Texas has a wide range of USDA Hardiness Zones and tropical plants cannot tolerate frost. Gardeners in the warmer zones plant tropical plants that are hardy in their zones outdoors. Gardeners in the colder zones pick tropical plants to grow in containers and bring them in when there is a danger of frost.
Nun orchid (Phaius tankervilliae), also known as swamp orchid and nun's hood orchid, is native to Australia and the tropical areas of Asia--central China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. The plant produces lance-shaped leaves that grow up to 3 feet long and 3 inches wide and flower stems from 3 to 4 feet tall with fragrant, reddish-brown flowers that measure 3 inches across. Plant nun orchid in light shade or filtered sunlight and a rich, moist and well-drained soil. The plant is hardy in USDA Zone 9 in Texas.
Variegated Shell Ginger
Variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is also known as pink porcelain lily and is native to India. The plant grows to about 6 feet tall producing green and yellow-striped leaves that grow to 2 feet long and 6 inches wide. It features white-pink flowers that resemble sea shells. Variegated shell ginger grows in light shade to full sun and a soil that is rich, fertilized, moist and well drained. The plant is not frost tolerant and is hardy in USDA Zones 8 and 9 in Texas.
Red Bauhinia (Bauhinia punctata) is an evergreen shrub with 1-1/2 inch wide, red, orchid-like flowers growing in clusters during the spring and summer. The flowers give way to 5-inch-long seed pods in the late summer. The leaves are oblong and grow from 2 to 4 inches. The vine can be grown in USDA Zone 9 B in Texas. Plant Red Bauhinia in full sun and a sandy loam soil that is moist and well drained to dry.
Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is also known as Chusan palm and Chinese windmill palm. The tree grows from 20 to 40 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 8 to 10 inches and a crown spread from 8 to 10 feet wide. Its circular leaves, which are dark green on top and silver on the under-side, grow 3 feet in diameter on stems 3 feet long. The plant will be either male or female with bright-yellow flowers growing in long clusters and appearing in late winter and early fall. The female flowers are followed by round or oblong 1/2-inch long blue fruits. The plant is native to southeastern China, Taiwan and the Chusan Islands. Plant windmill palm in partial shade and a moist to dry soil. The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 7B to 9 in Texas.