Tropical Container Arrangement

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

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Tropical Patio PlantsEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The best ingredients for a tropical pot have large, lush leaves (the banana plant, Ensete ventricosum); leaves with special shapes (Melianthus major) and colors (Heuchera); and extraordinary flowers (the spider flower, Cleome). This scheme, also includes a speckled-leaved calla lily (Zantedeschia) and, a complete surprise, wild rye (Elymus).

It is important that a tropical display doesn't look too contrived and neat. So plant the tall banana on one side, letting it dominate, with the contrasting bushy Melianthus beneath, and spiky Elymus centered in the foreground. Although the flowers are not the big attraction, make sure that the spider flowers are not masked by foliage and can be clearly seen.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 x Cleome hassleriana
  • 1 x Ensete ventricosum
  • 1 x Melianthus major
  • 1 x Zantedeschia 'Anneke'
  • 1 x Elymus magellanicus
  • 1 x Heuchera (purple-leaved)
  • 3 x Spilanthes oleracea

Planting and Aftercare

Container basics:
Size Approx. 24 x 24 in (60 x 60 cm), 3-ft- (90-cm-) tall, brightly colored container
Suits Contemporary or tropical
Potting mix Multipurpose potting mix
Site Full sun

Use a large, eye-catching, weighty pot that won't blow over. Stand it in a sheltered spot to stop the banana leaves from being flayed by winds. Water well over summer. The banana, arum lily, and Melianthus won't tolerate a cold, wet winter — though the Melianthus is hardier — and are best kept at 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) in a heated greenhouse. Discard the annual spider flower and Spilanthes, and grow them from seed the next spring.

Plant Specifics

Cleome hassleriana (Image 1)
Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost, Moist soil, Well-drained soil, Full sun

Ensete ventricosum (Image 2)
Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost, Moist soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Melianthus major (Image 3)
Plants that need protection from frost over winter, Well-drained soil, Full sun

Zantedeschia 'Anneke' (Image 1)
Tender plants that do not tolerate any degree of frost, Moist soil, Full sun

Elymus magellanicus (Image 2)
Fully hardy plants, Moist soil, Well-drained soil, Full sun

Heuchera (purple-leaved) (Image 3)
Fully hardy plants, Moist soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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