If you live in a temperate climate, the gardening world is wide open for you as your climate will support a large number of beautiful, exotic plants. Living in a temperate climate means that while you enjoy four distinct seasons, you rarely suffer from hard freezes in winter or blazing hot days in summer.
With its distinctive tropical leaves, elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) is a must-have for an exotic garden. Although elephant ear prefers partial shade, it will grow in full sun with plenty of water. Elephant ear works well in temperate climates and can survive chilly winters as long as the temperatures don't drop below 20 degrees F.
Mandevilla (Mandevilla spp) is appreciated for the showy, long-lasting blooms and attractive foliage. Mandevilla can be trained to climb up a fence or trellis or in a hanging basket or patio container where the vines can drape freely. Mandevilla won't survive a hard winter but will grow back quickly when nipped by a light frost.
Coral bean, (Erythrina herbacea) is an interesting deciduous shrub that in temperate climates will grow to 16 feet tall at maturity. In cooler climates, the plant will be somewhat smaller as it may die back after a light freeze but will return in spring. Coral bean grows best in partial shade. Also called Cherokee bean, the coral bean plant produces bright scarlet blossoms that are particularly attractive to hummingbirds.
Canna lilies (Canna x generalis) are big, splashy summer bloomers available not only in bright solid colors but also bicolor, spotted and striped varieties. Cannas thrive in summer sunlight and plenty of moisture. Despite of their exotic appearance, cannas are tough plants that don't mind a light frost. The bulbs can be left in the ground all winter in temperate climates.
Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), native to Mexico, will bloom almost continuously in temperate climates. In the event of an unexpected freeze, the plant may be killed to the ground but will recover quickly when spring arrives. The plant's narrow, branching stems support the rosy, pinkish red blooms that look like large shrimp. Shrimp plant thrives in either partial shade or full sunlight, and needs plenty of moisture during warm days.