March 14, 2015

My Tropical Wish List of Flowers and Foliage

bougainvillea

If I lived in a warm, tropical climate ... and if money was no object ... and if all I was thinking about was plants I simply enjoy ...

hibiscus 1

I would definitely have a tropical Hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis). Maybe a warm red one.

hibiscus 2

Or maybe an apricot-colored one with a warm red center. Better yet, I'd have a few of each.

coleus

Of course, I'd have some of the same favorite plants I grow in my northern garden during the summer, like swaths of variegated Coleus (Solenostemon spp.; Plectranthus spp.).

lantana

And bright Lantanas (L. camara).

regina iris

Oh, I would have to splurge on at least one 'Regina' Iris (Neomarica caerulea 'Regina').

jatropha

And of course, a dwarf Jatropha shrub (J. integerrima). Who wouldn't want a plant that attracts butterflies and that blooms 365 days a year?

sweet almond

Also, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata). Both its blooms and foliage are gorgeous, and it smells like vanilla/almond.

chinese lantern

Any tropical garden must have at least one Chinese Lantern (Abutilon spp.).

yellow elder

Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans) is an attention-grabber and conversation-starter (and it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies).

indian hawthorns

One foundation planting of choice would be Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis spp.)--a low-maintenance bloomer.

mexican heather

And of course, I'd need a few pots of Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia), for its foliage and sweet lavender-colored blooms.

sedona

Gotta have some hybrid tea roses in a warm climate. Maybe 'Sedona'? (Sigh.)

colorama dracaena

Definitely masses of Colorama (Dracaena marginata), which is actually a shrub, but looks like a grass.

ground orchid

I'd want to include some orchids. Possibly an easy-care Ground Orchid (Epidendrum radicans)?

foxtail fern

Oh gosh, I would add a patch of Foxtail Ferns (Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers'), for the way the sunlight catches in their fine foliage.

duc azalea

Azalea 'Duc de Rohan' would be another "must have" for its color and form.

mystic spires

I'd need a hot perennial Salvia like 'Mystic Spires.'

fire cracker

And a couple of Firecracker Plants (Russelia equisetiformis) for their wispy foliage and bright red blooms.

porterweed

For some reason, I'm attracted to the flowers, foliage, and form of Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).

agave and bromeliad

Oh, and of course, I'd need a few agaves and bromeliads in my tropical garden.

white dipledina

This beauty would be a focal point of my tropical garden--both by day and at night in my moonlight garden. A white Dipladenia (Mandevilla) with 3- to 5-inch blooms!

boug barbara karst

Last but not least, my tropical garden would definitely need a Bougainvillea (B. glabra). My personal favorite is 'Barbara Karst.'

boug 2

But the butterflies seem to prefer this Lilac hybrid, so I guess I'd have to include this one in my garden, too.

I'm cheating with this post by linking in to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens and Foliage Follow-Up at Digging. These flowers and foliage are nowhere to be found in my Wisconsin garden. But they're blooming in my dream tropical garden, and many are blooming in gardens along Florida's Gulf Coast.

(Thanks to Oak Farms Nursery in Englewood, Fla., for the inspiration.)

69 comments:

  1. Great choices all and beautiful photos as well. I know you'd love these, but you can grow beautiful flowers and great foliage plants in Wisconsin--just maybe not this time of year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is true, Tina. I would miss the Crabapples and the spring-flowering bulbs if I lived down here year-round. Better to visit temporarily and then go back home for springtime. The hardier plants are actually, in some ways, more amazing for having survived our brutal winters! But it is fun to visit tropical places!

      Delete
  2. Oh, your wish-list could have been mine too!! Hibiscus, yes please! And abutilons? Definitely! And I would love to grow orchids outdoors, can you just imagine swapping my 180 lilies for 180 orchids??? I could :-))

    Bouganvillea is definitely on my TRY list, I just have to give it a go, there are a few varieties that possibly could survive here in London so I obviously just have to give it a go – I just haven’t taken the plunge yet. But one thing I have bought for my tropical corner is a lemon tree, it will arrive on Wednesday. Yay! It is going to grow outside all year round and I have to whisper sweet words to it every late autumn according to the lady at the nursery so it behaves over winter and survives :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hibiscus and Bougainvillea would be at the top of my list! I might try the latter in pots during the summer and then bring them inside for the winter. I've seen many potted ones here, and they look lovely spilling over the sides. Yay for you--a Lemon tree! I would think it would perform just fine in London. You rarely dip below freezing, and from what I understand they can take a couple of freezes if you water them and mist them the night before. Mine is inside in a pot, and it seems to be doing just fine that way, too. I can't wait to pick and use my first lemon when I get home! I'll look forward to hearing about your progress with the new tree, Helene!

      Delete
  3. Oh, I am dreaming of that lovely warm climate with these wonderful colourful plants, but we have to do with what we have. Some of the plants I have or had in my greenhouse. I once had the Tecoma stans, grown from seeds from Madeira, it grew like mad and at last got flowers. After a couple of years we did not heat our greenhouse anymore and of course it died, but it was quite an experience. Wish you happy dreams about your tropical garden and may be you can try some of them, but they never look so good as in their home country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, true! Every climate and habitat has its benefits and challenges. I would miss the snow if I didn't experience it for an entire year. The "perfect" arrangement for me would be to live in Wisconsin for most of the year, and leave for February and the first few days of March. I also agree with your thoughts about the plants never looking so good as in their home country or region. It's another good excuse to travel! ;-)

      Delete
  4. Oh, beautiful! I love that red orchid. Some of those would grow in North Carolina, and I miss them. On the other hand, there are some things that only grow well in the cooler climate where I am now. Always a trade off! So nice to go and visit and see different plants, though. Lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Indie: Isn't that orchid interesting? I was surprised that it's "easy-care" here. It looks so fragile and unique, I would have thought it would be fussy and difficult. I think if I lived in the tropics year-round I would miss the Crabapples and the Lilacs. Definitely, a trade-off!

      Delete
  5. As many places I have been in recent years where gardens grow these plant, I still prefer our cold climate varieties. I think we get the best of all worlds since we have the tropical annuals and houseplants. My cousin's garden in St. Lucia had all the plants you showed, but she pined for the plants she has at her PA ranch. I think one may get easily tired of all that exuberance of texture and loud color.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point, Donna. Sometimes when we see and experience constant plenty and constant paradise, we become numbed by it. This happened to us when we vacationed in Hawaii several years ago. Every day was like the last. The weather was perfect. It was a great vacation, but I think I would have become bored with it over time. If I lived down here all the time, would miss sudden summer thunderstorms, our cold-climate plants, and the change of seasons. But it sure is nice to visit Florida for a few weeks in late winter!

      Delete
  6. You will need a few acres!
    Enjoy the warmth!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, of course, Alain! This is a "dream" garden. So it would require several acres. And, of course, I would have unlimited energy to care for it. And I would have a few helpers--maybe it would be a "co-op" garden. There would be no need to worry about invasive plants, and all the local insects and wildlife would be supported just fine. The people would always be in good health and happy. ;-)

      Delete
  7. What a beautiful array of colour and how wonderful it would be to have them all in one place... I love the plant Lantanas and Colorama .
    Amanda xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a perfect world ... ha ha. Of course, there's no perfect world here. But in my "dream garden" these would be some of my picks. I think I will always have Lantanas in my garden. They're wonderful annuals for a summer garden and no worries about invasiveness in a cold climate. They die with the first killing frost.

      Delete
  8. Agaves for sure and maybe that grassy shrub. Euphorbias and corylopsis and mahonia . . . I could go on and on. I just remind myself they can't grow tulips where it never gets cold!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I would have focused more on Agaves, but they only had a few at the nursery. I didn't see any Mahonias. Yes, yes, yes! Mahonias would be on my list, too! But, like you, I would miss the Tulips ... and the Daffodils, and the Crabapples ...

      Delete
  9. Are contemplating a change in residence?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, not so much, Les. If I could choose, I would be a partial snowbird every year--from February 1 through March 15. I love Wisconsin too much (from mid-March through October) to move away. ;-) But it sure is nice to visit a warm place at the end of winter!

      Delete
  10. At least seven of the plants you showed grow in my zone 8 garden. There are moments when I long for lilacs, peonies and other beautiful plants that either faint and fall over in our heat or just refuse to bloom without some real chill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you, Jean! Yes, I would miss the Lilacs, Peonies, and Crabapples, among others! This was a silly "dream" post. But if I did live in a zone 8 or higher climate, these plants would be on my list! :)

      Delete
  11. Well, SOMEBODY sure had a good time playing around at the nursery! Lovely photographs. That Regina Iris is like something I dreamed as a little girl, so remarkably lovely. I only realized about 10 years ago that I had the Chinese Lantern in the far reaches of my garden--it was so shy and retiring, I must have a variation. But that same delicate shape and color is there, just much smaller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tee hee. Yes, I did have fun imagining what my "dream" tropical garden would look like. The Regina Iris is stunning! I read somewhere that Regina is more cold-hardy than people realize. But that's only to about zone 7. I must say, though, that we have some stunning Irises, including native ones, in Wisconsin, too. How fun that you discovered an Abutilon in your garden! That would be exciting!

      Delete
  12. Just beautiful. I love the Hibiscus, Sweet Almond and Chinese Lantern.
    Fun post.
    Thank you.
    Carla

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they are all fabulous, Carla! Looking forward to our stunning Wisconsin plants coming to life within the next few weeks. Cheers!

      Delete
  13. Oh how wonderful to have a wish list. There are so many wonderful tropical plants that would be nice to grow outside if it were more tropical and you have touched on many that would be on my own list. Your post was such fun and now I really can't wait until the local nursery opens again in just a few days. Happy Bloom Day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! I'm looking forward to plant-shopping, too. Only a few of these will be on my list (as annuals or overwintering plants) because they can't survive my Wisconsin winters. But I'll likely shop for a few cold-hardy perennials, too. Happy plant-shopping, Lee!

      Delete
  14. Such a yummy, beautiful post . . .
    Makes me hungry for springtime flowers . . .
    Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynne. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) I'm excited to see the spring blooms at home during the next few weeks!

      Delete
  15. Oh, the dreams we gardeners have! Your tropical garden would be a paradise! Me? I dream of swaths of sweet pastel blooms in an English cottage garden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, now you have me pining for an English cottage garden. ;-) Frankly, any garden with blooming plants and interesting foliage plants, and the wildlife they support, seems fabulous to me!

      Delete
  16. After working the garden center, and hating those Hibiscus...because here they were white fly factories...LOL. I thought oh I'm not going to find any plants on her list that I yearn for....wrong!

    Ah there are too many to list. Gorgeous, are they all growing where you are staying?

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. White fly factories. Hmmm, I didn't realize that. I wonder if it depends on the climate/location, etc. Mom has a Hibiscus outdoors that seems to be doing quite well. But whiteflies are buggers, so that would be a consideration. Yes, I've seen most of these plants in gardens around the area. :)

      Delete
  17. Hi Beth, i am smiling throughout your choices. Good choices, all easy to maintain, and they are all here. And that blue porterweed is really a weed i see a lot in our property, where they converge in larger patches the butterflies are there too. You should include my hoyas in your tropical garden, haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andrea: Yes, I'm sure you would have even more Hoyas in your garden than you have now! Lucky you to have all these beautiful plants in your part of the world! No wonder I like the Porterweed--if it attracts butterflies! And funny that it's so prevalent by you and considered a weed, but sold as an ornamental plant here in the U.S. ;-)

      Delete
  18. I like the way your dream! So many beautiful plants but in warm climates they also have huge bugs and reptiles as big as you are. I suppose that cuts down on the rodent population...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a very good point! And there are many more biting insects down here year-round--like fire ants and chiggers and mosquitoes. I do enjoy having a break from the mosquitoes up in my northern climate! Also, yes ... we did see alligators during one of our outings. They were huge! And there are armadillos roaming around at night. A few more (and larger) predators than we have in the Midwest.

      Delete
  19. Oh please, so beautiful! And so tropical! I really love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the "dream," Endah. :) I doubt I'll ever live down here year-round, but if I did, I'd want some of these plants in my garden.

      Delete
  20. Oh, magnificent, simply WONDERFUL! And since we live in the same region of the country, I can agree with you that if the climate was more gentle, I'd also have my pick of certain plants and trees.Back east, we had pagoda dogwood trees that bloom in delicate pink....HEAVEN! Blue hydrangeas would be a pick as well as wonderful azaleas in multiple colors. But not here! Nope, we are luck if we can crank out the specially cultivated wisteria that is borderline Minnesota! But we'll take what we can get. GORGEOUS PHOTOS and thank you so much for coming by! Anita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anita: I'm surprised you can't grow Hydrangeas in Minneapolis. They seem to do quite well in the Madison area, including in my garden. And many people have cold-hardy Azaleas, too. I don't have any, but I might add some. But, yes, we have to be very patient with Wisteria! I have one growing up an arbor in my garden, and it is taking a LONNNGGG time to fill in. But most of the tropical plants in this post won't survive our winters as perennials. On the other hand, we have blooming bulbs, Crabapples, and Lilacs! :)

      Delete
  21. You picked some beauties Beth - in my dream tropical garden, a Mango Tree would be top of the list. Hibiscus and Bouganvillea would come a close second. My brother used to live in Asia and friends of theirs owned a specialist Orchid nursery, sadly I was not into plants when I used to visit and their beauty totally escaped me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Mango tree would be wonderful! I didn't think about that. I love Mangoes! We just had one last night--so refreshing! You must have some wonderful stories from your visits to your brother's place in Asia!

      Delete
  22. Ah, the tropical envy of temperate gardeners. Yes, I've enjoyed seeing bougainvillea covered buildings in flaming fuchsia, but as a tropical botanist I'm a bit jaded about UTF, ubiquitous tropical flora, some of the ornamentals that dominate gardens around the world. Even worse I've worked where lantana is an invasive weed such that I no longer enjoy seeing it at all. If it could be only one tropical plant, and I had the garden for it, it would be a royal Poinciana or maybe an African tulip tree (Spathodea).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, tropical envy! Exactly. It's hard for me to imagine Lantana as invasive, although I've seen a few of the non-natives really taking off around here. It must be so difficult to control anything invasive around here, because they can just keep growing all year. You are fortunate to have traveled to the tropics and studied many of these plants! I have noticed those trees you mention around here and they are beautiful! One of my favorite warm-climate trees is the Orchid Tree (Bauhinia spp.). I remember seeing them in New Orleans, too. Lovely.

      Delete
  23. Thanks for inviting us into your dream world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are most welcome, Ricki! I appreciate it when you share your warmer-climate beauties, too.

      Delete
  24. If I had a money-is-no-object garden, a variety of hibiscus would be a must-have. Those Gorund Orchids are gorgeous. Have never heard of Mexican Heather -- as you can imagine, I'm rather partial to the regular variety. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, several tropical Hibiscus plants, please! Did you know that some Hibiscus are cold-hardy and native in Wisconsin? The Rose Mallow (Hibiscus laevis) is available in several lovely colors. I've been meaning to add one or two to my garden. Re: Mexican Heather: I've grown it in pots as an annual before and it does quite well in a sunny spot. I know several of our Madison-area garden centers sell Mexican Heather. It's lovely when in full bloom. The European Heathers are so pretty, too!

      Delete
  25. Just beautiful! Now if I ever move to Florida, I have a plant list to start a new garden with:) I definitely agree on the hibiscus and mandevilla, and I absolutely fell in love with Bougainvillea when I used to visit Arizona. Azaleas, camellias, and crape myrtles would be on my list, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rose: Yes, I totally agree with everything you said. Darn, I forgot to include Camellias! They would be at the top of my list. I don't remember seeing any blooming at the garden center, but it's probably past their bloom time here in Florida. I love Camellias!

      Delete
  26. Great post, Beth. It's fun to plan your dream money-no-object garden, and very sensible to keep it for your dreams, since as you and others say, those plants would not be very happy in Wisconsin. I've got the Foxtail Fern, it seems very tough but maybe it wouldn't cope with your extreme cold winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sue. Yes, dreams are so much fun. I doubt I'll ever have a tropical garden, but it's fun to imagine it. I sure do enjoy visiting warm-climate gardens! I love the Foxtail Fern! I saw them around here and wondered what they were, so I was thrilled to be able to make a positive ID at the garden center. Lucky you, to have this plant!

      Delete
  27. Ahh... to live in the Tropics! Beautiful parade of Blooms, Beth. My favorite is the Lantana. I use it as an annual. Potted one from the garden last Fall and brought in from the cold. In a few weeks it will be safe to place back outside. I've been gone from garden blogging too long... I'm back. Missed all my my blogging friends. So glad you are still here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use Lantanas as annuals, too, and the pollinators love 'em! I'll have to try to bring one inside next winter! Welcome back to blogging--I'm so happy you're back. Yes, I'm still plugging away (actually, I love it).
      ;-)

      Delete
  28. Yes yes yes!! It would be so hard to chose which plants to buy because there are so many that do well in warmer areas. But as much as I moan about winter, I love having 4 seasons. I just want all those colorful plants and my four seasons! Not asking for too much, am I? ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ultimately, I'm with you, Tammy. I would miss winter if I skipped one entirely. (Wow, I just realized I've never done that!) In a perfect world, I would live in Wisconsin March 15 through January 31. Just enough winter. February and early March are not fun (IMHO) in the northern Midwest.

      Delete
  29. This is so interest! Most of the plants/flowers in your list are part of the Mediterranean landscape, some of the were in my garden in Majorca and others are in the garden of my in-laws in Granada, in the South of Spain, which is the tropical landscape of Europe, I adore the avocados orchards!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, I guess I'd better visit Majorca, Granada, and Spain! Good to know! I'll start planning now. ;-)

      Delete
  30. Oh you have chosen some wonderful plants Beth especially love the hibiscus. The flowers are so very tropical and bright.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, me, too. The colors of Hibiscus are so saturated and hot. I'll probably never have a tropical garden in reality, but it's fun to imagine it. ;-)

      Delete
  31. Have you had any luck with the native hibiscus that grows in Wisconsin? I only have a couple but they sure look great.

    Very cool pictures though and it sure would be cool if some of those would grow up here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nick: No, I've never tried the Rose Mallow Hibiscus, but I'd like to someday. I think it needs more sun than I can give in my current garden, but maybe I could find a place up at the cottage. Have you posted about your Hibiscus plants on your blog?

      Delete
  32. I spent several minutes dreaming with you, Beth! Abutilon would be my choice if I needed to choose only one plant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, aren't those Abutilon plants something special? I don't think I could pick just one type of plant, though. That's just too difficult! ;-)

      Delete
  33. quite a few of your wishes are granted in my garden ;~)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only imagine how stunning your garden is, Diana. Enjoy! Oh, to be able to garden year-round!

      Delete
  34. Lovely choice of tropical plants and fabulous photos. I like your list but I would have to add some lemon trees, Plumeria( frangipani) and the magnificent Flame Tree (Delonix regia)
    I love tropical plants but I would miss the seasons, specially the excitement of Spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chloris. And, yes, of course you're right! I should have included a citrus tree! To be honest, I would miss the seasons, too, if I lived in a tropical climate year-round. It's just that winter is too long (for me, anyway) here in my part of the world. I don't mind the first part of winter, and I even enjoy snow ... until it drags on for months and months. I was happy to escape some of that this year. :)

      Delete
  35. That's a pretty extensive list! I would love an almond but most of all, wish I could grow Camellias! It's nice to travel to different climates tho & check out what's hardy there. Florida in the winter sounds great!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)