Your Own Tropical Oasis
Tropical Landscaping is a great way to bring bright flowers and lush green foliage to front yards and around pool areas. Tropical plants are known for having the best and most prolific blooms as well as excellent tolerance for heat and sun. However, there are several things you need to be aware of when planting tropicals. While tropical plants are some of the most vibrant and lush, most do not do well in extreme drought nor can most handle freezing temperatures. There are some hardy tropical plants but most do not begin their bloom cycle until mid to late May. Here are a list of the most popular tropical plants, both cold tender and hardy varieties and how to care for them throughout the year.
Tropical Hibiscus are an excellent continuous blooming small shrub. Growing to about 4-5′ tall and wide this tropical excels in the sun. Because hibiscus bloom so profusely be sure to feed this tropical frequently but lightly with a slow release balanced fertilizer such as Espomas’ organic Flower Tone (3-4-5) . To get the most blooms out of your hibiscus it is recommended to feed in early spring, after the 1st bloom cycle and again in mid Summer and early Fall. These tropical plants are not tolerant to the cold so be prepared to bring them inside during cold spells or replace them the following season.
The trademark Tradewind Tropical Hibiscus is a compact version of the tropical hibiscus with a denser compact growth habit and a more profuse bloom pattern. These are exceptional bloomers and excellent plants for pots or in focal points in your landscape. Feed these often and have these in the full sun for best bloom results.
There are several hardy hibiscus that can winter well in Texas but they are markedly different from the tropical varieties. The foliage is different from its tropical brothers and the blooms are actually larger and rounder. They die back in the winter and come back each spring, growing quickly into a large shrub by mid to late may reaching 4-6′ in height. The most common varieties are the Texas Star and Luna hardy hibiscus with slightly different shaped blooms.
Another staple of tropical landscapes are banana trees with large broad leaves that are always associated with a tropical feel. Most banana trees planted in North Texas are not fruit producing due to our climate, but they are commonly used as an ornamental accent because of their large and lush foliage. There are standard banana trees that can reach 12-15′ in height and also dwarf varieties Dwarf Ensette and Red or Rojo Bananas that only get 3-5′ tall. The dwarf varieties often have variegated leaves that bright contrasting color to your landscape.
Ferns are another great foliage regularly associated with tropical landscapes. Their unique foliage is a great ornamental accent in beds and pots. Use Wood, Autumn, Holly, or Japanese Painted ferns in shady areas of your landscape and Asparagus and Foxtail ferns in the sunny areas. Most ferns are cold hardy in North Texas with the exception being Kimberly Queen and Boston ferns which need protection from below freezing temperatures.
Sweet Potato Vine
This is one of the most popular sun loving annual accent plants in North Texas. Sweet Potato Vine is known for is vibrant lime green or dark purple foliage that thrives in full sun and creeps down pots or spills out of flower beds. This annual does not like cool weather and grows slowly in early spring and will not survive through near freezing temperatures.
Another profuse blooming tropical shrub is the Bougainvillaea. This shrub thrives in full sun areas and appreciates light watering every other day during the hottest summer months, but will reward with profuse bright blooms that are known to cover the plant for extended periods of time. If properly fertilized this tropical will have more blooms than foliage so make sure to feed with a 12-4-18 bougainvillaea specific food. This tropical does not survive freezing temperatures so bring these inside during the winter months.
Palms are the go to tree selection for any tropical landscaping. The most popular choice for a large palm is the Windmill palm. Windmill palms have slender trunks that grow their own natural burlap to protect themselves during cold spells and can grow 15-25′ high in our climate. The most popular dwarf palm is the Sago palm. Sago’s do not do well with periods of extended cold and need to be wrapped when temperatures drop below freezing. The most cold hardy palms are the large trunk Texas or Florida Sable Palms. Other great palms to consider include the Pindo and California Fan Palm.
This is just a few most popular selections for tropical landscaping but come stop by and ask about other choices including philodendron, shrimp plant, Japanese Aralia, Palm Trees and more!