Tropical climates produce some of the most fantastic plants in the world. These plants, which have adapted to the high heat and humidity of the tropics, often exhibit lush, vibrant foliage and large, flashy blooms that showcase a wide range of patterns and colors. Gardening with tropical plants is an enjoyable hobby that can result in a visually appealing garden.
Peacock ginger (Kaempferia laotica) is a sprawling perennial that grows only a few inches above the ground. A native of tropical Southeast Asia, peacock ginger is notable for its oval-shaped leaves, which have a dark purple and green patterning reminiscent of a peacock's feather. The low-growing plant makes an excellent ground cover, and can be used to provide texture and color in a bare, unsightly area. Peacock ginger does best in USDA zones 8 to 11 in dappled or full shade. The plant prefers an organic, rich and well-draining soil that is kept consistently damp to the touch.
Weeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a vigorous tropical evergreen that has a cascading, "weeping" habit. Reaching a height of 2 to 3 feet, the plant sports dense green foliage accented by autumn blooming clusters of lilac or purple flowers. Weeping lantana is excellent for attracting birds and butterflies to the garden, and does well as a naturalizing shrub or a container plant. Weeping lantana can be cultivated in USDA zones 8B to 11B, preferably in full, all-day sunlight. The plant is tolerant of a range of soil pH, though it does require a well-draining soil. The plant should be watered as needed: more in the summer, less in the winter. Water frequently until plant is firmly established.
A native of tropical Brazil and Argentina, blue passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) is a flowering vine notable for its white and purple blossoms, which may reach up to 4 inches across. The sprawling vine can reach distances of up to 30 feet. Blue passionflower can be grown over trees, entryways and mailboxes. The plant does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 11. It requires a loose, rocky or sandy soil, and will even tolerate poor, infertile or disturbed soils. Blue passionflower is drought tolerant and requires no supplemental watering. The summer-blooming flower is extremely popular with butterflies, and will attract them in legions to your garden. Avoid over-pruning this plant, as this will decrease the number of flowers it produces.
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