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Best Tropical Plants: 10 Options to Enhance Your Garden

November 04, 2021 5 min read

Best Tropical Plants: 10 Options to Enhance Your Garden

Check out our top tropicals to make a statement in your garden with lush foliage and bold colours

Choosing the right tropical plants for your garden makes all the difference in taking your garden to the next level and creating a calm and tranquil sanctuary full of intrigue. Beautiful dense foliage, large bold leaves, bright-coloured exotic flowers and striking shapes are the cornerstones of this type of garden.

 Establishing a tropical garden is a wonderful, creative activity with no hard and fast rules. To start with consider blending a mix of shapes and sizes and layering foliage to create a dense jungle effect. Choose a mix of plants with flowers in bold, exotic colours like red, orange, yellows and purples. We look at our top 10 picks for creating outstanding tropical gardens below. Supplied in a premium potting mix with slow release fertiliser.

Heliconia 'Jacquinii'

Heliconia Jacquinii

An excellent landscaping heliconia, this plant is perfect for screening where height is required and it boasts beautiful red and yellow coloured bract flowers during Summer.

Position: Full sun to 30% shade

Height: Approx 3.5m - 4.5m

Shop Heliconia Jacquinii

 

 

Alpinia nutans - Dwarf Cardomon 

A great all-round plant for under-story planting and filling up larger areas, the Dwarf Cardomon is a small tropical ginger with dark green foliage and a spicy scent when rubbed or brushed.

The lush leaves of this plant tolerate full sun extremely well, making it a great option for creating a tropical garden when full sun is unavoidable. Also suited to growing in pots for a pop of tropical green. 

Shop Dwarf Cardomon

Position: Full sun to part shade

Height: 1m to 1.5m tall

Cascade palm

Cascade palm

Chamaedorea antrivens - Cascade Palm

This shade loving palm is great for shaded outdoor areas or in the garden and does really well on patios or indoors too. Its easy-care nature and strappy foliage make it a great choice for busy homes or offices.

Position: Part shade and indoors

Height: 2m

Shop Cascade Palm

Cordyline War Paint 

This is a trCordyline War Paint uly unique variety of cordyline to go for if you want to stand out from the rest with a stunning mixture of colours. The foliage is a triage of striking colours from deep red to soft pinks with lush green hints.

Position: Full sun to part shade

Height: 1.5m

Shop Cordyline War Paint

 

Strilenzia Nicolai(Giant White Bird of Paradise)

Named for its vibrant bird-shaped flowers which appear in Summer and Autumn,

Giant White Bird of Paradise

the Giant White Bird of Paradise has large, banana-tree like leaves which will instantly make you feel like you're living in a tropical oasis. Suited to a bright spot indoors, outdoors in a pot on the patio or full sun in the garden.

Position: Full sun to part shade and indoors

Height: 6m outdoors, restricted in pots

Shop Giant White Bird of Paradise

Lilly pillys 

The Australe Select variety has a narrower leaf shape than the Resilience var

iety of Lilly Pilly producing more compact foliage, making it an excellent screening choice. Characterised by its fast growth and tolerance to many pests and disease, this plant thrives in most conditions. Its rich tight green, glossy foliage provides a wonderful screening solution in a tropical environment and a striking backdrop for any garden. Also suited to growing in pots.  

 

Position: Full sun to part shade

Height: 4m to 5m

Shop the Lilly Pilly range

Pictured: Syzygium Australe Select - Lilly Pilly Select

Philodendron Shangri La

The Shangri La is a stylish tropic

al border plant the next step up from a Xanadu. It can be used as a mass planter too. With mid-green foliage depending on light levels, it’s also at home in a pot on the patio and fairly easy to grow. Our Shangri La plants have been reared in full sun to handle most spots in your garden well. 

Position: Full sun to part shade

Height: 1m

Shop Philodendron Shangri La

Calathea lutea - Havana Cigar

Native to the tropical Americas, the Havana Cigar plant makes a unique centre piece in any tropical garden or pot. Its large, round, elongated leaves suspended on the end of slender stems, give this plant an elegant appeal. 

Position: Full sun to part shade and indoors in bright light

Grows to: 3m outdoors, restricted in pots

Shop Havana Cigar

 

Cyrtostachys Renda (Lipstick palm ‘delight form’)

The bright red crown shafts and leaf sheaths of this palm make it an outstanding addition to any tropical garden or in a pot.

This variety of 'Delight Form' is able to handle cooler conditions than the pure form and therefore has a better chance of thriving in sub-tropical environments.

While the 'Delight Form' is designed to tolerate cooler conditions it is not guaranteed to grow in all conditions. It is a tropical palm that can handle somewhat cooler climates over the pure form, but it will still require additional care. Its best to choose a warm sheltered spot if considering planting in the garden. Some growers prefer to keep them in pots and move indoors during winter.  Position: Full sun/Indoors | Height: 6m in ideal conditions

 Shop Lipstick Palm ‘delight form’

 

Rhapis Excelsa - Lady Palm 

This unique, slow growing palm with dark green fan-shaped leaves tolerates low light conditions especially indoors or outdoors in a shaded position. This palm will become full sun tolerant over time.

Position: Part shade, or indoors

Height: 4m to 5m

Shop Lady Palm

Caring for Your Tropicals

As their name indicates, tropical plants need heat to flourish, so if you’re in a colder area, do your research on plant choices carefully to help ensure success. For the most part, tropical gardens don't demand heavy-duty attention to achieve growth and tend to take off when summer heat builds up.

For most Tropicals, the right mix of full sun with ample watering results in jumbo-leaves and jaw-dropping flowers or bracts creating a soothing, lush retreat vibe. It's worth researching the specific fertilizer and soil needs of your plants to make sure you’re providing the right nutritional mix.

In general, a mature composted worked into the soil and/or nitrogen-rich fertilizer generates a steady supply of larger and more numerous leaves. If it’s dense foliage you’re after, this point is particularly important.

Tropical plants remind us of the wild, untamed places and create a feeling of calm and relaxation in our gardens. With large glossy leaves or delicate fronds, and ornate orchid flowers that emerge mysteriously, many Tropicals will naturally become statement pieces in your garden. Enjoy the journey!

 

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NURSERY NEAR YOU?

You can order online at Sunshine Coast Plants and get your chosen plants delivered straight from the nursery to your door. To buy plants online for the Sunshine Coast, Southeast Queensland and NSW areas, shop with us today!

NEED MORE GARDENING TIPS?

Visit our Plant Tips area for our top gardening advice. We’re adding to it all the time.


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