Canadian Tropics

OnMedic(Z5 (SW Ontario))July 18, 2004

First Post! Yipeee!

I am new to this and want to start slow. I have designated a small garden bed for the tropical experiment that I hope some here can help me with! It is about 2 ft. x 7 ft. A picture of it can be seen at the following link, don't mind the unfinished deck and construction, it has moved beyong that stage.

Where do I start? Can I start this in late July, or do I need to do it in the spring? I am in Kitchener, Ontario.

I would love to have a dwarf palm of some sort (6-8 ft tall and some nice ornamental grasses (ie. malepartus?).

Takle it easy on this beginner, but help with a stepped approach.

THANKS in advance, and I can't beleive this string has been going for over 2 years!


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OnMedic(Z5 (SW Ontario))

Oh ya, the back of the house has Southwest exposure, so it gets full sun from around noon until sunset. VERY hot back there during the summer! I will be working on a way to use the heat created by the hot tub during the winter to warm the area where the tropical plants will be planted, but lets not make that a factor yet, at which point I may be able to look at z7'ish plants easily I assume.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 10:21AM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

Congratulations on your beginnings! You're going to have lots of fun with this project! Now here is a list of plants you might want to begin with:
Miscanthus sacchariflorus (floridus) - a very tall perennial grass...looks a bit like sugar cane
Hibiscus moscheutos-- the "dinner plate" perennial hibiscus with giant blooms
Musa basjoo-japanese fibre banana which is root hardy with lots of winter protection
Trachycarpus fortunei--Chinese windmill palm...very hardy and may survive winter with protection in your area
Fargesia murellei - umbrella bamboo...a clumping form that is winter hardy and non invasive

You can punch up the colour with annuals like some of the new coleus, clematis or honeysuckle, ornamental sweet potato, amaranthus, throw in some scented stocks (matthiola) brugmansia and datura, and you have an aromatic and showy tropical bed. If you want some quick "size" this year, see of you can pick up some cheap tropicals like majesty palms, etc at your local Wal-mart, which can you may either bring in to winter over in the house, or just let them die off in the winter.

There's a good supplier of many of the plants I mentioned in B.C., from whom I have ordered with good results....the site is

Throw some coffee grounds and peat into that flower bed, and watch those puppies grow! Have fun!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 8:48AM
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OnMedic(Z5 (SW Ontario))


Thanks for the great post. I have been to the website and have also sent Ray an email there for suggestions. I will peak at the suggestions that you sent and get started by ordering what I can from and some grasses from

Is this too late in the season to get going on this?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 9:31AM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

I think Ray has the grasses you need too. It's not too late, but of course you're not going to enjoy the full size of the plants this year. Plant in the evening and water in well, or better yet, plant on an overcast/rainy day.......which will give your plants time to adjust and reduce shock. I give my tropicals double-strength Miracle-Grow every week, which really pushes them on. Next year, get some of the giant cannas, some taro, a few of the showy caladiums, a few castor beans and abutilons and you'll be in full tropical mode! Keep an eye out for Boca Joe's posting in the Tropicalesque forum too. He's a good buddy of mine and can offer lots of helpful suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 10:20AM
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