Some Tropical Flowers You Can Grow Anywhere

Tropical Flowers for Every Garden

Datura, bromeliad, and impatiens flowers
Jamie McIntosh
Tropical flowers bring a sense of “more” to your garden: more color, more fragrance, more size, and even more butterflies. Discover 14 tropical flowers that will bring their exotic beauty to gardeners in any climate.

Hibiscus

The tropical hibiscus brings a flamenco vibe to the patio and container garden even for beginners. When it comes to the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, if you provide ample sunshine and generous water, you will receive nonstop blooms up to eight inches in diameter throughout the growing season.

Like many tropical flowers, the brilliant colors of the hibiscus are a beacon to butterflies. You can choose varieties that complement any color scheme, as the blooms come in hot shades like yellow, orange, and…MORE

Bromeliad

The complicated anatomy of a bromeliad bloom begs for closer inspection, both from insect and human admirers. In fact, the Bromeliaceae family is a large and diverse one that includes plants like pineapples and the grey curly Spanish moss popular in craft displays. Gardeners who refer to growing bromeliads in general are probably talking about the Aechmea or Guzmania genera, two groups that encompass many popular garden plant varieties.

 

Clivia

Clivia miniata, sometimes called Natal lily, is coveted by many gardeners as a tough houseplant that thrives in low light areas. Not only will clivia grow in your previously barren north-facing windowsill, it likes to be on the dry side, grows best with minimal fertilizer, and is happiest when root bound in a crowded pot. Finally, the perfect tropical plant for those with a slightly brownish thumb!

Chenille Plant

The chenille plant will grow for any gardener who provides it with ample water and sunlight. Also known as red-hot cattail, Acalypha hispida may need supplementary lighting with a grow light to successfully overwinter.

Orchid

The orchid family (Orchidaceae) contains hundreds of genera and tens of thousands of species, so if you haven’t experienced success yet with these exotic plants, give it another try. One type that is particularly forgiving for beginning gardeners is the moth orchid, Phalaenopsis. Although orchids look great growing as a collection, due to their low bloom count, a more frugal strategy is to start with one moth orchid for a few months as a trial plant, and then grow your collection from there.

Jasmine

Jasmine adds two elements that benefit all gardens: fragrance and height. This twining vine is somewhat hardier than other tropical flowers, and will survive winters in USDA growing zone 7. Jasminum officinale vines produce flowers from late spring through early fall, and need to have an indoor dormant period throughout the winter months.

Jasmine is a slender but vigorous vine that gardeners can keep in bounds with frequent pruning. Provide it with full to partial sun and regular watering.

Ginger

Aromatic as they are beautiful, flowering ginger plants are an excellent alternative for gardeners who have little or no direct sun in their landscapes. However, as is the case with most tropicals, hot and humid conditions are required for thriving plants. Zingiber types include the red bracts of the Awapuhi, used in some premium shampoos. Zingiber Neglectum ‘Pagoda Jewel’ looks like an alien life form, but grows with ease in moist, well-draining soil. Bring your ginger plants indoors.

Protea

Looking like a cross between an artichoke and a thistle, protea flowers are a staple in tropical flower arrangements due to their very long-lasting cut blooms. The African natives sport blossoms that are fuzzy, leathery, and quite drought-tolerant. Protea plants are more frost tolerant than most tropical flowers, and can stay outdoors all year in zone 8. Plant proteas in a sandy potting mix, and water once or twice a week. A half day of sun is adequate to coax blooming in late winter through.

Bougainvillea

Anyone who has visited a Mediterranean country will conjure memories of their trip by cultivating this vigorous vine, which grows throughout sunny, dry climates. The vines demand a full day of sunshine, which means you shouldn’t plan on overwinter the plants in your home. However, the cheerful magenta or red bracts will appear quickly on new transplants you install in the spring. Bougainvillea blooming may taper off during summer, but will peak in the fall, as it thrives when day and night.

Anthurium

Anthurium, or flamingo flowers, are most happy when their environment is humid bordering on muggy. The flowers are bracts that come in red, pink, white, and dramatic burgundy hues. The shiny surface of the bracts lends a lacquered appearance, which stands out in dappled sunlight conditions. Provide flamingo flowers with rich, moist soil, and protect from temperatures below 40 degrees F.

Medinilla

Medinilla magnifica, also known as pink maiden, is a departure from many tropical flowers in that it prefers a shady site in the garden. If you have cared for an orchid, treat your medinilla the same way, as it grows as an epiphyte in the wild. Pot it up in orchid bark, water sparingly, and provide it with dappled sunlight and moderate temperatures. A daily misting will keep your medinilla going through the dry environs of a winter windowsill.

Penta

There’s nothing like a few pots of pink, purple, and red pentas to bring the butterflies and hummingbirds flocking to your deck or patio. Clusters of star-shaped flowers appear throughout the summer on 12-inch tall plants, and ask for nothing more than full sun, well-drained soil, and average water.

Canna

The widespread availability and rapid growth habit of cannas make them one of the most popular tropical plants in home gardens. If you’re plagued by soggy, boggy soil, make cannas a garden staple, as they will even grow in standing water. It’s almost impossible to give these hungry giants too much sunshine or nutrients. A weekly shovel of compost or manure can help taller varieties like ‘Phaison’ reach their potential.

Angel’s Trumpet

Everyone should grow a Brugmansia at least once in their lifetime. The sight of hundreds of bell-shaped fragrant flowers in late summer will bring a smile to your face every day. A variegated cultivar like ‘Snowbank’ will make plants interesting even out of bloom. Provide these shrubs with a large container, partial sun, and regular water. Prune hard in the fall when you bring it inside for the winter.

Know The Best Flowers for Hanging Baskets

Do you have a favorite garden flower that always seems to have its head in the dirt, especially after a heavy rain? This flower may be the perfect candidate for a hanging basket. Many flowers suitable for hanging baskets are pendulous, top heavy, or creeping, which makes them look lovely when displayed from a container at eye level or higher. Some hanging basket flowers even attract butterflies or hummingbirds, giving us a close-up view of wildlife antics on our porch or deck.

Begonia

For those who don’t have the right climate to grow fussy fuchsias, begonias can act as a plant double. The half-hardy Begonia boliviensis has the same tubular, pendulous flowers as fuchsias, but can handle the heat and humidity of Southern summers. Other tuberous begonias that look great in hanging baskets include the Nonstop Mocca series, which are fully double and resemble roses.

Black Eye Susan Vine

Not many vines flourish in a hanging basket, but thunbergia has the right combination of exuberance and restraint that makes it a showy container plant. The annual vines will scramble up the chains of the hanging basket as well as spill over the sides, sporting one-inch flowers in white and gold shades.

Fuchsia

Gardeners living in areas with cool, wet summers can’t pass up the opportunity to grow this amazing, shade-loving tender perennial. Although the plants do tend to wither in summer weather, you can look for one of the more heat tolerant varieties like ‘Astoria,’ ‘Jupiter,’ or ‘Surprise.’ A little fuss will prolong the beauty of fuchsias in hanging baskets: the plants respond well to daily misting, regular fertilizing, and diligent deadheading.

Lantana

In frost-free areas, common lantana can become somewhat of a thug, growing into a wild woody shrub that scrambles through fences and overtakes flowerbeds. However, the vibrant flower clusters of lantana provide reliable tropical color for a long growing season, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Choose a small weeping variety for your hanging baskets like the yellow and white ‘Patriot Popcorn’ or the yellow, pink, and orange ‘Patriot Rainbow.’ If lantana is overly vigorous in your area,…MORE

Lobelia

It’s best to think of lobelia erinus as a seasonal plant for early spring, as it thrives in moderate temperatures. Your hanging basket will be covered with a mass of electric blue flowers and contrasting white throats that appeal to butterflies. At the end of June, don’t waste any time trying to coddle the plants; replace them with million bells, lantana, or another heat-loving plant.

 

Million Bells

This cousin of the petunia won’t tucker out when the temperatures rise. Million bells produce little or no seed and don’t require deadheading to stay in bloom. All they need is moist soil and a full day of sun to keep your hanging baskets vibrant.

 

Pelargonium

You may know these by the more common name of geranium, but pelargoniums are annuals, while true geraniums are hardy perennials. The bold texture, bright colors, and trailing habit of pelargoniums make them ideal for hanging baskets. Deadheading is necessary to keep the plants blooming until frost.

 

Petunia

Petunias have always been a classic favorite for hanging baskets, but some gardeners have given up on them after struggling with plants bedraggled by disease and rainstorms. Try millifloras which bloom continuously without the need for pinching, or multifloras, which perform in hot, wet summers.

 

Portulaca

Place portulaca, or moss rose, in a site where it will receive sun for most of the day. When the plant sits in shade, its flowers will close up. Pair moss rose with other heat-loving, drought tolerant plants like wandering Jew, which will provide color between blooming cycles.

Sweet Alyssum

Sitting near a sweet alyssum hanging basket is like being in the presence of a fragrant cloud. These flowers have a strong honey scent that attracts butterflies and bees. The appealing trailing habit of sweet alyssum can turn shaggy as the season progresses, so don’t be afraid to reinvigorate it with a summer haircut.