Tropical Plants for a Pool

Small planting areas on the edges of swimming pools allow plant lovers to incorporate tropical plants to complement the warm water and vacation-like atmosphere. As long as splashes of chlorinated water do not bombard the plant leaves and soil, plants can remain lush and healthy. Choose plants with large leaves or flowers so their dropped litter is easy to remove from the pool's surface. Avoid plants with thorns to avoid injuries.


Colorful crotons (Codiaeum spp.) come in a variety of leaf colors to add drama around a pool. As long as there is no winter frost, these tropical plants will retain their foliage year-round; consider them annual plants if your winters are cold. Choose large-leaved varieties like Petra or Mrs. Iceton, which are more colorful and easier to sweep up or remove from the water. Croton leaves also are waxy and shun any splashed water well.


Also called Hawaiian ti--pronounced "tee"--ti (Cordyline fruticosa) grows with an upright stem that is topped by a whirling cluster of long leaves. Depending on the variety of ti, the leaves are colored in blends of dark green, pink, red or white. If not killed by frosts in winter, ti plants will grow tall and narrow in form, but you can cut the stems and allow the leaves and growing tips to rejuvenate and develop into a smaller shrub-like plant again.

Lollipop Plant

Bright yellow bracts that carry small tubular white flowers make the lollipop plant (Pachystachys lutea) a colorful blooming plant for a poolside container or planting bed. Also called yellow shrimp plant, it bears dark green leaves across its large, mounding shape. The yellow bracts are persistent, adding to the colorful "flowering" season. Try to place this plant away from the immediate pool edge to prevent any chlorinated water splash and to avoid any chlorine gas levels from the water potentially yellowing the leaves. Alkaline soils cause leaf yellowing, too, so avoid concrete planters, which often develop alkaline conditions (pH 7.2 or higher).

Blueberry Flax

Looking like a wide-leaf grass, blueberry flax (Dianella tasmanica) develops into large clumps of soft foliage, and the selection Variegata is particularly pretty with the green and creamy-white striped leaves. The tiny pale blue flowers occur in late spring or early summer on upright, wiry stems. Usually they are not pollinated so the small rounded blue "blueberry" fruits aren't displayed.

Lavender Scallops

An easy to grow and propagate tropical succulent ground cover is lavender scallops (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi Variegata). Growing quickly and full of leaves of blue-green, edged in white, the leaves blush lavender and rose in the winter. Although a succulent, it needs a moist soil in summer to look its best.

Keywords: poolside plantings, swimming pool plants, plants around pools

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.