Tropical Container Garden Ideas
Put the lime in the coconut—and the island spirit in your containers—with the bold foliage of heat-loving tropical plants.
This combo is all party—right down to the brilliant cobalt blue pot. Sculptural Oakleaf croton stands out as the upright element, surrounded by Sonic Hot Rose on Gold New Guinea impatiens, 'Karen' Rieger begonias, Heuchera villosa 'Citronelle', 'Sweet Caroline Bronze' sweet potato vine, and Sundew Springs Lysimachia.
Rise and Shine
This grouping likes a sunny wake-up call but appreciates afternoon shade. Golden creeping Jenny drapes over the edge of the pineapple-esque pot, and 'Painted Paradise Red' New Guinea impatiens add beautiful dark contrast in flower and leaf. Dramatic palm leaf begonias can be brought indoors as a houseplant at the end of the season.
Caladiums, especially bicolor varieties with white or pink leaves, bring welcome color to part-shade containers. This easygoing collection of tropical-punch colors combines pale caladiums with rosy centers, purple-and-green Magilla perilla, the dark purple leaves of calathea 'Dottie', and a few ferns (including a feathery ghost fern). Because this container has no flowers, you can rely on color and texture all summer and eliminate the need to deadhead faded blooms.
Stripe a Pose
With graphic, striped foliage and vivid blooms, Tropicanna cannas provide gorgeous vertical sizzle. An array of accent plants ring around the base like a frothy ballet tutu: creeping Jenny, Luscious Citrus Blend lantana, Japanese hakone grass and deep purple Ornamental Pepper Black Pearl.
A Chinese fan palm sways above variegated Alligator Tears coleus, chartreuse 'Marguerite' sweet potato vines, scarlet-blooming angel-wing begonias, and (tucked away) orange New Guinea impatiens. Potted palms can spend winters indoors by a sunny window and go outside when the weather warms up in late spring.
Winter Savings Plan
News flash: The Midwest doesn't have a tropical climate (at least not after September). But that doesn't mean you have to throw away all your tropicals at the end of the summer. Many plants or their bulbs can be brought inside over the winter.
To make relocation easier, plant them in containers made of lightweight resin or pots with casters on the bottom. The tubers of cannas, caladiums, dahlias and sweet potato vines can be dug up in the fall and stored indoors in a cool, dry place until spring.