Growing tropicals in Jacksonville FL

airedale689January 22, 2014

I want to landscape my yard tropical. I already have
-2 cycads
-3 pineapple palms
-3 pygmy-date palms
-6 smaller crotons (planted around a large palm)
-2 Hawaiian Ti Trees
-Russellia (firecracker plant)

I have been thinking of adding the Crown of Thorns and also some agaves in the backyard. How do these look through the year?

Also Bird of Paradise or Banana Poquito has been a thought. But around here it looks like many get burnt up by the sun and also freeze damage in the winters. Do they come back fairly quickly for the summer? I already have half of my yard with ornamental grasses looking shabby half of the year.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Since there are dozens of types of Agaves as well as crown of thorns Most remain about the same year around
some species get huge and all have thorns
. As a guess I'd say around a 1000 varieties of Banana with many types of habit leaves and fruit Some rather cold
resistant some very sensitive
BOP There are at least 15 varieties ranging from around 3 to 30 feet in height..
I'm in 10 florida so can't help much with the cold hardiness. Much depends on what you want the plant for and of course how much room you want to devote to them. Sounds like you're thinking of a "landscape""?? gary

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Crown of thorns will survive, with lots of mulch, down to about 40 degrees. It gets colder than that in Jacksonville during the winter. You'd have to drag them into your house for the winter.

Agaves are very hardy - Aloes are not. You will just have to drive around your area and see what has survived this winter.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You should be able to do well with Gardenias, Osmanthus fragrans, Jasmines for exotic fragrance, Brugmansia, Billbergia, Heliconia, Cucurma for exotic blooms, and so many summer-blooming bulbs, Colocasia for giant leaves, Philodendron bipinnatifidum. Aucuba japonica 'Gold Dust' looks like it shouldn't survive cold but does. Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) if you like purple leaves.

I wouldn't and don't let occasional frost burn or winter dormancy stop me from trying bananas or anything reasonably hardy mentioned above. Cut that stuff off the next time you go out there, and it'll always look as nice as possible at any given time. No plant always has all perfect leaves, I'm always trimming something. If you don't enjoy that though, or trying to fuss with lights or sheets for protection, those plants that would be damaged would be best avoided, don't kid yourself if that's how you feel.

Agaves are common here, definitely hardy. Various Yuccas as well, a Ti plant growing wild red leaves back from the roots would be fine with me, though I haven't tried that one yet.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with kayjones. A crown of thorns can be a good one for your garden. You can use Aloes with your landscape.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 1:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I live in Jacksonville.

My experience with "regular" Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is that they will survive just fine right down to 32 degrees. Less than that, they may get a little frostbite at the top but will survive and come back stronger than ever in the spring. Some will not even die back at all, even at temps of 28-32. They may have a little leaf loss and that is it.

Hybrid Thai Crown of Thorns (Euphrobia lomi), on the other hand, are much more sensitive. They will suffer frostbite and dieback at anything 32 and below. They will come back from the base and roots though.

I had aloe for years. I never covered them or protected them during any winter I grew them. Being that they are right on the ground, they never froze back at all. Multiplied like crazy but never any freeze damage during even the coldest of winters. I finally got rid of them because I was not a fan. Patient Zero had been a gift in the first place. When I pulled them, I gave away four huge boxes full.

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I should have added: all of my Crown of Thorns - both types - are in pots. I don't have any in the ground. I am going to try them in the ground this year. Will plant them in March.

For point of reference, I am located in Southside almost exactly half way between the ocean and the St. Johns River.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

The Hawaiian ti's will freeze to the ground in bad winters in Jax. Last year mine didn't freeze at all but this year the ones I left out are toast. They will usually re emerge in the spring. I usually put some in the greenhouse to grow bigger so I have some instant spring color.

There are lots of bananas that are quite hardy. I have raja puri and ice cream in the ground. They got bit good this year but just the leaves. The stems are still good and solid. They always fruit but the bananas don't usually make maturity before we get a freeze.
If you get the smaller bananas like double mahoi, raja puri, orinico, dwf cavendish etc. and keep them in large pots, you can put them in your greenhouse in order to get mature fruits. Veinte cohol is a variety that is supposed to fruit and mature faster so I am going to try that one this year.
There are also some really pretty decorative bananas like musa velutina that make velvety pink bananas and they will reseed and are hardy to zone 7.

Along with the gardenias and Osmanthus fragrans you can also grow Banana shrub (Michelia figo). It is hardy to zone 7 and evergreen and best of all it has an intense banana vanilla fragrance that is very tropical ! I have two of these and I just love them. They can reach 15 ft but you can trim them any way you want.
I was surprised that I had a hard time finding the Banana shrub when I first moved here. I grew it in S. Louisiana and fell in love with it. So I mail ordered a few when I moved here.
I agree with the colocasias and alocasias. Many of the colocasias are hardy to zone 7b or 8. Many of the alocasias need a little more protection but scream tropical so I find them worth the effort.
I also grow monstera deliciosa (both the green and variegated varieties). They make great winter houseplants but will freeze if left out.

I have century plants and prickly pear in the ground and both are pretty hardy. I have to cover my blue tequila agave with a thick quilt but I leave it out under an oak in its pot. It still looks okay after a few night in the 20's this year.
Brugmansia is root hardy in Jax but it will freeze to the ground. The ones I leave out, do come back and flower well. IF you want to save seedpods you will have to overwinter them in the gh or somewhere freeze proof.

Crotons will freeze so you will have to move them indoors as well during frost. They resent being cold or having wet feet when its cold. This winter we got lots of rain and cold so I keep mine in pots.
I have found that the double rangoon creeper/drunken sailor vine is root hardy here in zone 9a. The vine dies to the ground but it comes back from the roots and flowers and it smells very nice. Ditto with cestrum nocturnum and jasminium polyanthum.
Many passifloras are hardy and have an exotic look.

I have papyrus grass and hardy waterlilies in water container gardens and they do well without protection. The tops of some of the papyrus gets a little burnt but its pulls through okay.
Smaller/bowl lotus can be grown in water containers and some are very hardy (down to zn 4) depending on the variety, and also looks pretty exotic.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Many of the gingers (hedychiums, costus, kaemferia, cucurma etc.)are hardy to zn 9 and some even down to 7b so that might be another look you could try. Many of the hedychiums/butterfly gingers are also very fragrant.

This post was edited by sultry_jasmine_night on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 21:33

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Sultry! I have a question about your Hawaiian Tis: do they usually come back at the top, from side nodes, or from the roots? Mine, like yours, are also toast. That hard freeze in early January got them. This was my first year with them so I'm not sure how to expect them to return. In fact, I wasn't even sure they would, so thank you for your post!

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Hi Carol,
Are any part of the stems still firm? If so, they may come back from the stem where the little nodules are, and kind of make a new branch. If not, then they may come back from the ground.
In severe freezes I have had some not return at all. Usually they seem to come back from the ground here when the stems freeze all the way but we got very cold this year...
I have read that Ti plants that get froze back,even once,will never reach their potential height even though they will still grow. I don't know if that's true. I am thinking they would probably put up new 'canes' and that those newer 'canes' would get their full height.

The ones I left out this year froze to the ground so we'll have to see if they come back or not. I kept my Black Magic Ti and some other pink ones in pots so they are still good and they seem to love gh conditions except they are very prone to aphids underneath the leaves.

My gh propane heater broke during that freeze and we substituted an electric one and that one actually worked better than the propane so most of the gh stuff still actually looks pretty decent.

Here is a Ti that I kept in a pot and it flowered

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

These red wide leaved ti plants came back from after a hard freeze but they were planted close to the house so maybe the roots and very bottom stem under the ground wasn't damaged.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Sultry JN, sorry for the late response... but THANK YOU so much for your input on the ti plants/cordyline. I have been watching mine but no sign of life yet. I had to whack off the tops to get them short enough to put under protective tubs so they are nothing but stems. Some feel mushy at the top and others are firm. I will give them at least until May or June to make a return because they aren't taking up much room. It will be interesting to see what I get.

Your photos are gorgeous! All of your plants look so lush and healthy and to think, you live north of me! :)


    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hey! Check out my ti plants!


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We can get into the teens on occasion. These are the full-sun tropicals I have that are 100% reliable:

Orinoco banana (a 20-ft tall beast here)
Tecoma Stans
Blue agave
Variegated shell gingers
Bird of paradise
Heliconia rostrata (although it won't bloom)
Night-blooming jasmine
Maid of Orleans jasmine
Angel's trumpet

Ti plants might hang on for a few years but then die. Pygmy date palms sustain heavy damage when we have a bad winter.

Otherwise, the plants listed above might burn to the dirt in the winter, but they come right back. If it weren't for the occasional knock-down, it would all get very much out of control.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 3:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
My wee lychee: what does it need
I have a lychee sapling, that I grew from a grocery-store...
Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)
Around this time of the year, the Blue Ginger blooms...
HAVE: for trade
I have close to 2000 different kinds of tropicals for...
Albuca spiralis seeds
Hello! Does anyone know from where can I get Albuca...
Broadleaf Tropical Indoor Plant ID Help
There is a picture of a large leaf plant, it appears...
Brett Reilly
Sponsored Products
Lakeland Mills Tete-a-Tete Porch Swing - CF1009
$249.00 | Hayneedle
Razor 20 in. Tempest Bike - 22081
$118.99 | Hayneedle
Slate and Eucalyptus End Table
Hanging Grow Bag
$7.99 | zulily
Hammaka Trailer Hitch Stand with Hammack Chair - 40531-KP
$279.97 | Hayneedle
Montreal 72 in. Dining Table - Caramelized - G0060
Hydrofarm Plant Markers - Pack of 50 Multicolor - HGPM50
$16.13 | Hayneedle
Palram Silver 8x20-foot Snap and Grow Greenhouse
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™