One of my most commonly-asked questions is about great tropical garden plants to bring drama and colour to clients’ gardens. Though there’s a lot to be said for a classic English country garden planting scheme, I’m a big fan of using bold tropical plants in the garden too. Not all tropicals will thrive in the famously unreliable UK weather, but there are plenty of options available if you’d like your garden to take inspiration from the jungle. In this article, I’ll share with you some of my favourite choices.
All of these plants are totally gorgeous, and you might feel tempted to get every single one of them in your garden. However, it’s worth remembering that most tropical plants like specific growing conditions to reach their full potential. There’s no point fighting with the climate and conditions where you are, and your plants won’t thank you – so check your soil and what your chosen plants will like before planting them out.
Red hot poker (Kniphofia)
This stunning plant boasts a spray of bright orange and yellow blooms atop a long, sturdy stem. These are great value plants that will flower year after year, putting on an amazing show that’s impossible to miss. There are smaller varieties, but some may grow to over six feet – so make sure you check which type you’re buying if you’re short on space.
Hardy palms are a great addition to any garden if you’re after an instant holiday feel, with fronds swaying in the breeze. My favourite types of palms are Chamaerops humilis, or dwarf fan palm, and trachycarpus fortunei, with its sturdy, fuzzy stem. Palms are evergreen, and will look great all year round – even dusted with snow!
Otherwise known as plantain lily, hostas are a great low-growing addition to your tropical planting scheme. Their large, beautifully coloured leaves look fantastic against taller tropical plants in a bed, and there are smaller varieties that do well in containers too. Just make sure to protect your hostas, as slugs can’t resist that juicy foliage. Scatter crushed eggshells around the base, or wool pellets which will both repel slugs naturally.
Crocosmia are super easy to grow and wow – those flowers! These tall, elegant plants display bold swathes of orange, yellow or red flowers that look stunning against the green foliage. They’re happy enough with most growing conditions, just not very dry soil so make sure to keep them well watered.
Euphorbia is a large and varied genus of plants, but a special mention has to go to the shrub Euphorbia wulfenii. This is another wonderfully low-maintenance plant that in the right conditions can grow strong and tall. I love the psychedelic neon yellow blooms that appear in springtime topping upright, brushy stems.
I adore this plant, with its sturdy fanned stems of large, glossy lobed leaves. This is a really structural choice that will create impact all on its own, or add interest to a bed. Small container varieties are available, but when planted out fatsia japonica will grow to enormous size. Its delicate white flowers look beautiful in festive wreaths, too!
Watch a more detailed video of my favourite tropical plants over on my Youtube channel.
Read my recent article on pet-safe plants for your garden here.
Looking for some bold summer colour? In this article, I share my favourite colourful garden flowers.
Don’t forget, expert gardening advice bespoke to you and your garden is only a Zoom call away! With my 30-minute Zoom garden consultation, I’ll talk you through some ideas for achieving the garden of your dreams, with actionable tips and advice that’s specific to you. Book your Zoom consultation here.