The Q&A Archives: small space big plants 4 little patio in LA

Question: We have a small patio and i want it to have a very tropical feel (miss my big old garden), went to get some palms but found out they wouldn't survive the LA summer. what palms would survive direct sunlight or any perennials, big, easy to take care of plants. any and all suggestions which will give a 10by7ft space a great feel and hide the ugly building opposite as well.

Answer: There are a number of large leafed plants you can use to provide a lush, tropical effect in the space you describe. Consider:
Bird of Paradise; Tropical looking evergreen perennial valued for its unique bird-like orange, blue and white flower heads. Long-lasting cut flowers. Used as an accent, especially on patios or near pools. Good in containers. Full to partial sun. Slow-growing clumps to 3 to 5 feet tall, can be as wide or wider.

Imperial Taro (Colocasia antiquorum 'Illustris'); An outstanding selection of the tropical taro featuring dramatic dark leaves. Early shoots are bright green, darkening to bronze. In shade at maturity leaves are near black with contrasting lime green veins. An essential of the tropical garden but equally as coveted for spare modern compositions. Keep evenly moist and well fed for continuous leaf production. Herbaceous tropical bulb. Filtered sun. Fast growth 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenis roebelinii); A delicate looking but remarkably resilient miniature palm. Bears umbrella form with feather shaped fronds radiating out of the central stem. Often called the planter palm because it is so well suited to small spaces with raised beds and containers. Small enough to fit into any garden or foundation planting as a tropical focal point. Slow growth remains manageable. Grows during the hot months if provided plenty of moisture and nutrition. Produces flower heads in spring followed by bright red berry-like fruit. Evergreen. Full to partial sun. Moderate growth to 10 feet with age, 4 to 6 feet wide.

Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana); A terrific tropical element to use in pots on patios or planted in entryways to enjoy the pendant terminal spikes of showy, unusual coppery-bronze bracts that enclose tubular white flowers. Evergreen. Full to partial sun. Moderate grower to 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.

Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta); A very desirable evergreen plant displaying a stout trunk and long leaves with many narrow stiff leaflets. The leaves of this palm-like tree form an open rosette. Use for tropical accent and specimen. Full sun. Extremely slow growing to 8 feet tall, 3 to 6 foot spread having 3 to 6 foot long fronds with age.

Abyssinian Banana (Ensete ventricosum); Rising from the solitary pseudotrunk are large paddle-shaped 10- to 15-foot long bright green leaves having a bright red lower midrib. Protect from strong winds. Evergreen. Full sun. To 20 feet tall, 15-foot spread.

Yellow Mandevilla (Pentalinon luteum); A lush, tropical vine with neon yellow, trumpet-like flowers that is excellent in containers as well as on a trellis or arbor. A vine-like shrub when young, it can be maintained as a shrub or allowed to develop into a moderate-sized vine with stems to 8 feet long. Full sun. Evergreen.

Bengal Tiger Canna (Canna x generalis 'Bengal Tiger'); Deep green foliage features dramatic yellow stripes for strong visual interest all season long. Tall plants bloom in exotic looking brilliant orange flowers. A powerful tool for high contrast foliage effects. Provides exceptional tropical appeal for any garden. Superior specimen or mass at the back of the border. In cold climates lift tubers in fall. Herbaceous perennial. Full sun. Fast growth 4 to 6 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide.

Hope you find these suggestions useful!

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