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If you want to bring a touch of the tropics to your garden, these exotic and subtropical plants will bring a sense of adventure to your space. With this it mind, before turning your garden into a tropical haven, there are a few things to consider…

Things to think about

Firstly, the microclimate of your garden is an ideal place to start. Northern gardeners may find that they need more hardy plants, on the other hand, urban gardeners might be able to happily grow tender plants in the sheltered and warmer conditions.

Secondly, many of the following plants can grow quite big! So, be sure to think about the size of your space so you don’t have any tall and wide plants squeezed in with not enough room to thrive.

Acca sellowiana (pineapple guava)

This bushy, evergreen shrub has grey-green toned leaves with the added interest of white felt-textured undersides. In summer, four-petalled flowers bloom with clusters of red stamens with yellow tips of pollen. What’s more, in autumn, they may surprise you and produce edible red-green fruit.

  • Sun – Full sun
  • Position – West or South-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, chalk, or loam
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Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia)

The next pick is another evergreen shrub, but the large leaves look almost Jurassic. Growing to 4m tall and wide, they are very hardy so can bring an exotic twist to many garden styles from informal gardens to city and courtyard spaces.

  • Sun – Full shade, full sun or partial shade
  • Position – West, South or East-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam
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Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)

The strap-shaped leaves of this perennial will bring some more grey-green foliage to your borders. Together with their height, growing to 4m tall and 2.5m wide, these low-maintenance plants will also add some architectural interest. With this in mind, if gardening in northern climes, it may need protecting from cooler temperatures.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – South, North, West or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand or loam
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Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (Japanese blood grass)

With brilliant spikes of crimson red, this will bring drama to beds and borders. A deciduous grass that grows to 50cm, it looks great when mixed with bold-coloured flowers and complementing foliage. Although it is a low-maintenance pick, it may need some winter protection in cooler areas.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – South, West or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Clay or loam
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Asplenium scolopendrium (hart’s tongue fern)

Lastly, this fern will give texture with its rosette of arching strap-shaped waved fronds. Ferns are a must have in the garden, and they are a great contender for a dry and shaded spot as well as being used for underplanting.

  • Sun – Full shade or partial shade
  • Position – South, North, West or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture –Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam
Rose-petal-salad-2

Without a doubt, these exotic and subtropical plants will add something special to your garden because of their colours and textures. Generally low maintenance and hardy, your garden will look great with the mixture of graceful leaf shapes, bold colours, and striking structures.

For more on tropical style gardens, read this:

Or, check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

tropical style garden
Tropical style gardens
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Pinterest Board


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