How to Landscape Tropical Plants


You needn't live in a tropical climate to make your yard look tropical. Some plants that come from the tropics are surprisingly frost hardy. For example, the Mexican fan palm can withstand temperatures as low as 18 degrees F. Other plants, such as orchids, ti leaves, anthuriums, gingers and others serve well as potted plants around your patio or swimming pool--you can leave them outdoors during the spring, summer and into the fall and then move them under cover before frost threatens. You can also grow some tropicals, such as hibiscus, as annuals.

Step 1

Purchase several decorative pots with drainage holes and plant saucers to fit them. Keep in mind your existing landscaping and any color themes that you already have in your yard. Select plants such as areca or other palms, hibiscus, ti, ginger and bromeliads. Make sure your pots are the correct size for your plants.

Step 2

Fill your pots about half full of standard potting soil and then empty your plants out of their nursery pots. Set each plant into a pot in which it will look attractive and fill with more potting soil.

Step 3

Set each of your potted tropical plants on a plant saucer containing pebbles. If you keep water in the saucers, it will help to raise the humidity around your plants, which tropical species need.

Step 4

Plant larger, more frost-hardy plants such as palm trees in the soil around the borders of your deck or patio. The Mexican fan palm is a good choice in areas where the temperature rarely dips below 18 degrees. Dig compost into a planting hole about twice as large as the roots of your plant compost should total about one-fourth the volume of soil. Set your plant into the hole, refill it with the soil and compost you removed and then water well (about one gallon of water for every gallon bucket of soil you took out).

Step 5

Fertilize potted and in-ground tropical plants with a balanced fertilizer once a month, following package instructions for mixing and applying the specific product. For flowering tropical plants, use a "blossom booster" or low nitrogen plant food to encourage blooming.

Things You'll Need

  • Decorative pots
  • Potting soil
  • Plant saucers
  • Pebbles
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Fertilizer


  • Master Gardener: Tropical Landscapes
  • Tropical Flowers
  • Sun Palm Trees: Mexican Fan Palms

Who Can Help

  • Gardino Nursery: Rare and Unusual Plants/Fertilizer
Keywords: tropical gardening, landscaping design, palms bromeliads, potted plants

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.