Answer: Many tropical plants will grow just fine in NJ during the summer, so some gardeners plant them in containers and move them indoors each winter (or simply plant them and replace them each year). This would include such favorites as abutilon, hibiscus, lantana and bougainvillea. There are many bulbs and rhizomes in addition to the cannas: calla, caladium, agapanthus, elephant ears, tall dahlias, and the fragrant tuberose are all wonderful plants. Additional effects can be created with annuals such castor bean, moonflower and other exotic vines, brightly leafed-plants such as hypoestes, coleus, the new "African Queen" and "Seashells" impatiens. Some of the large hostas and ferns look quite tropical and should do well in your area along with the hardy ornamental grasses. To be honest I do not have a mental picture of a "tropical" shrub, but you might find that the variegated forms of some of the more common shrubs will fit into your scheme. Good luck with your project!
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