Ah, tropical flowers! The very mention of these exotic beauties can bring a smile to the face of a denizen of colder climates -- a smile concealing a bit of envy, perhaps. But even if you don't live in the tropics or in very warm subtropical regions (e.g., South Florida), you can still enjoy a taste of exotic blossoms and lush vegetation in the landscape during the summer, treating your specimens as annuals. Alternatively, bring them indoors for the winter for storage or to serve as houseplants.
Before looking at some of the types of tropical flowers available, let's discuss the following design considerations, paying particular attention to staying within budget:
- Achieving optimal color
- Adding a water feature
- Providing seating where you can enjoy your plants
- Installing outdoor lighting that evokes the tropics
Tropical flowers don't come cheap; yet you don't want to scrimp, when it comes to color. Solution to the problem: supplement the color offered by your exotic blossoms with the additional color that can be provided by use of the annuals commonly sold at garden centers.
Settings with tropical flowers are greatly enhanced, both visually and aurally, by the addition of water features, which can be very easy to build and quite inexpensive. Provide suitable outdoor patio furniture on which to relax near your water feature.
In an age surrounded by electric, the luxury of candlelight has taken on overtones of romance and serenity. This is just the sort of mood you're looking to create with outdoor lighting in a garden of tropical flowers. Yes, you do have to take precautions when using candles outdoors. You don't want the wind knocking your candle over and starting a fire. But you can buy decorative glass candle holders or Mexican tin candle holders for just this purpose. For an Oriental flavor, purchase colorful Chinese lanterns. Any of this outdoor lighting can be hung from shepherd's hooks, available at most nurseries. Simply insert votive candles and close up the lantern securely; extinguish the candles when you leave the area. A few of these lanterns placed strategically around your favorite plants, supplemented by citronella candles for natural mosquito control, will light the area sufficiently to create an ideal spot for a late-night snack.
Types of Tropical Flowers
Below are examples of just a few of the more common types of exotic blossoms:
Bird of paradise could serve as a poster child for tropical flowers, so widely admired is it among lovers of colorful plants. This South African native will be especially appreciated by gardeners seeking orange blooms.
Read article: Bird of Paradise
Gerbera daisies are another South African native. Many of us know these tropical flowers as potted plants sold in florist shops. Gerbera daisy is a popular houseplant in northerly climes.
Read article: Gerbera Daisy
Lantanas are such vigorous growers in hot climates that they are considered invasive plants in Florida. These tropical flowers aren't native to Florida but have become naturalized there and have spread like weeds. You won't have that problem if you live in a cold climate, where lantana is treated as an annual.
Read article: Lantana
Canna lilies are bulb plants commonly grown outside across the North during the summer time to inject color into the landscape as only tropical flowers can. The plants are large enough to form summer hedges when massed along a border. In fall, the canna bulbs are dug up and brought inside for winter storage, as described in this article.
Read article: Canna Bulbs
Are you seeking a taste of the tropics without having to baby the plants because they can't tolerate cold (or treat them as annuals)? Hibiscus is a well-known tropical flower, but varieties exist that are hardy! These large, showy "tropical flowers" will become perennial favorites in your garden.
Read article: Hardy Hibiscus
But the tropics offer more than tropical flowers. Lush vegetation is also a hallmark of the tropics. On Page 2 we'll look at tropical plants grown for their attractive foliage....