Popular because of their showy foliage, flowers or just plain exotic look, tropical ornamentals have made their way out of the tropics and into the garden. Ornamentals can be shrubs, trees or specimen plants that add to or emphasize your landscaping.
Bird of Paradise
The Bird of Paradise, Streletzia Reginae, makes for a unique tropical ornamental plant. According to Aggie Horticulture, this small plant has leaves resembling a banana tree and very showy, peculiar bird-shaped flowers that bloom from late summer to early winter in combinations of red, blue and yellow. While it's a fairly adaptable plant, the Bird of Paradise is tender to cold temperatures. In addition to making a landscaping statement, this clumping plant grows well in containers.
An upright plant, Dracaena species produce spiky foliage on the ends of branches and canes. Depending on the type of Dracaena, the foliage varies between red, green, white and purple. Dracaena Marinate, in particular combines pink, green and white for its eye-catching foliage. In addition to its colorful leaves, Dracaena also forms clusters of greenish-white flowers that bloom on branch ends. Able to grow up to 10 feet, Dracaena, makes an easy-to-grow ornamental plant for your garden.
With their unique shape and brightly colored bracts, gingers make excellent tropical ornamentals. Florists around the world often use the most common ginger, Red ginger (Alpinia Purpurata) as cut flowers for arrangements. This erect plant can grow up to 9 feet tall and flowers for about 3 weeks. Other types of ginger that make good container or garden plants include the families of Costus, Globba or Etlingera Elatior (torch ginger).
Evergreen magnolia species, especially the Magnolia Grandiflora, make beautiful flower tree ornamental plants. Magnolia Grandiflora grows to 15 feet high and flowers large, extremely fragrant white to cream blossoms. These beautiful flowers bloom April to June. You can find this tree growing as a popular ornamental in the South and West United States. Another Magnolia species, Magnolia Coco, (M. Pumila), comes from Southeast Asia and has dark green leaves with small, white cup-shaped flowers.
Ornamental pineapple, Ananas bracteatus, makes a unique ornamental plant for use indoors or outdoors as a landscaping specimen. An easy-to-grow plant, ornamental pineapple produces green leaves decorated with white and pink stripes and flowers that work well as cutting flowers. It grows best in partial shade to full sun. However, ornamental pineapple can not be consumed.