Trees add height and majesty to a garden, as well as interesting foliage and occasionally, flowers. For many people, tropical trees conjure up images of rest and relaxation. There are a number of common tropical trees that can be well utilized in the home garden to create a lush tropical scene.
Canary Island Date Palm
Commonly seen as an urban street tree in warm climates, the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is a tropical tree that also shows up frequently as a specimen garden tree and as a house plant. The tree boasts large yellow green palm fronds and a stout trunk.
The Canary Island date palm has little tolerance for frost and should be grown in full sunlight in USDA zones 9A to 11A. Though not choosy about soil pH, the canary island date palm is not as drought tolerant as some palm species and should be watered on a regular basis. The plant has a high saline tolerance and will do well near the coast.
A member of the bean family, royal poinciana (Delonix regia), also called flame tree, is a flowering tree native to Madagascar. The tree is commonly cultivated in subtropical and tropical climates for its intense show of red flowers, which appear in the spring and summer. The plant also boasts a wide, shade giving canopy of rich green, fern-like leaves.
Royal poinciana will not tolerate frosts and should be grown only in USDA zones 10 to 12. The plant isn't picky about soils and will grow just about anywhere, even on the coast (though it can't be planted directly on the beach). Royal poinciana does best in full sunlight with frequent watering.
Though the origins of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) are unknown, the coconut palm remains one of the most famous and easy to identify species of tropical trees. The tree boasts a smooth gray trunk accented by lush pinnate leaves. The plant is known for its coconut fruits, the meat of which is often dried and shaved for baking and cooking.
The tropical tree is sensitive to frost and will only really thrive in USDA zones 10 and 11. Cultivate the coconut palm in full sunlight, in a loose, well-draining soil. Tolerant of salt and drought, the coconut palm will grow right on the beach with little extra attention required.