Tropical Gardens in Containers

Create a lush summer look in the garden or on the patio by planting a banana plant and other warm-weather beauties.


Show-stopping plants with "wow" factor, tender Abyssinian bananas are ideal for terraces and patios, where they give welcome shade and form a structural backdrop to other exotics. They must be kept in a warm area during winter, so bear this in mind before you buy.

When to Start: Late spring
At Its Best: Early summer to early fall
Time to Complete: 1 hour

Materials Needed:

  • large pot
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • multipurpose potting mix
  • Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum) 'Maurelii'
  • Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii'
  • Clerodendrum thomsoniae
  • Medinilla magnifica

Plant Your Bananas

Line the base of a pot with broken clay pot pieces, and plant the banana plant in multipurpose potting mix. Widely available, banana plants are large perennials that grow very quickly in summer. They like a sunny spot, sheltered from strong winds that could tear their leaves.

Feeding and Care

To encourage the strongest, most luscious growth, water the plants regularly and feed every week using a liquid fertilizer. You can add to the display by underplanting your bananas with ferns, trailing bedding plants or other exotics with attractive foliage.

Overwintering Bananas

Moving Large Pots

Moving Large Pots

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

To make sure your banana plant survives the winter, bring the pot indoors before the first frosts. A plant mover (left) will make the task easier. Remove older leaves and keep the plant in a room or heated greenhouse at a minimum temperature of 45 degrees F. Don't water in the colder months but start again in spring.

Next Up

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There is a huge range of widely available, often subtropical, large-leaved plants that can be grown easily outside in summer. In complete contrast to the archetypal English garden, flowers are out, and dramatic, jungly leaf shapes are in.

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To ensure that plants in gardening containers grow and perform as well as possible, you need to plant them properly.

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Tropical schemes are easily put together. Pick your star architectural plants, fill the gaps with flowers and foliage, then check that the pots and background create the right illusion. Simplicity is the key.

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Plant a large, lush container and you'll easily turn your ordinary patio into a tropical escape.

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