Exotic flowers are those that stand out from common flower species for a variety of reasons—their unusual blooms, their strange scent or because they are simply difficult to find in the wild or in nurseries. Gardening with exotic flowers is an exciting hobby and a sure-fire conversation starter.
The gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba) is a perennial lily species native to tropical regions of Africa. The plant is unusual in appearance, offering large, crinkled flowers that showcase a gradation of yellow and crimson. The gloriosa lily is a vine and should be grown next to a trellis, shrub or tree that it can climb. The exotic flower may be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, and possibly in zone 8 if mulched properly. The vine prefers a rich, well-drained, rocky or rough soil that is kept consistently damp to the touch. Gloriosa lily will flourish in both partial and full sunlight. Container plants should not be given water in the winter, as this may harm the plant's roots.
Also called Barbados pride, peacock flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is a loose, sprawling shrub notable for its exotic, orchid-like flowers. The shrub produces showy blooms that are a rich shade of yellow and crimson, punctuated by needle-thin red stamens. A native of the West Indies and the tropical Americas, peacock flower is a warm-weather plant that should be grown in full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 11. The drought-tolerant flower requires no supplemental watering and will grow in almost any soil pH so long as the soil drains well. The plant has a good saline tolerance and can be used in coastal gardens as an attractive flowering ornamental.
Voodoo lily (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), also called snake lily, is an exotic flowering perennial that produces large, deep purple or blackish flowers that are accented by a shiny dark spadix. The waxy flowers of the plant have a pungent stench, earning the plant the additional nickname of "corpse flower." The smell is used to attract flies, which pollinate the plant. Voodoo lily also offers lush green foliage. For optimal results, plant the voodoo lily in USDA zones 9 to 11, in shade or dappled sunlight. Water as needed, taking care not to water too much during the cooler months. Voodoo lily isn't well suited to salty conditions and does better in inland gardens.