Tropical plants have a reputation as being some of the loveliest in the world, typically exhibiting lush foliage and supernaturally colorful, showy flowers. Though some tropical plants are best left to their own devices in the wild, there are many tropical plants that can be cultivated in the home garden with a little care.
Canary Island Date Palm
The Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is a palm tree species that is commonly seen as a street tree in urban landscapes or as a specimen plant in home gardens. The palm is also cultivated as an interior houseplant, although indoors it will grow much smaller than its typical outdoor height of about 30 to 40 feet. The tree boasts thick green palm fronds and clusters of tiny white flowers which give way to small, date-like fruits. The tree can be cultivated in full sunlight in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones 9A to 11A. As with most other palm species, the Canary Island date palm requires a well-drained, sandy soil. The tree has a good salt tolerance, making it ideal for coastal gardens. The tree should be watered on a regular basis for best results.
Pest-free and easy-to-grow, princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana) is a flowering shrub often cultivated as a specimen plant in warm weather gardens. The tropical shrub is originally native to Brazil and will grow in USDA Zones 8 to 12, reaching a maximum height of between 10 to 12 feet. Princess flower boasts long green leaves accented by silky purple flowers. The plant can tolerate short periods of drought and will recover from frosts--though putting the plant through either situation isn't recommended. Princess flower is best suited to a rich, fertile soil that is watered on a regular basis. The attractive flowers of the plant can be clipped and brought indoors for a bit of color in a bouquet.
A member of the dogbane family, mandevilla (Mandevilla spp.) is a tropical vine native to Southeastern Brazil that boasts thick green leaves and huge trumpet-shaped flowers, which are a rich shade of pink. The summer-blooming plant can reach up to 10 feet in length and is ideal for those looking for a plant to climb up a trellis, lamppost or mailbox. Mandevilla is a frost-tender plant and will only really thrive in USDA Zones 9 to 11. The vine will do best in a well-drained soil that is watered on a regular basis (though the plant will tolerate some drought). Applying liquid fertilizer throughout the summer is an easy way to keep the vine producing showy, colorful flowers.