Have you ever wished you had a tropical touch to your yard while it was in a colder clime? I have one, and I found that tropical plants withstood very cold temperatures.
When we return from a tropical vacation to our chilly surroundings, there is a particular appeal to tropical plants that many of us miss.
You may create a tropical garden in a colder area that you can be proud of if you prepare carefully and employ the proper plants.
Let’s get started so you can go outside and build your own tropical garden paradise if that floats your boat.
Tropical Plants That Are Cold Hardy
The plants that thrive in a tropical environment are lovers of heat and humidity, since it is warm and humid. Rain is common in tropical areas as well.
Tropical ecosystems are frequently lush and vibrant due to the climate. Nighttime temperatures don’t fall below 50°F in these areas.
The reason tropical plants grow so quickly is because of the consistent heat and humidity.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, so check with your local library to see what else is out there. Some of my favorite cold-hardy tropical plants are listed here.
In addition, don’t rely on plants to achieve a tropical feel. Build a pergola, utilize hammocks, and well-placed chairs for outdoor seating.
1. Hardy Banana
Since I couldn’t think of a plant with leaves that resemble this foliage, I began with hardy banana. In temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the leaves will freeze and die, but if you mulch them thickly, the subterranean rhizomes will survive.
This will keep the plant growing to around 20 feet tall and returning every year. The leaves may be up to 12 feet long in the tropics. The flower spikes are yellow and banana-like.
To protect the stem, try these steps to ensure hardy banana survives in even the coldest climates:
To safeguard the stems and chop off the leaves, choose two or three. Wrap the stems in plastic after wrapping them in old, lightweight blankets or insulation. To keep the blankets dry, tie the plastic around.
Until all danger of frosts has passed in the spring, cover the whole thing with a plastic rubbish bag. By allowing the hardy banana to survive above ground or cutting it back, you’ll give it a head start and hopefully double the size of its growth for the year.
2. Clumping Bamboo
When people hear the term bamboo, they associate it with giant bamboo plants that take over an entire yard and even the neighbors’.
Bamboo is being run in this manner. Clumping bamboo is the subject of this conversation. It’s a towering tropical plant that doesn’t spread like wildfire. Look for a hardy down to -15°F mountain variety.
Bamboo culms are the upright canes of the plant. Return the tired and dull culms to ground level with a machete. Cut any drooping, bent, or damaged culms in half, leaving just the ones that are straight up in place, to achieve a really dramatic effect.
3. Elephant Ear
Elephant ear leaves have a tropical appearance, to put it mildly. Surprisingly, tender tubers are used to cultivate this dramatic-looking plant.
In a cold environment, you can grow elephant ear in any sort of soil, but there is one golden rule: When you get the first frost, dig up the tuber and store it inside until spring, when you can replant it. That is how to preserve it.
4. Giant Rhubarb
In your tropical garden, you may move giant rhubarb (Gunnera manicata) from a large container to a garage or shed to go dormant.
While this plant is only hardy down to Zone 7, it is well worth the effort for its tropical appearance. You’ll need to remove it and store it in peat during the winter if you place this in the ground.
5. Hardy Hibiscus
For growing hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos, H. moscheutos), you’ll get plate-sized flowers. (hybrid animals such as laevis) You will get flowers that may be blue, purple, red, pink, or white if you give it full sun and plenty of water.
This cold-hardy plant with tropical looks is actually Zone 4 hardy. Is that good, or not?
Caladium (Caladium spp.) is your tropical color that thrives in shaded regions, and it’s the plant for you if you prefer hardy hibiscus. Caladium is a bulb that can be dug up and stored inside until the following spring. It thrives in moist soil and is available in a variety of colors.
When the day temperatures are in the mid to low 50s, it’s time to start removing caladium. Remove the bulbs from the ground and place them in. Before removing the tops, allow them to dry for approximately a week. Store the bulbs in a 60°F environment that is well-ventilated.
7. Hardy Fuchsia
Hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) is not the same as the tender variety most people are familiar with. This plant may grow up to 10 feet tall and broad. The lovely pendulous blooms are similar to tender fuchsia, but hardy fuchsia is perfect down to USDA Growing Zone 6, which is a significant difference.
Make sure the plant is protected from the harsh afternoon sun and keep the soil moist.
8. Trumpet Vine
It will provide you with the brilliant tropical look you desire, with brilliant yellow, orange, and red blooms, by providing trumpet vine (Campsis spp.) with a strong framework to grow over. trumpet vine can be grown down to Zone 5 with full sun.
This vines will grow in even poor soil and is a robust vine. It may take two or three years for it to establish itself and flower well, but the effort is worth it.
9. Toad Lily
Another plant that thrives in any warm and humid tropical environment is the toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta). The cool thing is that it’s hardy down to Zone 4! It also blooms in the shade, on top of that.
Orchids are often confused with pink flowers. For bigger types, this is the ideal plant to grow through and under.
Passionflower is a tropical-looking vine, especially when in full bloom and before the fruit forms. Technically, it is not a tropical plant.
This vine, sometimes known as maypop, can endure temperatures as low as -20°F. When the fruit falls from the vine, sit back and enjoy it while you have plenty of water and as much sunlight as you can. It has a tropical taste to it as well.
11. Jelly Palm
Jelly palm (Butia capitata) can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Jelly palms in cold areas grow up to 10 to 20 feet tall and are relatively compact. Jelly palms may be cultivated in pots, making them even more compact.
Jelly palm fruits, which are utilized in jams and jellies, or even fermented wine, are similar to passion flower.
Most fig trees, down to Zone 7, are not cold hardy. Yet, two types of plants are hardy down to Zone 5 and may tolerate very low temperatures.
In colder climates, choose between ‘Chicago Hardy’ and ‘Violette de Bordeaux.’ These cultivars will provide you with delicious, tropical fruit.
Daylilies aren’t actually a real lily, but they’re a wonderful addition to a tropical-themed yard in the shade. Once established, they require little care and are less likely to spread widely. The more recent cultivars are less prone to do so.
When it comes to soil, daylilies are unconcerned. Cold and salt tolerance are two characteristics they have. They’re also edible, which is a bonus.
14. Bird of Paradise
The Mexican Bird of Paradise variety, which thrives in tropical climates and tolerates temperatures as low as 24°F, is best grown in the tropics. Plant in containers that you can move indoors if you get a lot of frost.
There are certain cultivars and hybrids that are ideal for chilly locations, such as hostas, which are suitable for bigger ground cover in tropical gardens.
They prefer wet soil and partial shade and are content. To give them enough energy to withstand colder temperatures, dig in well-rotted manure.
5 Tips For Growing Cold Tolerant Tropical Plants
The first step is to locate the appropriate cold hardy tropical flora, but there are steps you may take to help your tropical and tropical-looking flora flourish even in colder environments.
Consider a typical tropical habitat. Since fast-growing plants shed their leaves, most soils have thick layers of organic matter. During the colder seasons, mulch retains moisture and warms the ground for as long as possible.
If you leave mulch in the ground, it may also protect rhizomes and bulbs from dying.
Rain in most tropical areas comes in large quantities rather than small portions. Water thoroughly when you feed your tropical plants, and then water somewhat again before feeding them deeply again.
Tropical plants are fed by the deep layers of organic matter. As a result, extra feeding will help tropical plants thrive in colder conditions.
If feasible, use a fertilizer specific to tropical plants, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Talk to Experts
Talk to the local tropical plant sales and cultivation experts. You may learn tremendous techniques that boost the prospects of tropical plants in colder regions, and many tropical plants have unique requirements.
It’s usually a good idea to contact your local extension office.
Winterize Your Plants
Some tropical plants need to be moved inside when temperatures drop below freezing, depending on the variety you choose. Others, such as hardy bananas, may need to be cut back to ground level and mulched heavily.
Learn more about your chosen kinds’ unique features.