Answer: Oh those tropicals are so appealing! Unfortunately, you are probably located in hardiness zone 6, and Southern California is a wonderfully warm zone 9. That translates to winters being too cold for survival outdoors. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the tropical feel. Many homes with a bright sunny spot are able to 'winter over' the tender plants inside during the colder months so that they can be set out in warm weather in pots on patios. Some tropicals are easy to flower, such as the hibiscus which can bloom off and on during it's indoor time, and others, such as the Bird of Paradise are a bit fussier to be brought into bloom. But it can be done! Who knows? If you get 'hooked,' you may end up with a tropical greenhouse attached!
Tropicals can be purchased from many different sources, one popular one being Stokes Tropicals at http://www.stokestropicals.com/ Use your web browser to locate others. Indoor tropical gardening is a great way to spend the winter in cold climates! Have fun.
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