A Touch of the Tropics

christinmk z5b eastern WAApril 15, 2011

Something new and fun to chat about! Do you guys like to plant tropical looking plants in your Cottage Gardens? Or do you think it ruins the effect you are trying to go with? My garden isn't stylized in any particular way, so I don't mind adding a few tropical pops for impact. If I had the space I wouldn't mind having a nook specifically for designing a "Tropical-esque" garden.

What are some of your favorite exotic looking annuals? I've just started to get into annuals, so haven't grown a great many. Would love to hear your favs. Coleus look a bit so to me, if paired with the right companions. A lovely lady on GW traded some coleus cuttings for my seeds and I am itching to try doing some container plantings with them.

Cannas are great tropical looking plants. I got a 'Tropicanna' last year at Lowes for $2. Didn't grow very much, but maybe this year it will. Loved the boldness of the foliage here...

Last year I did a pot that looked tropical (to me at least) with Lemongrass and blue/purple Streptocarpella saxorum in a rounded terra cotta pot from Vietnam.

How about perennials? What hardy perennials remind you of something you would see in a tropical location?

One of the plants I have always thought looked exotic is my garden is Lonicera sempervirens, the trumpet honeysuckle with brightly colored tubular flowers.

My Heart's Tounge Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) is farily hardy here and looks just like it's relative the Birds Nest Fern with broad fronds.

I have a giant rhubarb plant out back that I keep thinking would (in the right setting) be tropicalesque, what with the broad, glossy foliage and red stems. The purely ornamental Rheum would be awesome too if I had space.

Crocosmia, Jack in the Pulpit, Kniphofia, Ligularias, Toad Lilies, Spiderwort, and the Persicarias with unusual foliage (Painters Palette, Red Dragon, etc) are some others too.

If you have any pictures feel free to include them!

Ps. Did you know there is actually a forum on GW that talks solely about this topic? It is even called the "Tropicalesque" forum (and here I thought I might have come up with this word myself, LOL!!). Here is a link: The Tropicalesque Forum


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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Funny you should mention rhubarb DS2 has used a clump of rhubarb at the bottom of his front steps as an accent plant, it really looked gorgeous. Everyone was warned off it, no picky or your name's worse than mud LOL. I've grown Elephant Ears in amongst ferns in the planter around the koi pool but that's about all. Mmmmmm, you've given me food for thought :).


    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 6:57PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Living in the deep south it's hard to avoid some tropical touches. I have banana trees, Philodendron selloum, pink indigo, Brazilian plume, and crocosmia.

Brazilian plume...

Pink indigo...

Philodendron selloum...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 8:33PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Annette, that sounds like a nice combo. Brent & Becky's had some unusual looking ones I have been eye-ballin'. Did you try overwintering the bulbs? I would love to try one if I know I can keep it going a long time...

-natal, never seen that Brazilian Plume before, but it is neat! The flowers remind me of monarda.
Your Indigofera is incredible too!! I got a dwarf I. "Rose Carpet" last fall and am excited to see if it has flowers as pretty as yours. Thanks for sharing your pics ;-)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 11:36PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Christen, the first 2 years I dug the bulbs and wintered them in peat moss in my greenhouse, minimal heat. The third year I didn't get around to digging them, they croaked.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 11:51PM
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Well since I live in the north I don't have a hope of growing anything tropical as a perennial altho I do like the look. I have 3 large rhubarb plants that are strictly ornamental now as I no longer eat it (I don't use sugar). They take a lot of space so I've often thought of removing them but kinda like them.

Thanks for the link to the forum, I had no idea there was such a one. I had a quick look and see that Lily of the Valley is one plant listed altho I've never thought of mine as 'tropical' looking. I also have a 'Winter Glow' Bergenia which may be a bit tropicalesque.

I have grown coleus and might seed more this year. Easy to grow and interesting foliage for my shade garden.

I wonder if the colored Swiss chard would give the look? Might use some as a border plant.

IMO using such plants in a cottage garden is not a problem altho I think one might be careful with colors as a vivid orange/red tropical might look strange next to a pale pastel pink cottage flower.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:59AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Ahh...thanks for the info Annette!

-luckygal, I think rhubarb plants are lovely just for ornamental purposes! There was a stretch of time when I didn't cut it down for kitchen use and it sent up a fantastic astilbe-like plume!

LOL! I agree. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear "lily of the valley" is country/cottage garden, not so much 'Tropicalesque'! Although there is a variegated one called 'Albostriata' that is exotic looking.
I agree that Bergenia would look tropical in the right situation, maybe paired with some zebra grass and big blue glazed pot!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:35PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I've had the striped leafed L of the V but after a couple of years they reverted to plain green leaves. I do have a few double flowering L's tho, I'll try and post a pic later. The pink ones I have are a disappointing color, a washed out pink at best. Does anyone have a brighter pink?


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 2:05PM
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