Gardening guru Ciscoe Morris joined Margaret with a lesson on creating a tropical paradise in your yard.
Tropical plants do amazing well in our Northwest climate. Here's a list of spectacular plants that will add a fun touch of tropicana to your garden. All of the plants mentioned here do best in full-sun and well drained soil.
Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor': The pink flowers are a dud on this beauty, but the deeply lobed, dark red leaves makes this Hibiscus resemble a Japanese maple. It's probably not going to come back unless you pot it up and store it in the garage over winter, but it will grow to 3 to 5 ft tall of magnificent foliage.
Calla lily 'Sunshine' Long lasting sunshine yellow calla lily flowers on a 1 - 2 foot tall plant with tropical looking speckled leaves. Everything about this exotic plants screams tropicana! Pair it with Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor' and the squirrels will burst out in a Latin dance when they see it! This is an annual in our climate, or you can over winter it in a pot in an unheated garage.
Hedychium 'Dr. Moy': White Streaks on spiky upright green Canna like foliage. In fall, fragrant orange yellowe flowers with orange throats. Must have well drained soil, a sunny location, and plenty of water. Mulch with fern fronds after cutting to the ground in fall.
Canna 'Tropicana Gold: A glorious tropical plant with bold green and gold striping. The flowers are bright yellow edged in gold. Can easily grow to 6 ft tall in one season. Although it's risky, it can be left in the garden under a thick mulch of fern fronds. If you pot it up and store it in the garage by a window keep it growing by watering regularly. In spring put the pot by a south wall to get it growing much more quickly. Plant in full sun, but in a location protected from wind. Water and fertilize the tweetle out of it for fast growth.
Musa basjoo - Hardy banana: Nothing can match the tropical look of Musa basjoo. The hardy banana native from Japan is capable of growing to 20 feet featuring huge leaves that can reach 8 foot long. This time of year, bananas trees look brown and dead, but the stems are actually made of rolled up leaves and although the outside looks dead, the leaves within are healthy and green. It's time to prune so that the dead leaves on the outside of the stem don't interfere with the inner new growth. Climb the stepladder and cut off the dead leaves. Then begin cutting off the brown mushy tissue at the top of the stem. Keep working your ways down until you run into green tissue. Stop cutting when you find it. The green tissue is a healthy leaf and that is the point where new growth will begin. If you live where it froze hard this winter, the stem may have been frozen to the ground. If that is the case your banana will only grow to about 10 feet tall this summer. This winter, in most areas, the leaves inside the stem didn't freeze very far down. If this is the case for you, your banana will grow tall, especially if we get a warm summer. If you're really lucky, it might even produce a bunch of bananas. The little inedible bananas are fun, but they do attract pests. If you think squirrels are bad, wait until you see what monkeys do to your garden!
Trachycarpus fortunei: Chinese windmill palms are the perfect palm tree for the PNW. They can grow to over 25 feet tall. Chinese windmill palm has single stems with large, 4-foot-wide fans of sword-like leaves. It produces large plumes of yellow flowers in early summer; the flowers of female plants transform into bluish-black fruits. Chinese windmill palms make attractive specimens for formal outdoor spaces. These evergreen palms are native to the mountains and temperate regions of subtropical Asia. Provide fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Shelter from strong winds.