Tropical Vibe in a Local Garden

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by K A Kent, May 25, 2019.

  1. K A Kent

    K A Kent New Member

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    My mother grew up in the Dominican Republic, and was drawn to her current home by the wild forsythia, rhododendrons and Maule's quince draped over a cement patio. I would like to plant her a new garden to continue the lush, tropical vibe.

    The neighbours recently destroyed a giant tree that had shaded most of the yard. For the first time I have full to moderate sun to work with. Does anyone have suggestions for plants (some for small spaces, other for large) that mimic the wild, colourful, luscious plants of the Caribbean? She loves bougainvillia, but I'm not great at overwintering plants indoors.
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm in awe of people who can put together a collection of plants. I'll just contribute one - Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon. They come in lots of colours, have a long blooming time, are related to the tropical hibiscus but grow well here.
    Hibiscus syriacus - Plant Finder
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Nothing looks more tropical than a palm tree. How about Trachycarpus fortunei? Then there are the banana trees that one often see in Vancouver.
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    For me - the canna lily (summer only) look very tropical

    Also - if you go up the Sunshine Coast in BC — there is a plantation of hardy palms for sale by appointment ... it’s surreal to see the plantation in the midst of Christmas trees awaiting December

    (The palm tree for sale sign is at Coastal Tire just west of Gibsons BC)

    EDIT - didn’t Thomas Hobbs have a whole tropical look garden ?
     
  5. Anne Kivari

    Anne Kivari Member

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    Hibiscus mochatus is even more effective at creating a tropical look in a garden than syriacus due to the huge dinner plate sized flowers. I grew many of these in a variety of colours in Nanaimo. Now giving them a try in the Okanagan from seed collected from my Nanaimo plants.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    You meant moscheutos.
     
  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Plenty of ferns will go along with the tropical look, including Woodwardia.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If loudly colored flowers is the main interest the thing to do would be to visit plant outlets and see what they have on display. Otherwise, as is being discussed here already plants with noticeably decorative foliage probably do the most to make a scheme look tropical. Summer is a good time to shop around for kinds that lend themselves to this effect.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  9. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I hadn't heard of Hibiscus moscheutos before so looked it up and found these suggestions of companion plants which also like moist growing conditions.

    Maybe you can find something you like:
    "Try pairing Hibiscus moscheutos with Asclepias incarnata, Eupatorium fistulosum, Helianthus angustifolius, Lobelia cardinalis and Panicum virgatum."
     
  10. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I took a photo of a very appealing container planter a few summers ago at the UBC botanical garden

    This was July 2015 at the very nice plant store at UBC Botanical Garden

    I’ll try to post it here

    Great tropical look for PacNW.... canna lily plus easy to grow crocosmia (lucifer) and the burgundy grass (name?) makes this hot combo pop!

    EDIT - try to add photo - and the orange daisy is echinacea I think
     

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    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The crocosmia looks to be one other than 'Lucifer' - and actually crocosmias in general tend to become plagued by mites during our dry summers.
     
  12. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Interesting - it’s the one mite free weed that repeats year to year in my Coast garden nr Vanc BC

    In fact I pull it out cuz that tomato soup red is not my fav .... tho my friend has a solid red colour of same plant here

    RON - what is the burgundy grassy plant in the container?
     
  13. pmurphy

    pmurphy Contributor

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    If you're dealing with a small space, don't forget to add some vines because they can be trained up (or in any direction you want). Here are some easy to acquire examples:
    * Passiflora caerulea (blue passion flower) is definitely tropical looking and will come back from the roots each spring
    * Campsis radicans (trumpet vine) can be trained into tree form and will attract hummingbirds (which will also give your garden that tropical feel)
    * Actinidia spp. ( hardy kiwi), there are several varieties that will not only give you some color (such as Actinidia kolomikta) but will even give you edible fruit - keep on top of them regarding pruning
    * Akebia quinata (chocolate vine) which produces a mass of interesting flowers in the spring and then large edible, funky-looking fruit in the fall (think small purple banana)

    Another tropical looking plant that doesn't mind partial shade is Fatsia japonica (there are even some variegated varieties) but it may get a little larger than you're looking for.
    Or you could look at some of the larger cobra lilies such as Arisaema ringens or even Dracunculus vulgaris; you can often purchase the tubers/bulbs for these at garden centers. A. ringens is a long lasting plant with the large leaves appearing in spring and lasting right through to early fall, the flowers are a bonus.

    FYI, Hibiscus moscheutos are fantastic but they die down to nothing in the fall and then reappear in late spring early summer from the roots so keep this in mind if you decide to plant
     
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  14. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    There is a current topic in this forum about a tree called Chilopsis (link below)

    I don’t have this plant however some info online says container ok

    I know you ask for tropical so is that desert look or jungle look? Obviously this is desert look - beautiful tree.

    Chilopsis OR xChitalpa
     

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