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Tropical paradise?

Posted by jack9 zone 6 (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 10, 07 at 18:57

Hi All, I have a crazy friend who just bought a house in the high hills of CT - zone 5, and he wants to surround his pool with tropical or tropical looking plants - trees, shrubs, perennials and whatever else. Great. BTW, he's way too lazy to dig up anything for winter storage! Why he asked me for suggestions is beyond me - I'm clueless. The only thing I can think of to do is to ask the experts - that's YOU! So what do you think? Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.....thanks much, Jack

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tropical paradise?

Wait a few more years, and maybe he'll graduate to a 7 or an 8. Untill then, hard pressed for a tropical look in zone 5 without winter protection.

RE: Tropical paradise?

Some plants only LOOK tropical but they can actually stand quite a bit of cold. Suggest to your friend this book: Hot Plants for Cool Climates by Susan Roth and Dennis Schrader. Publisher is Houghton Mifflin. It gives lots of great ideas for temperate climate plants that give the "look" of tropical. For instance, the Rose-of-Sharon shrub is close cousin to Hibiscus, but it is good to Zone 5. Fountain bamboo (Fargesia nitida) and umbrella bamboo (F. Murielae) are the hardiest of their kind and can take minus 25 Celsius winter weather. I also grow tall grasses like any of the Miscanthus chinensis types and great yuccas. Some annuals look very tropical - example: castor bean plants, both the green and the purple, vines with big leaves like morning glories. Colour can also look tropical - think anything with big flowers in hot colours like yellow and orange lilies, Mexican sunflower. If your friend is willing to have a FEW pots, how about great big coleus in many colours, bright coloured impatiens and elephant ears (Colocasia). Heck - we even have a permanently outdoors banana (Musa basjoo) here in Ottawa, Canada! It grows in a sheltered spot and gets cut down and covered with a bundle of leaves or hay each fall. Takes about 5 minutes to do.


Zone 5 is tough for tropicals, Here is the best chance he has. Needle palm is the hardies palm there is, he may be able to leave it in the ground if he raps it up in winter. The hardies elephant ear is Colocasia 'Pink China' It grows in zone 6a and is said that it may grow in 5 with heavy mulch. Banana Musa basjoo will grow there, but will need heavy mulch in winter. Plant a shade tree, and under that plant large leaved hosta and ferns together and in the spring he can plant some a few flowers with them. There are some yuccas that he can grow.. like 'color guard' ( a variegated yucca)and for a tall trunked ones Yucca thompsoniana and rostrata. Zebra Malden Grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' would also look great! There are a few hardy hibiscus that he can grow, one of the hardiest and most tropical looking ones would be Hibiscus 'Moy Grande' large red flowers all season long. It will die back in winter but come back in spring. A little mulch would be good for that one too. And the hardiest Agave that is rated at zone 5 would be Agave parryl subsp.parryl. There is a few Rhododendrons that will take some sun. Oriental lilies are also very tropical looking, and smell good too. A tall lily would be Lilium formosanum, it can reach 7' tall with 10" fragant flower on top. A new clumping bamboo for zone 5 is Fargesia rufa 8' tall.

RE: Tropical paradise?

steve nc 7b and shapiro please tell me how i should shelter tropicals if they are hardy to zone 8a when i live in 5a.

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