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I want to work on giving our garden a more tropical/holiday feel. We have a well-established Fatsia Japonica & Mahonia Japonica, and have just planted out a couple of Coryline Autralis ("Variegata") so it's a start. Also have a Eucalyptus Tree in a teracotta pot which gives a nice mediterranean feel.


 Has anyone got any idea's for any more plants that may be worth trying?


..I wonder which part of the country you live in, as some of the nicer ones are not reliably hardy... however, Euphorbia mellifera has survived in my East Anglian garden down to -15c which defies the RHS hardiness rating of H2... but freezing wind is it's mortal enemy I think..  see what you think... it's a native of Madeira... I wouldn't be in a garden without it.. you see them more on the west coast, especially in Cornwall. 


Palms such as chamaerops are hardy here in Cornwall but most places I think. Slow growing and tropical. Yuccas look amazing but spiteful spines.  Phoenix canariensis grows everywhere down here too but pretty hardy I think.  

Phormiums in reds, pinks, yellows etc provide a tropical look but shrubs  like pseudopanax, pittosporums and acacias add to it too.  Olive trees in pots or in the ground?  How about a red or pink cordyline?  

The humble rosemary is a true Mediterranean plant with nice scented foliage and, if ??ou get the rich blue flowering ones, nice flowers too.  Add lavenders and a convolvulous cneorum in a terracotta pot....velvety silvery foliage cascading with pure white flowers.

And cannas......large leaves in red, purple, green, variegated.....growing to 7' with fantastic exotic looking flowers in late summer.  Grasses like stipa gigantea look exotic too....I currently have one 8' tall with plumes of golden flowers out shining everything else in the garden.  Other grasses like miscanthus.  I would avoid bamboo!  

Maybe check out a hardy tropic nursery too....see what can grow for you.


Hardtropicals ( is the place to get more inspiration.

Verdun's suggestions are spot on though for Palms, the only one provan truly hardy in the UK is Trachycarpus fortunei. Canary Island Date Palm (CIPD)  is not hardy and should be seen as annual bedding apart from fortunate places in coastal Cornwall etc. Otherwise inside a dry greenhouse all winter, but they grow big.

Musa and ensete look the part and canna musifolia are tropical looking and give the jungle look.

Salina's suggestion for Euphorbia is also spot on!

Rodgersia, Ligularia, Rheum, Gunnera Manicata, Bamboo also immediately come to mind.


I always think crocosmia and kniphofia together give a very tropical look, it what are very hardy plants. 


Andy, meant to add crocosmia....lucifer ESP. 

Its difficult here cos most everything is hardy here.  

For tropical feeling and appearance.... .and very hardy .......acteas, formerly cimicifuga, look great.  Especially the brown leaved forms like brunette. Black negligee, etc.  They have an architectural shape and provide white scented flowers. Grow these next to miscanthus variegatus which has white and green leaves grows to 7' and makes a narrow fountain of foliage topped with flowers in September.  


@ Verdun:

Why would you avoid bamboo?

I was thinking of planting bamboo, but I am unsure about the drainage it requires.


Bamboo can be a thug if it's the 'running' type. Clump forming ones can be contained in their own bed or a big pot but you have to keep a careful watch on them. Anything with big leaves will be good Kleeblatt- some of the dark elders or ligularias for example. Also phormiums are exactly the right 'look'. Plenty of grasses- big or small- Miscanthus gets to a good height and there are lots of easily obtainable varieties. Ordinary plants amongst them will add to the look-  lady's mantle (alchemilla) but it does seed about, or ferns as they get to a good size and give a strong contrast in leaf shape. Hot colours of lilies - day lilies and alstroemeria included , and even things like rhododendron as they give a good leaf shape and you can get strong flower colours. If you want calmer colours and more of a foliage look you can get white varieties of lilies and rhodies too.


In my 'tropical' bed I've got cannas, dahlias, eucomis, begonias, kniphofia, cordyline (except the rabbits have destroyed it), crocosmia, lots of lillies, hemerocallis, tritoma, verbena bonariensis, and a big banana.  I lift the cannas, eucomis, begonias and dahlias for the winter, and I wrap the banana, but everything else is perfectly happy (and we are on HEAVY clay on north facing slope).  I left the dahlias in the ground one year and they were all fine, but just flowered a little later than usual.  Also each year I grow ricinis from seed - they are fantastic, really scary big tropical things!  And then I fill the gaps with red amaranthus (love-lies-bleeding) and nicotiana sylvestris.

Even though most of these aren't strictly 'tropical' the overall effect is wonderfully jungly and vividly colourful. 

There seems to be a problem with WHAT ARE TROPICAL PLANTS.

The climate they live in has a temperature minimum of 85 degrees F. (27 C) every day of the year and most commonly 30 C = 90F. My wife and I are fortunate to spend a big part of January and February in the West Indes each year  where we see in gardens the most exotic plants which could not survive anything near the European climate.

Orchid World in Barbados has a fabulous display of Orchids with plants tied to wooden stakes, no soil or compost but just surviving by their Epiphyte nature from moisture and food taken from the air. There are 30,000 varieties in the 30 acre gardens and what a site! Also Heliconia, my favourite Tropical plant (cousins of the `Bird of Paradise`).

To look upon Bamboo, Dahlias and Begonias as Tropical is ridiculous.


To be fair he didn't say he wanted tropical plants, he said he wanted to give his garden a more tropical/holiday feel. The two are very different, clearly he's not going to build the eden project in his back garden, but there are many tropical looking plants which are hardy and will give the feel he's looking for.

That's the way I interpreted it too..tropical LOOKING plants. My first post clearly referred to this

We all have different views on bamboos but it is very, very silly to plant any of them.  They are destructive.  A grower of bamboos was featured on GW a while back amd even he admitted defeat with some of them. As a naive gardener a few years back I planted what I comsidered to be well-behaved varieties. Within 2 years they were creeping underground and popping up several feet away.  I had a lot of digging over a wide area to finally eradicate them. 

On the tropical theme, bamboos are not tropical but look it!!


Have a look at Cardoon. Not tropical but I think it has that look. Mine grows rapidly each spring and has lovely purple seedheads in the Summer / Autumn. Dies down in the Winter. I water it well in Summer and cut off any leaves that become unsightly, but I've found it as tough as old boots.

Would not recommend trying to cook any of it, even though it was eaten in Elizabethan times ( Artichoke) ..tried once..would have been better to have eaten the old boots! 

I love fried old boots


Verd....and they talk about the Scots' least we only do pies and Mars bars....



Verdun & FG

Huntertony, I once had a Paulownia elongata, I was told that if I kept it cut back each year the leaves grew as large as dinner plates. I was worried when I read up about it as in Canada it is a nuisance growing wild in car parks etc.

I did as told and it was very impressive. But then it died. I think it's worthy of a look if you like Fatsia Jap.

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