Answer: There are lots of tropicals suitable for your zone 9 garden, including:
CREAM DELIGHT NEW ZEALAND FLAX (Phormium cookianum 'Cream Delight') A dramatic foliage plant featuring striking colored leaves. Each strap leaf has green margins edged with red flanking a creamy yellow midstripe. Blooms in summer. Adds dramatic year around color. Use as an accent, mass planting or container plant. Exceptional in modern or tropical garden styles. Evergreen perennial. Full to partial sun. Fast growth 2 to 3 feet tall, 4 to 6 feet wide.
TROPICANNA? BLACK CANNA (Canna indica 'Lon01') Striking deep chocolate-colored tropical leaves are complimented by contrasting bright red flowers throughout summer that soon change to orange. This dramatic specimen provides bold color and lushness to the garden plantings or containers. Filtered sun for best foliage color. Foliage 5 to 6 ft. high at maturity; flowers 12 in. above the foliage. Herbaceous. There are several other canna colors available.
FLAMENCO RED HOT POKER (Kniphofia uvaria 'Flamenco') An award winning variety of fiery red, vivid orange and soft-yellow flower spikes. Flowers on long straight 3-foot stalks occur on young plants 4 weeks earlier than normal. Blossoms are composed of long tubes that draw swarms of hummingbirds. Tufts of strap leaves form broad clumps. Tap root ensures excellent drought resistance but demands good drainage. Ideal for xeriscape gardens and tropical look or as cut flower. Herbaceous perennial. Full sun. Fast growth, foliage to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
KAFFIR LILY (Clivia miniata `French Hybrid`) Showy perennial displays large, deep green, strap-like leaves and intense orange flower heads on tall stems. An absolutely gorgeous accent, border plant or container specimen. Evergreen. Prefers dry partial to full shade. Moderate-growing to 1? to 2? feet tall and wide.
GRECIAN PATTERN PLANT (Acanthus mollis `Oak Leaf`) Intriguing tropical effect from large, oak-leaf-shaped foliage. Grow for attractive foliage and enjoy spikes of whitish-lilac flowers. Spreads rapidly. This herbaceous perennial is useful in borders or as background planting. Partial sun to full shade. Fast grower to 4 feet tall and wide, spreading rapidly.
FESTIVAL GRASS? CORDYLINE (Cordyline x 'Jurred') Glossy, exceptionally dark red-burgundy leaves offers both textural and color contrast opportunities. An excellent alternative to grasses that offers tropical drama and bold modernistic accent. Branched stems with tiny white flowers appear above the foliage. A chameleon suited to a wide range of styles and applications. Herbaceous perennial. Full sun. Fast growth to 3 feet tall and wide.
HARDY FIBER BANANA (Musa basjoo) A cold hardy clumping banana from Japan makes an excellent tropical appearing accent in cool climate gardens. Leaves may reach 2 feet wide by 6 feet long for startling effects. Not particular about soil type but is a heavy feeder that depends on frequent doses of ammonium sulfate nitrogen and should be mulched in winter for best results. Flowers only when mature. Herbaceous subtropical that prefers even moisture all season. Full sun or part shade. Fast growth to tree-like proportions of 15 feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to one foot.
PYGMY DATE PALM (Phoenis roebelinii)
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