Tropicals forum: Favorite tropicals for that tropical feel?

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So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 28, 2014 11:14 AM CST
I am redoing our backyard and was wondering what you all felt were the "must have" tropicals? I have started with a section of the yard that is now basically stripped except for mature palms (different types, different sizes), a Eucalyptus tree that is at least 30-40 years old (trimmed and thinned annually so it is well-behaved) and an ancient tropical hibiscus. I was hoping to get some ideas of plants to add to get that "tropical feel". This area wraps around a pool and patio area so deep-rooted trees are out (the Eucalyptus is set far enough behind that it has not been an issue). I have various gingers, cannas, and elephant ears available but was hoping for more suggestions? This area is large enough that it gets both full sun and dappled sun (no deep shade in this section) and I am in zone 10. Any and all suggestions would be most appreciated nodding Oh- and I have some bananas arriving either today or tomorrow. Thank you!
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
May 28, 2014 3:23 PM CST
Bird of Paradise is good. A Banana or two (or even just the ornamental kind) which with their big leaves gives a tropical feel, although I amnot sure how they react to your low humidity. Oh - just saw you have bananas arriving Thumbs up . Then I would say (but then I would say that Hilarious! ) a Plumeria or two.......
Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
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TennesseeDave
May 28, 2014 4:33 PM CST
Gotta to have some Elephant ears and cannas. Smiling
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 28, 2014 4:43 PM CST
Oooh - I like those suggestions but I am bummed about plumeria. Although they definitely make the list of favorite plants and I have tried to grow many over the years, they never really grow for me. Rather, they all have remained sad, stick-like figures for years - sometimes with a branch or 2 - with a small tuft of leaves Sad and, when I was lucky, 3 or 4 flowers per year. The plumeria didn't even grow taller - they just remained frozen in time. When I was in Maui years ago, I saw what they are suppose to look like and, well, I have come to the conclusion that they either don't like me or they don't like our climate. But I sure do admire thosefolks that can grow them!

Bananas actually seem to do okay here. I tried planting a dwarf banana tree as a test plant many years ago and it is still with us. My son had a dog at the time (Sebs, the dog, passed away a few years back) that dug up the banana every single day - without fail. He never bothered any other plant in the yard except for that one banana. We finally had to block the tree off and, once it was allowed to be in the ground for more than a few hours, it did well. That surprised me as, by that time, it looked really, really sad - a limp rag with very little root. We have managed to get a few bunches of bananas over the years - I am sure not as many as other people get as our climate is very hot and we get strong winds off the desert annually - but the tree is quite robust so I am happy.

Thank you so much for the suggestions - I will definitely look in to adding a Bird of Paradise. Thumbs up
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 28, 2014 4:45 PM CST
TennesseeDave said:Gotta to have some Elephant ears and cannas. Smiling


I have set aside both green and black Elephant Ears and several different Cannas Thumbs up
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
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TennesseeDave
May 28, 2014 6:18 PM CST
Old Gardener take a look at this relatively new Canna developed by Brians Botanicals. Maui Punch. This is the first flower opening on this baby plant. Makes me think of Mai Tai and sunshine.



So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 28, 2014 6:30 PM CST
That is absolutely stunning! I am also surprised to see such a young plant in bloom. Maui Punch will definitely go on the list - thanks for sharing!
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 28, 2014 7:33 PM CST
Don't forget some gingers, for gorgeous foliage and flowers nearly all year 'round. Some need shade, such as the Alpinias and Kaemferia (Peacock Ginger, a low growing one) but most can take at least half a day's sun just fine, with adequate water. If you're growing Canna and bananas, you're going to be watering a lot!

This is Alpinia, does best with only morning sun. Next is Hedychium 'Dr. Moy' with wonderful fragrant flowers. Both have tall, lush variegated foliage that gives a very tropical look.
Thumb of 2014-05-29/dyzzypyxxy/12a3c8 Thumb of 2014-05-29/dyzzypyxxy/24f4cb

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 28, 2014 10:38 PM CST
What a great suggestion, Elaine! I have a couple types of ginger already in pots - I don't know why I didn't think of them. I will definitely be planting them in this area.

Thank you all for all of the suggestions - what great motivation Thumbs up
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
May 29, 2014 7:19 AM CST
Brugmansia for sure and maybe some Anthuriums.
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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
May 29, 2014 7:41 AM CST
Calathea? Understory plants.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 29, 2014 8:04 AM CST
I actually had a large pair of Brugs removed. A few years back, my elderly mum was admitted to the hospital with what the docs thought was a massive stroke. It turned out that she had been pruning a brug that day and had been inadvertently poisoned. She did recover but I have been wary keeping brugs since due to my grandkids and pets. I am sure it was just a freak accident but... well, I worry.

I am going to have to research the Anthuriums and Calathea. Thank you so much for the suggestions - I am getting quite excited now.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
[Last edited by OldGardener - May 29, 2014 1:05 PM (+)]
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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
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Xeramtheum
May 29, 2014 8:25 AM CST
I've been poisoned when working Brugs and Datura .. the key to working with these plants is to wear gloves if you have any cuts on your hands and never ever touch your face or eat anything until you have washed your hands. - with grandkids they are definitely not a good plant to have around.
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
May 29, 2014 9:39 AM CST
I agree
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 29, 2014 10:27 AM CST
Variegated Schefflera, drought tolerant, tropical and likes both full sun and dappled location.
Thumb of 2014-05-29/tarev/ac3a0d Thumb of 2014-05-29/tarev/7a857c

Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
May 29, 2014 10:56 AM CST
So overused here in Florida that I can't stand it anymore but I agree, a nice tropical and easy to care for.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
May 29, 2014 1:58 PM CST
I am thinking too of the present drought conditions here in California, most tropical plants are water needy, at least this one is not. Smiling
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
May 29, 2014 5:09 PM CST
You've got some great suggestions above, all I wanted to add is to be careful planting under that Eucalyptus. I think it is the sap but nothing grows well under them, they seem to poison the soil for other plants.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
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OldGardener
May 30, 2014 7:45 AM CST
I actually cannot plant under the Eucalyptus - the roots are massive - but that is good information to know.

Oddly, I don't often see Schefflera in the landscapes here. I like the drought-tolerant aspect as I don't think that we have even broken the 1 or 2" mark for annual precipitation this year here Crying . It will definitely be on the list.

I would like to thank you all for giving me some great suggestions!
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
[Last edited by OldGardener - May 30, 2014 7:47 AM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
May 30, 2014 12:09 PM CST
Whereabouts are you in SoCal...are you more inland or nearer the coast?

Schefflera is drought tolerant, but just to let you know..once it starts hitting the onerous triple digit, like any other plant, tips may burn..but they bounce back quite well.

Another suggestion, though I am pretty sure you have seen this plant all over SoCal..Agapanthus. They have that tropical feel, and lovely blooms, and quite drought tolerant too.

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