Tropical plants are beautiful and full of vibrant colors. Plants that grow in the tropics usually grow rapidly and spread out to create lush landscaping. In most tropical areas there are two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. Tropical gardeners normally cut back plants during the first part of the wet season (which is late spring to early summer) because this is when plants grow. This way, new growth is nurtured by gentle summer rains.
The double coconut or fan palm comes from Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa. It’s a tender slow-growing fan palm whose seed is the largest in the plant kingdom. It gets its name because it looks like two coconuts merged. Because of the seed’s large size, it takes about a year for germination to occur and another year for a first leaf to form. This palm can reach heights as tall as 100 feet with leaf blades that are 20 feet long and 12 feet wide, according to the Missouri Botanical website.
The American mangrove, also called red mangrove, are widely found throughout tropical regions such as southern Florida. Typically, they grow in saltwater areas such as marshes and tidal shores. Their numerous arching aerial roots create dense tangles that stabilize surrounding soil. The plant's roots also absorb water and minerals, besides support the tree. The mangrove’s bark is an essential source of tannin, which is used in medicine and tanning, in addition to manufacturing inks and dyes.
Giant Bird of Paradise
The giant bird of paradise, known also as Sterlizia nicolai, is considered one of the most beautiful tropical plants in the world. A flowering plant, it has green banana-shaped leaves from which grow blue and white spiked flowers. At the bottom of the flower there’s a gray-blue bracket arising from it, resembling a bird that’s hiding inside large green leaves.
The peacock plant, from the Maranta family, has broad oval leaves that help it capture limited light. It has a reddish-purple tint on the undersides of its leaves that is also adapted for capturing greenish light on forest grounds. This plant, which originates from the tropics of South America, has striking markings, such as the white strip running down the center of its leaves. Occurring naturally, these markings are not a result of cultivation. Interestingly, the leaves fold up at night.
The Indian hawthorne, originating from the tropics of China, is a tropical evergreen shrub with shiny dark green leaves. It’s deeply toothed and is lance-shaped, producing white flowers with pink centers. It can’t tolerate cold, drying winds, preferring well-drained moist soil in full sun. This tropical plant is prone to leaf spots, scale insects and fire-blight.
The Panama-hat plant, coming from the Cyclanthus family, is palm-like but isn’t a palm. It derives its name from the hats that were shipped to Ecuador via the Panama during the days of the California Gold Rush. An excellent fiber source, the Panama-hat plant is usually cultivated as an ornamental in tropical gardens.