Common Tropical Plants That Can Add Variety To Your Garden

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Common Tropical Plants 
No matter how many admiring comments your garden receives from guests, you may still feel like its missing that certain something. Perhaps you need a focal piece to really liven up your lawn, draw the attention away from your age-old shed and generally bring beauty to the mundane. Why not shy away from typical British garden staples and try something tropical instead?

You may think we we can’t possibly grow exotic trees here in the UK, but fortunately you’re wrong! You can revitalise and renew your outdoor space in an instant by adding a hardy tropical plant into the mix. As you’d expect, some plants have quite specific requirements and need to be well looked after if they’re to grow successfully. But with the right knowledge and resources, there’s simply no reason why you can’t enjoy some stunning foreign fauna just metres from your doorstep.

Tropical Plants
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Here are a few examples to inspire you:
Bamboo
Bamboo (or ‘Phyllostachys’) is often the first port of call for those looking to transform a traditional-looking garden into a tropical treat. Available in black or white, bamboo trees grow up to 6 metres tall and can create a beautiful and vibrant barrier that can be used to segregate parts of your garden. Bamboo can either be planted in soil or grown in a pot, and its versatility means it can be moved around the garden if desired.

The Palm Tree
As the most instantly-recognised exotic plant by those who are used to milder climes, the spectacularly tropical palm tree (or ‘Cordyline Australis’) will evoke frequent memories of your favourite beach holiday when planted in your very own garden. These magnificent tropical trees boast a spherical crown with strappy leaves and a long slim trunk that can grow up to 4m tall.

Palm Tree
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The Chinese Windmill Palm Tree
If you want to plant something that’s going to add the ‘wow’ factor to your garden but feel a traditional palm tree may overshadow the rest of your foliage, why not consider a Chinese Windmill palm? These palm trees (also known as Trachycarpus fortune) are almost opposite in terms of appearance when compared with traditional palm trees. Chinese Windmill palms have a shorter and thicker hairy trunk with large fan-shaped leaves. They grow no taller than a couple of metres but they must be sheltered from the wind, so aren’t suitable for very large and open gardens that are exposed to the elements.

Canna
One of the more subtle tropical-looking garden perennials is the Canna. The canna lily is a medium-sized plant that has large bronze and green leaves with a beautiful array of blooming yellow, orange and red flowers – perfect as an eye-catching summer bedding filler. Traditional Canna plants grow from four to ten feet in height but there’s always dwarf Cannas if you want to achieve a more understated effect.

Gunnera
Commonly mistaken for giant rhubarb, the Gunnera is one of the largest and most impressive herbaceous plants. This plant type is best suited near a pond or lake where reflections from the water reveal the mystical prickly undersides of the leaves. The Gunnera is not ideal if you have limited space for experimentation, as its naturally large presence can overwhelm small gardens.

For expert advice on which trees will best suit your garden, we suggest popping into a local nursery that specialises in tropical plants. You’ll have a better idea of the options available to you and will also be able to pick up valuable care and maintenance tips to keep your foliage looking fresh for years to come.

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Janet Reeve
About the Author:

Janet Reeve loves exploring unusual ideas for garden designs. She's currently working on behalf of a well-established tree nursery in the UK.

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