The Q&A Archives: Tropical Garden near swimming pool

Question: I live in Tulsa, Ok and we have a small yard with a pool in it. We are extending some of our pool decking with a flag stone patio and wanting to make it have a tropical feel. I love hostas but also want to add a bunch of color but not over run it. Any ideas?

Answer: Many tropical plants will grow just fine in in Oklahoma during the summer, but not all are winter hardy, so many 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 to include in your tropical paradise: 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. Other, more hardy additions might include Louisiana Palmetto, Sago palm, bamboo, Japanese Fiber Banana Musa 'basjoo', Japanese Parasol Tree Firminia simplex, Purple Heart Vine (Setcresea), Giant Reed/Cane (Arundo donax), and a number of perennials such as ginger. If there are plants you like that ar not frost hardy, simply plant them in containers and move them to a frost-free place during the winter months. Good luck with your project!

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