The tropical rain forest is an extreme environment characterized by high temperatures, high humidity and nutrient poor soils. Tropical rain forests are widely considered to be the home to some of the most beautiful and fascinating plants in the plant kingdom. Though many rain forest flowers are too difficult or too rare to be cultivated in the home garden, others can be grown with relative ease.
A native of tropical Brazil and Argentina, blue passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) is a flowering vine notable for its showy and unusual blue and white flowers, which are also delicately fragrant. The plant may reach up to 30 feet in length if left to its own devices. Blue passionflower is host to several different species of butterflies, some of which may become pests if the caterpillars feed on the plant with too much zest. Blue passionflower is ideal as a greenhouse plant or as an evergreen vine in tropical climates. The plant will thrive outdoors in full sunlight in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 8 to 11. The vine does best in an extremely well drained soil--rocky or disturbed soils are ideal. Blue passionflower is quite drought tolerant and requires no supplemental watering, although misting may be used to increase humidity.
Giant Amazon Water Lily
A native of the Brazilian Amazon, the giant Amazon water lily (Victoria Amazonica) is a stunning specimen that boasts huge, green pads that may reach up to 8 feet in length. The pads have textured, deep-red undersides that are used to catch low levels of light. The underside of the plant is also lined with sharp spikes, which protect the lily from nibbling fish and other animals.The giant amazon water lily blooms in late summer, producing large flowers that are white the first day and a rich-pink the second day. Up to 1 foot in length, the flowers are pollinated by beetles. The giant Amazon water lily is naturally a rare sight in gardens, but several botanical societies have this plant for the public to view.
The jacaranda (Jacaranda acutifolia) is a deciduous flowering tree native to the Amazon river basin area. The tree, which may reach up to 50 feet, flushes with hundreds of brilliantly colored, purple or blue flowers in mid spring and early summer. Jacaranda is also notable for its bright-green leaves, which have a fern-like appearance. Jacaranda is relatively easy to grow and does best in a well-drained, sandy soil, in USDA zones 9 to 11. Full sunlight is preferred for this plant, as too much shade will lessen the extraordinary flowers of the tree. Water the jacaranda frequently, but not enough to make the soil soggy or waterlogged.
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