Tropical Plants That Can Be Grown in Zone 8

Zone 8 runs from the rain forests along the coast of Washington State to the coast of North Carolina. The winters are on the warm side with the low temperatures reaching just 10 to 20 degrees F. Summers in the East will be hot and humid, the Northwest will be mild and in the Southwest will be hot and dry.

Butia Capitata

Butia capitata, also known as the jelly palm or pindo palm, is easy to grow, and can be grown in containers. The plant has a thick trunk that supports pinnate leaves--leaves with a long central stem and small fern-like leaflets that grow opposite each other along the stem. The leaves arch upward and then turn back to the ground. The trunk can grow to from 12 to 20 feet in height and have a diameter of 1 to 1½ feet. The leaves can be light green or blue/gray and are from 5 to10 feet long. The tree produces an orange-colored fruit that tastes like an apple and is used to make jelly . It can be grown in full sun or moderate shade and prefers sandy, well-drained soil, but can take other types. Butia capitata is also very drought tolerant.

Feijoa

Feijoa, also known as pineapple guava, is a bushy shrub that can grow to from 3 to 20 feet in height. The trunk has a pale gray bark, the leaves are short, thick and leathery growing to about 2½ inches long and 1 1/8 inches wide. The top side of the leaves is smooth and glossy and the underside is silver with hairs and fine veins. The flowers are about 1½ inches wide and can grow singly or in clusters and are white on the outside with a purple/red on the inside. The edible fruit can be oblong, oval or pear shaped and measures from 1 to 2½ inches long and up to 2 inches wide. Before it is ripe, it is covered with fine white hairs, then it turns green or yellow green. Feijoa needs an environment with low humidity and annual rainfall in the range of 30 to 40 inches and can take temperatures as low as 12 to 15 degrees F. The plant prefers rich well-drained organic soil, but has been known to do well in poorer soil. It is drought resistant, but will not produce fruit if it does not get adequate water.

Arbutus Unedo

Arbutus unedo, also known as a strawberry tree or cane apple tree. is a broad-leaf evergreen that can be a shrub or small tree. It can get as tall as 30 feet and the same in width, but most of the varieties will not get over 8 to 12 feet. The leaves have a leathery feel, can be oblong or oval, have toothed margins and measure between 2 and 4 inches in length. As the plant gets older, the trunk and branches will become gnarled and twisted. Arbutus unedo produces small white or pink flowers that grow as drooping branches of 2 to 5 inches in length. The fruit is red, sphere-shaped and about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. It takes a year for the fruit to ripen, so fruit from one year will be on the tree at the same time as the flowers from the next. The plant likes full sun to partial shade and is drought resistant once it is firmly established.

Keywords: strawberry tree, pineapple guava, jelly palm

About this Author

Regina Sass is based in the Adirondack Region of New York State. She has been a writer for 10 years writing for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Online experience includes writing,advertising and editing for an educational web site. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.