The Q&A Archives: Tropical Plants in Zone 5

Question: I live in Zone 5, Cleveland, Ohio, I lived in the South, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. I would like to grow tropical plants. What tropical plants can I grow in Zone 5?

Answer: Unfortunately, tropical plants are not expected to tolerate winter outdoors in zone 5. You might experiment and try growing the hardiest banana -- Musa basjoo -- and see if it will survive for you, however it will die back to the ground each winter and will never fruit. Tropicals such as tropical hibiscus, lantana, bougainvillea, and mandevilla can be grown as container plants on the patio and brought indoors each winter. And, common houseplants such as Monstera philodendron, palms, fig trees, and sanseveria cna be grown in dappled shade and brought indoors as houseplants each winter. For a tropical look you can also grow so-called summer bulbs such as canna, taro, and caladium. These will need to be replaced each year or can be dug and stored each fall for replanting the following spring. You can also experiment with hardy ornamental grasses and larger leafed annuals such as corn, bush zucchini, okra, morning glory and other annual vines to try to provide a tropical feel. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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