including the Pong Pong (Cerbera odollam) and Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa), though some are more pronounced than others.
They are a common feature especially on tropical rainforest species, which need to shed water to avoid growth of fungus and bacteria in the warm, wet environment they live in.
E for Epiphytes
The Bird’s Nest Fern is a common epiphyte found on many of our trees in Singapore. Photo credit: Jennie Tang Yurue
Epiphytes such as ferns and orchids are plants which rely on other plants for mechanical support. They derive moisture from the air and rain, and nutrients from decomposing plant material such as leaf litter.
A commonly seen epiphyte is the Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus), which grows on the branches of large trees. Other examples include species of Dischidia and Hoya, which can be planted in attractive containers and presented as personalised gifts. They may also be suitable for use on green walls, forming vertical greening systems.
F for Figs
The towering Burmese Banyan at Fort Canning Park.
You may be familiar with Fort Canning Park as a venue for concerts, theatre productions and festivals, but did you know that it also boasts interesting biodiversity, being home to more than 10 species of Fig trees?
At your next visit, keep a look out for the Broad-leafed Fig or Elephant Ear Fig Tree (Ficus auriculata), which has rounded leaves and young shoots of an intense mahogany colour, and the Burmese Banyan (Ficus kurzii), which has been endorsed as one of the many Heritage Trees in Singapore.
G for Gardeners’ Day Out
Gardeners’ Day Out happens every third Saturday of the month at HortPark.
Are you looking to purchase new plants to spruce up your home garden? Or perhaps you are having some trouble with gardening and seek help on plant care? Look no further than Gardeners’ Day Out! Happening every third Saturday of the month at HortPark, expect fantastic offers on plants and gardening accessories and free advice by trained plant consultants at our Hort Clinic.
Gardeners’ Day Out also promises a series of creative and engaging activities suitable for families and the young ones, including free garden tours of HortPark and visits to various themed gardens. Check NParks’ webpage here for event updates.
H for Heritage Trees
The 170-year-old Tembusu in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The Heritage Tree Scheme, managed by NParks, advocates the conservation of Singapore’s mature trees which have important botanical, social, historical, cultural and/or aesthetic value. To date, there are 261 Heritage Trees in our Heritage Tree Register.
Possibly the most famous and photographed tree in Singapore is the 170-year-old Tembusu that is depicted on the back of Singapore’s $5 note. It has an iconic 25 m long limb, which is now being supported by a Dynamic Support System. A fence has also been installed around the tree to protect its root zone from the trampling feet of visitors eager for a photograph with this famous tree!
I for Ipomoea
Ipomoea alba is also known as the Moonflower because its pure white, sweetly fragrant blossoms open after sunset and last throughout the night, fading the next morning with the new sunrise. Photo credit: Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh
Species found in the genus Ipomoea may be among the best known flowering plants in gardens all over the world. Common species you may spot in Singapore include the dazzling red Ipomoea quamoclit and the coloured flowers of Ipomoea lobata.
But there are actually over 600 other species in this genus worldwide, consisting of mostly warm-climate trees, shrubs and twining and trailing herbaceous plants. In fact, the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) falls under this genus too!
J for the Jelly Fig
Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang. Photo credit: Pauline Tay
You may have seen this plant covering overhead bridges in Singapore (Ficus pumila var. pumila), but did you know that a variety of this plant is actually the source of the popular Taiwanese dessert, Aiyu or Ice Jelly?
The Jelly Fig (Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang), which is native to Taiwan, has seeds which, when mixed with mineral water and rubbed together, releases a gel which solidifies the mixture into a jelly. This jelly is then often served as a dessert with sweetened lime or lemon juice, fruit and shaved ice. It can be added to cold drinks too. But the jelly reverts to its liquid form after one to two days, so you will have to eat it quickly!
K for Kitchen Garden
Fishwort Plant (left) and Sugar Leaf Plant (right).
You have seen these fruits and vegetables on your dinner plate, but have you ever wondered how they are grown? At the Kitchen Garden at Pasir Ris Park, you can get up close and personal with many plants we commonly use in cooking or for medicinal purposes.
Excite your senses as you touch and smell plants such as Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus). You may also see interesting plant species such as the Fishwort Plant (Houttuynia cordata) and Sugar Leaf Plant (Stevia rebaudiana). For more information and tips for your visit, check out our DIY Trail Guide here.
L for Lianas
Entada spiralis. Photo credit: NParks Flora&FaunaWeb
Lianas are long-stemmed, woody vines found mainly in tropical forests. They are such a conspicuous component of tropical forest ecosystems that they constitute one of the most important structural differences between tropical and temperate forests. While lianas are rooted in the soil, they may climb as high as a tree canopy to reach the sunlight.
M for Monoecious (vs Dioecious) plants
A ‘typical’ flower has both male and female parts (the stamen and pistil, respectively). However, some plants produce what are known as ‘imperfect’ flowers instead, with only female or only male parts.
The terms monoecious and dioecious apply to plants with imperfect flowers. In monoecious plants, the separate male and female flowers are both borne on the same individual. Plants that exhibit these characteristics include the Indian Redwood (Chukrasia tabularis) and Sandbox Tree (Hura crepitans). In dioecious plants, individuals produce only male flowers, or only female flowers.
Enjoyed learning about these interesting botany-related fun facts? Look out for the next article in this series in the next issue of My Green Space!
To learn more about these interesting plants and greenery, check out our many Gardening Resources on our website here.
Also check out our one-stop information portal, NParks Flora&FaunaWeb, to find out more about the many plants that grow in Singapore.
Text by Elizabeth Kamaldin
Growing Cold Hardy Exotic Tropical Plants Around Ponds
For gardeners who live in zone 6 or zone 5, pond plants that are typically found in these zones can be pretty, but tend not to be plants that look tropical. Many gardeners would like tropical plants to use by a goldfish pond or fountain but believe in their temperate area this is not possible. This is not the case though. There are many cold hardy tropical plants or bushes that can turn your water retreat into an exotic getaway.
Cold Hardy Tropical Plants or Bushes for Ponds
The corkscrew rush is fun and looks like an exotic tropical plant. The stems of this plant grow in a spiral and add an interesting structure to the garden.
The large leaves of burhead plants give them the look and feel of tropical rainforest plants.
The long stems of creeping jenny plant can create the feel of long tropical vines coming over the edges of walls and pond banks.
The massive two foot leaves of the giant arrowhead plant can be a good copycat of the popular exotic tropical elephant ear plant.
Always a time tried favorite, larger leaf hostas can also give the illusion of tropical rainforest plants growing around a pond.
More fun plants that look tropical, and named because the flowers look like lizards tails, the lizard’s tail plant can help give the feel of small flitting lizards among your plants.
Add some color to your tropical looking pond with the bright pink flowers of obedient plant.
The feathery foliage of the exotic tropical plant, parrot feather, adds interest to the edge and center of a pond.
The pickerel rush plant will provide exotic looking flowers all through the summer months and survives the winter well.
This plant looks exactly like regular hibiscus. Unlike those tropical rainforest plants, however, water or swamp hibiscus, will winter over in the pond and bloom year after year.
Adding more floral color, the shape of the water iris is reminiscent of the orchids you may find in tropical locations.
This is just a short list of all the cold hardy tropical plants that look tropical that you can use around your pond. Plant a few of these by your pond and sit back to sip on pina coladas.