Landscaping with Tropical Plants
This year, instead of an island getaway, why not build your own backyard tropical paradise by just adding a few tropical plants to your landscape! With all the unique tropical plants available from exotic blooms to colourful foliage, it’s never been easier to add a tropical punch to your deck or patio. Tropical plants are considered ANNUALS and are NOT HARDY in our cold winter climate. Bring indoors for the cold seasons to enjoy them year after year.
Tropical Hibiscus are a MUST when you want to build your own backyard tropical paradise! They have glossy, deep green leaves and large, exotic blooms that come in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, mauve and peach. These striking flowers bloom all summer and through to fall. Tropical hibiscus come in shrub or tree form so they are very versatile on a deck or patio. They need a lot of sunlight to bloom and need well-drained, well-watered soil (but shouldn’t sit in water). Fertilize these beauties regularly for best performance.
Rio Dipladenias are easy to grow and will bloom all season long. These gorgeous tropical plants can be enjoyed in containers, hanging baskets and garden beds. Dipladenias bloom best in full sun, a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. Grows 30 to 60cm (12″ to 24″) in height. When watering, allow soil to dry out in between watering. Can tolerate some drought. Dipladenias can be planted outdoors after frost has passed – however, they need to be protected from frost in the fall, and must be overwintered indoors. Fertilize your plants regularly for best performance. No deadheading is required; blooms will fade and fall off. Rio dipladenias will keep pushing out fresh blooms without deadheading. Rio blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are deer resistant – something to remember when you build your own backyard paradise.
Bougainvillea are incredibly showy vines, shrubs or trees that have flower-like green leaves and vibrant blooms that come in shades of pink, purple and orange. They can grow anywhere from 1 – 12 m high (depending on the type of plant and where it’s planted). Bougainvillea are sun lovers and need a minimum of 5-6 hours of sun. They can tolerate hot and dry locations. Plant in rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil and water sparingly. Bougainvillea tend to flower less if they get too much water. Fertilize at the beginning of the season with a fertilizer with a high middle number (phosphorus) to promote new growth and blooming. Bougainvillea are prolific growers so pruning is usually necessary. After the plant is done blooming, cut it back a few inches to force blooming and keep the shape. Bougainvilleas are also virtually pest free and very disease resistant.
Thunbergia (Black-Eyed Susan Vine)
Thunbergia should not to be confused with the Black Eyed Susan perennial. This annual climbing vine is covered with cheerful 1.5” flowers in shades of yellow and orange. Repeat blooming from May to fall, the flowers have 5 petals surrounding a brown-purple centre. This fast growing vine can reach 6-10’ in one season. Plant in full sun, but consider a location that has some protection from the very hot afternoon sun. Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Fertilize lightly every 4-6 weeks for best results. Remember, this charming vine is an annual and will not survive outdoors during the winter.
Passiflora (Passion Flower Vine)
Passiflora, or passion flower vine has a very distinct & unique flower that sets it apart from every other tropical in the area. The dramatic flower comes in purples, blues, greens, oranges, reds and pinks. They bloom summer to fall and flowers are fragrant. Passion flower is a rapid growing vine that climbs by twining tendrils. This showy vine prefers full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. It can tolerate some drought. In time, this exotic stunner will grow to about 6-8’ high and 3-6’ wide. Attracts butterflies.
Morning Glory vines are an annual climber with heart shaped leaves, romantic tendrils and trumpet shaped flowers that come in blue, purple, pink, or white. The flowers unfold in the sun. Morning Glory grows quickly and can get up to 15’ in one season. The flowers bloom from early summer right up to the first frost. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant in a protected, sunny area in sandy, loamy soil. Fertilize monthly for best performance. Morning Glories are low-maintenance – water during dry periods. A trellis or climbing support will be needed.
Majesty palm is a robust, tropical palm with graceful, feathery fronds. It is a low maintenance tropical that adds an instant tropical vibe to decks and patios. Palms get quite large over time (up to about 15’) so planting them in a patio pot is a great idea so they can be moved indoors when necessary. Plant in rich, well-drained soil and place in bright, indirect sunlight. Hot direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. Fertilize majesty palms every 3 months or so during the warmer seasons for best performance, but avoid over fertilization. Like most palms, the Majesty Palm’s fronds will eventually turn brown and die. You can leave the leaves on and let them fall off naturally, or you can clip the dead leaves back to the leaf base. Tropical Palms need to be over-wintered indoors. Once you move the palm inside, keep away from doors or windows, air conditioning vents or other areas where they will get a draft.
Mandevilla is a spectacular twining vine adds tropical flair to any patio or deck. This popular twining vine has big, shiny green leaves and romantic blooms that come in shades of pink, red, white and yellow. Blooms all summer long and can grow up to 10’ in a single season. Plant in well-drained soil and place in a sunny spot that’s protected from the afternoon scorching heat. Bright, filtered sunlight is perfect for this climber. Fertilize every 2 weeks with a high phosphorous (middle number) fertilizer. This vine will need a support to climb.
Oleander can come in tree form or shrub form. It provides a Mediterranean feel to the patio or deck with long, greyish leaves and large clusters of bright, heavily scented flowers through summer into fall. The flowers come in shades of pink, white, red and yellow. Oleander can grow up to 6-12’ tall and is very low maintenance. Plant in well-drained soil. Place in full sun to light shade. Oleander is drought tolerant and does not like to be over-watered. Prune to shape in late fall. All parts of the Oleander plant are poisonous.
Tropical Red Bananas
Red Bananas add drama to the tropical garden. Their deep red-greenish palm-like leaves are perfect for adding a tropical touch of colour. Red bananas are low maintenance and will grow up to 12-15’ tall relatively quickly. Plant in well-drained soil and water regularly, especially in extreme heat. Place in full to part sun. Fertilize once a month in spring and summer. Prune dead leaves as necessary.
One of the sweetest smelling tropical plants ever! Gardenia can be found in shrub form or tree form. With glossy dark green leaves and large white, almost rose-like fragrant blooms, this plant is absolutely stunning on a deck or patio. Gardenias are heat lovers, so place them where they will receive full sun to light shade. Make sure the soil is well-drained, acidic and watered regularly. Apply a soil acidifier monthly to maintain acidity. Gardenia shrubs can grow to 2-8’ tall at maturity and should be pruned in early spring to maintain shape.
Other Great Ideas for adding a Tropical Punch to your Patio
The above mentioned plants are just the beginning. There are many other interesting tropical plants that can be used to in the summer landscape. Try Hanging Baskets, Patio Pots, Pentas Tree, Lantana Tree, Tibouchina Tree, Solanum Tree, Fuchsia Tree & Brugmansia Tree, Star Jasmine & Bird of Paradise.