Foolproof Winter-Hardy Tropical Plants
Photo By: Shutterstock/Tony Baggett
Photo By: Shutterstock/Nadezhda Kharitonova
Photo By: Logee's Plants
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Photo By: BaileyNurseries.com
Japanese Fiber Banana
Banana is one of the first plants most of us conjure to mind when we envision the tropical look. With its long and broad, leafy foliage, it is a great plant to create a tropical feel in the garden. Treated strictly as ornamentals, these types of bananas are grown for their foliage, not for fruit. Bananas can grow to 15 feet tall and be quite dramatic with their large leaves. Use bananas in large containers or as specimen plants in landscape beds. The most cold-hardy variety is Japanese fiber banana (Musa basjoo) which doesn't have the beautiful coloration of the more tropical ornamental bananas but, if well mulched, has even come back from -20 degrees F.
Hardy Sugar Cane
Soft Shield Fern
Soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum) has feathery, dark green, narrow fronds that are evergreen and the perfect contrast to bold-leaved plants. They look tropical, but are actually hardy. It's outstanding for shade gardens and naturalizes well in woodland settings.
The huge trumpet-shaped flowers and large leaves of angel's trumpet (Brugmansia) make a dramatic statement in any garden. A tropical plant that can grow up to 10 feet in one summer, this plant is great either for containers or the mixed border. White-, pink-, yellow-, peach- and purple-flowering varieties are available. Give this plant moist, rich, well-drained soil in full sun to part or light shade. During the growing season feed every 2 weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Hardy to USDA Zone 7. In frost-free areas of the country — and in its native South America — angel's trumpet is a woody evergreen shrub.
Valued for its wide range of foliage and flower colors, this well-loved plant adds a colorful, tropical flair to any garden but also bold texture and height. Foliage colors range from solid greens to blacks to variegations combining a wide range of sizzling hot colors, including red, pink, yellow and orange. Flower colors range from white, red, orange, yellow, pink and bicolors. Typically blooms from July to October. Plant size is 2 to 6 feet tall and wide, depending on cultivar; there are dwarf and giant cannas as well. Treat as an herbaceous perennial in warmer climates. Dig rhizomes for overwintering indoors in USDA Zones 3 to 6 — or for added winter protection, heavily mulch plants in Zones 6 to 7. Image courtesy of Plant Delights.
Chinese Windmill Palm
The 'Wagnerianus' Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) has short, stiff leaves that stands erect. Plant in well drained situations, preferably with protection from strong winds. It is slow growing and perfect for a smaller yard. It's hardy to zone 6b and higher.