Family Planting: Tropical Garden

A tropical border is one of the most exciting plantings, filled with bold, colorful plants and reminiscent of a child’s fantasy jungle.
Tropical Gardens Filled with Colorful Exotics

Tropical Gardens Filled with Colorful Exotics

A tropical border is one of the most exciting plantings, filled with bold colorful plants. It will need winter protection since the majority of the tropical plants are not cold hardy. A greenhouse or shed comes in handy for over wintering.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Growing tropical plants is easier if you have a frost-free greenhouse or shed that you can move plants to in winter. If you have the equipment, and think you are up to the challenge, there is little to rival a tropical border in late summer. 

Border Basics 

  • Size: 10x6 ft (3x2 m) 
  • Suits: A deep border 
  • Soil: Well-drained but enriched with organic matter 
  • Site: Sunny 

Shopping List 

  • 1 x Musa ornata 
  • 3 x Canna “Durban” 
  • 1 x Verbena bonariensis 
  • 3 x Dahlia “Grenadier” 

Sowing and Aftercare 

As some of the plants in a tropical border are tender, it is important to wait until late spring, when all danger of frost has passed, to plant out. Verbena bonariensis is half-hardy and can stay in the soil all year in some zones, but all of the other plants will need some help to get through winter. Cannas can sometimes cope with winter frosts if given a thick mulch after they have died down, but it is safer to lift the whole plant and store it in a frost-free place. Likewise, the tubers of Dahlia “Grenadier” will need lifting, but if you choose a hardier dahlia, such as “Bishop of Llandaff,” you will save yourself this trouble. Most musas are not hardy and will need to be taken indoors, but plant Musa basjoo and you can get away with just wrapping the stems in winter.

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