Tropical plants are some of the most awe-striking plants in the world, often boasting brilliantly colored flowers, lush foliage and imposing size. Tropical plants grow in limited tropical regions throughout the world, but thanks to their beauty, they are often cultivated as houseplants and yard plants in homes and gardens.
A member of the loosestrife family, cigar plant (Cuphea ignea), also called firecracker plant, is a flowering plant native to Mexico that sports long tubular orange or red flowers. Reaching an average height and spread of about 3 feet, cigar plant is also notable for its deep green long leaves. Ideal for a container plant on the patio or for a lush garden plant, cigar plant is best suited to USDA zones 10 to 12, although it may be grown as a frost tender annual elsewhere. The plant prefers full sunlight and well-drained, moist soil, though it is moderately drought tolerant once established. Pinching back the cigar plant's dead flowers will help to prolong the bloom period.
Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is a classic looking hibiscus species that produces large silky red flowers with protruding stamens. A native of China, tropical hibiscus is often cultivated as a houseplant or as a garden specimen shrub. Tropical hibiscus is best suited to USDA zones 9B to 11A. The plant is tolerant of a range of conditions, from full sun to partial sun, and in soil types ranging from alkaline to acidic or neutral. The summer flowering plant is moderately drought tolerant and should not need much supplemental watering once established. The blooms of this plant are excellent for wildlife gardens, as they will attract legions of buzzing hummingbirds.
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a summer flowering member of the morning glory family that produces broad, pure white flowers accented by long deep green leaves. The plant can be grown in a container on a balcony, or left to ramble endlessly over structures in the garden. Moonflower is a fast-growing native of the tropical Americas, and does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 9 to 11, although it may be grown as an annual in cooler climates. The fragrant plant prefers a somewhat rich, well-drained soil, preferably enhanced with organic compost. Frequent watering will keep the moonflower vine looking fresh and lovely, but take care not to get the soil too soggy.