Create a tropical paradise on your patio by adding containers of exotic tropical flowering plants. They will happily grow outdoors during summer but must be brought indoors when temperatures drop into the lower 50s. Unlike most perennials for temperate zones, many flowering tropical plants flower continuously during the growing season, with some flowering year-round.
White Butterfly Ginger
Also called ginger lily, Hedychium coronarium is an herbaceous perennial that grows 4 to 5 feet tall. Its growth habit is upright, and it can be pruned to control its width. Flowers are borne on stems up to 5 feet high. White flowers originate from a single bud per stem. Each bud can produce several hundred flowers over a six-week period, with each flower lasting about a day. Ginger lily is ideal for a patio because its flowers are highly fragrant. Since the flowers do not last after they are cut from the plants, growing them is the only way to enjoy their intoxicating tropical fragrance.
A shrub with lovely pale blue blossoms that attract butterflies, skyflower (Duranta repens) is suitable for growing in containers on the patio. It can be featured in a regular pot as a specimen or several can be planted in a trough to form a living privacy screen. The flowers give way to golden-orange berries that attract birds. This shrub is unusual in that flowers and berries can be on the plant at the same time. Planted in the ground, it grows to a height of 8 to 15 feet, but it will grow somewhat shorter in a container and can be shaped by pruning in late winter.
True to its name, the peacock flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima var) produces showy bicolor orange and red petaled blossoms with prominent red stamens that are about three times as long as the diameter of the flower. It is grown as a perennial as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 8, where it dies down to its roots in winter. Grown as a potted plant, it will easily overwinter indoors. Position your peacock flower in full sun or light shade. It will grow poorly and become leggy in shade and produce fewer flowers.