Thinking about 'tropicalizing' my....ok, don't laugh!

grullablue(5)April 27, 2011

chicken coop! I have a love..ok, obsession, for all things tropical, but live in southern WI, zone 5. I bought a couple of small musa basjoos recently, and am just waiting for it to warm up enough to plant them outside. My house faces north, and I've just not found a good place to show them I have considered tropicalizing my chicken coop, which sits in our front yard. We have some tropical looking solar lights we put up around there in the summertime....and, well, the bananas would fit right in. But I'd like your ideas on if this would be an ok idea, and where exactly to place them.

I have two small arborvitaes (small, now!) positioned on each side of the door, which I will replant elsewhere. Considered putting them on each side of the door, but afraid they'll block the doorway with their leaves as they get taller. So considered putting them along the fence of the run.... (where the yellow dots are in the pic), so if I do that, I had considered planting some Adam's Needle (color guard perhaps) in place of the arborvitaes, and maybe hanging a basket of another love, persian shield, for the summer months. But very soon I should be able to put my basjoos outside....and I'm still debating on where. If by the chicken coop, do I put them by the door? (red dots?) Or by the fence? If I put them on the north side, (left side of the pic) they may not get enough sunlight...backside, I wouldn't see them, and the right side (house side), only I would really see them.

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You should put basjoos by the door and a row of Cannas and colorful elephant ears along the yellowdots .Add some colorful annuals as a groundcover and watch them grow. Its probably a good idea to dig up the cannas, elephant ears, and basjoo in the fall and keep them dormant in your house.
You can also get some palms pretty cheap at some nurseries so you can keep those as potted plants by the chicken coop or plant those in the ground as annuals as well.
I think hollies would add a nice tropical look in the background mainly because they stay evergreen during the winter. Add some evergreen ferns with the hollies as well and maybe a few hostas and other shade loving plants and you will have a really nice backdrop that can handle a zone 5 winter, but give a warm look during the summer. Water features always remind me of the tropics and their are many water plants that look tropical and will survive a zone 5 (such as water lilies and arums).
Add some morning glories and other flowering plants that are quick to grow from seeds to give lots of color quick.
There are lots of tropical plants that can handle shade so look in the houseplant section of stores like Home Depot and lowes and if you can find a good price, take them home and keep them as potted plants outside in the shade during the summer and inside your house during the winter.
Hope this gives you some ideas!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 1:14AM
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Thanks Alex!

I love cannas, that's something on my list I haven't yet looked up! Palms....ugh. My true love! :) I threw that idea out, because of the work involved in over-wintering them, I guess I hadn't considered keeping them in a pot. You have a lot of ideas....boy could I keep you busy! The west side of my house is completely bare....I want something along the foundation there, (it's a side yard), but needs to be able to take the heat of the brick on the really soaks up the heat from that sun! I'll throw a pic on here. But since it's such a large space, it would need to be zone 5 suitable, I can't really dig up all of that to store.

Yep, I love water features too, I'll have to look around. I just love water! We have a pond right in our backyard...a natural pond, about an acre in size, surrounded by trees.

I also really like castor bean plants, but know they are poisonous, and would need to be planted somewhere away from where animals can get to them.

See how boring this is? This side of the house faces west.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:17AM
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There are a lot of planting opportunities there! Cannas would be great there, but would have to be dug up in the fall. Hardy hibiscus would do great. Rose of sharon get to the size of a small tree and are very hardy in your area (they are very invasive in mine and even grow on the sides of the forests sometimes). I always liked peonies also. And Yucca rostrata should be marginally hardy in your area and is a larger yucca (I have seen some in my area that are almost as tall as the 2 story house they are next to, but about 5-8 feet tall is more typical for a medium aged yucca).
Vinca might make a good groundcover. Its evergreen here, but it might be a dieback by you. It should still come back like crazy every year and make nice blue blooms in the spring (and sometimes again in the fall or summer).
Eastern prickly pears are great cactus and are so tolerant of everything. The flowers only last one day, but they will really add some interest! They bloom around late May to early June here.
I think that big, broad leaf evergreens are a good idea for that area. I cant think of all the ones available in your climate, but there are definitely a few!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Thanks for the input! I'll check into some of the things you mentioned! In my tropical dreaming, I've discovered yucca, and been looking into those. Nope, vinca survives! I have just a small amount I got from a friend's place last summer...I planted it hoping it will spread like wildfire! Although I believed it was a shade plant.

Cannas, that would be beautiful now, wouldn't it!! I've been looking them up lately, and I really love the Phasion (tropicanna) variety. And I'm reading that it's really not that hard to overwinter them. here I was picturing digging up actual plants and having to store, just the rhizomes. In boxes, bags, whatever, in my basement, over the winter. I could consider that. Think they could take the heat of that brick? I mean, it's too hot to touch in the summertime with that sun beating on it! I like the poster above's suggestion about putting it along the fencing for my chicken coop run as well...not only would it be beautiful, but would provide my hens with a little shade in the summertime when they're outside.

Thanks a lot for your feedback! I just discovered the canna forum today! :)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:12PM
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*I meant the other POST above's know it's you! My brain's fried tonight, but I'm off to do more lookin' at plants online anyway!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Well if you are going to do it, do it right and do up that shed. Get some bamboo matting and attach it all over.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 2:37PM
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haha... Okay, I hate the term "LOL" because it is so often not true. But I actually *did* laugh out loud when I read that. I thought you were going to say "cottage garden" or "pond" or something.

Then I glanced down at your picture before reading the whole post and thought, "Geesh, this person has bigger problems than the coop. There are glowing orbs all over their property! Call MUFON!"

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 12:38AM
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hahaha scully.... yeah....this may be a first ever on GW...I don't know! But ya know, in the chicken world, some people take landscaping around their chicken coop VERY seriously! I've seen pics to prove it!

In my case, I thought it may just look nice, considering my chicken coop is "right there" where everyone sees it (front/side yard, but because of building permit codes, property lines and a pond in the back yard, this is the only place we could put it), I thought I might as well dress it up a little bit!

I should go across the road and see if I can get a pic of the front yard as a whole....I've thought of making a bed to plant my basjoos, but I think then about plowing in the wintertime, and how the planting spot may accidentally get plowed (they plow piles into the yard...depending on how much snow we get, sometimes we run out of room to put it!)

Just a silly fact for the day, did you know serious backyard chicken people NAME their chicken coops? "Coop De Ville" was one I remember seeing... many times has something to do with coop or hen...somewhere in there. Mine is named's called the chicken coop...maybe you'll be lol-ing at that one. But....if I tropicalize it...perhaps we could turn it into the Tiki Coop....LOL.

Back to being serious....there are some things I have in mind when I plant my basjoos (and maybe some cannas if I try that)....they need sun of course, I really don't want them out in the open/middle of nowhere because of the plow in the winter, so I want them nestled against something preferrably, and I'd like them to be in the front yard. My front yard faces because of the lack of sun, up against the house is out. Or...if I do put them out in the middle of nowhere in the yard, I have these big blue drums with the top cut off (used for horse water tanks at one time)...I've considered covering their mulch piles with those...put a big cinder block over it to keep them from blowing away, and if the plow driver doesn't see that...then he's got a problem!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 12:11PM
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I never really thought of people as being so devoted to landscaping around chicken coops, but I definitely believe it, and it would look nice so why not! I always kind of associated chickens with the tropics because there are lots of wild chickens on tropical islands.
Vincas can grow in shade or sun. I have my variegated vincas in full sun and it still spreads like crazy. I never planted it, I just had a pot of annuals there and the vinca vines in the pot decided to root itself to the ground (which is very rocky in that part of my yard so for it to thrive, it must be a very tough plant). My vinca survived a ton of heat this summer including a few days in the 100's and a record high of 106F! I never saw any burn, but the green form might not be as sun tolerant, I dont know though since I dont have any experience with it.
Basjoos wont grow as fast in part shade, but they will grow. I had one of my basjoo's in part shade and it actually didnt seem to mind it. Some of the leaves got a bit black for some reason, but it grew normally and at about the same rate as my canna in full sun. It didnt need as much water and it looked better on hot days when all my other bananas were folding their leaves because of the intense sun. So I would give them a try in your front yard as long as it gets a little sun.
I dont think I mentioned brugmansia, but they are very nice small trees that have beautiful trumpet-like flowers. This is my first full year with them, but I hear they grow good in the shade or sun. Just watch out because they are toxic if you eat them, and apparently the scent of the blooms (which is suppose to be amazing), might not be good to smell for long durations. But as long as its far away from your chicken coop and as long as you dont have any pets that like to eat plants, then you should be good with them.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 9:58PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I have some canna, they do great, in fact too well, they got over grown very quickly, but you may have to dig up and store inside in the winter. That is easy to do however, the bulbs lift out easy. You can get a sort of common basic canna bulbs in a baggie at lowes or homedepot, don't waste money buying plants in pots. I think it was 3.99 for three bulbs. If you buy a plant, it costs more like 16.99 because they get big fast. If they do die you can even replace the bulbs each year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Oh my, I have "coop envy," big time!!! My neighbor complained, and I had to find homes for my five little poulets just before they began laying. Sigh.

Oh yeah, move those arborvitae while you can, they will get humongous. My DH put some in front of his garden shed, and now they are encroaching on the walkway.

If you have a chance to grow some canna in pots, I suggest two really exotic types, PHASION and BENGAL TIGER. Here is the Phasion in a large pot for its second year.

And here it is in the ground with the Bengal Tiger. I split some of the little pups off from the potted mama, and they love the ground. Both the green and the burgundy bloom orange.

This is a closeup of the BENGAL TIGER ...a knockout.

And a closeup of the PHASION:

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:33PM
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Ugh...those cannas are AMAZING! I DO want to get some bengal tiger and tropicanna (phasion) for next year....definitely. I have some generic green canna with an orange flower....well, orange and yellow sort of....I don't know what kind it is, it came in a bag of bulbs labelled "giant cannas". I also found a canna Australia this year, which has grown and spread beautifully! I just love it! But those are two kinds I'm after, the tropicanna and bengal tiger, those are the two original ones I wanted to begin with. I ended up planting them on both sides of the door of my chicken coop...I'll share a pic I just happened to take yesterday!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 12:47PM
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Aha, it also looks like you have some BLACK STAR poulets. They are the best laying little hens ever. And your covered coop yard is a great idea too. Hawks have a taste for nice plump chicken.

I looked up the Australia canna, and it is the next one for me. Awesome.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 8:25PM
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