Dreaming of wandering in a garden of tropical paradise? You don’t
need to travel to an island to escape the pressures of modern life —
when you have a resort-style garden, every day is like a holiday.
Dress your yard with
south-of-the-border style by embracing a tropical garden design in
planting areas. Tropical gardens boast colorful plants with exotic
blooms and flamboyant foliage that transform any outdoor space into
an equatorial oasis. Tropical garden designs sizzle with lavish
growth as the temperature soars. Discover some ideas for tending your
own tropical paradise.
1. The importance of
heat and moisture in your tropical garden
While it’s fun to pick
out tropical ornamentals for your garden, some important key
components such as heat, humidity, good soil, and moisture are
essential to consider.
When summer heat sends you
scurrying indoors for air conditioning, tropical gardens stage
outstanding growth. Tropical plants thrive in heat and humidity, so
it’s best to site a tropical garden where warmth multiplies,
potentially the Philippines.
Most tropical plants crave
moisture, and the more you give them, the bigger they’ll grow.
Create a tropical garden design near a water source, so you won’t
have to drag a hose to the garden during dry periods. Tropical plants
typically require soil that’s rich in organic matter. Be sure to
work adequate organic matter, such as soil conditioner, finished
compost, or composted manure, into soil prior to planting. Soil
that’s high in organic matter don't need water as frequently, which
will save you a little hose time during peak growth.
2. The element of water
in your tropical garden
Water is critical for
tropicals in containers. During peak summer heat, be sure to check
soil daily for dryness, and water as needed. Some tropicals need so
much water that it’s best to slip pots into deep saucers or tubs
that you can top off as needed.
The sound of trickling
water is a classic attribute of tropical settings, so plan to include
a water feature in your tropical garden design. You can opt for
structures like a pool area, a spa, a hot tub or even
just a pond. If your space is really limited, then a fountain will
do. Choose a simple wall or freestanding fountain, or invest a water garden that can host potted
tropicals like Egyptian papyrus, elephant ears, bird-of-paradise or
3. The right blend of
colors and accessories in your tropical garden
Combining brightly colored
foliage is the key to achieving a tropical look. For maximum impact,
position plants with red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and lime-green
leaves next to each other. Colorful flowers, such as fragrant
frangipani, heavenly hibiscus, ornamental ginger and dramatic canna
lilies will warm up the front
yard garden and provide further
contrast to the vibrant ground-dwelling foliage and green canopy.
Accessorize your tropical
garden design by including touches that ooze calypso charm. Consider
blazing tiki torches, potted orchids, and twinkling lights. A hammock
or rope swing provides island-style seating, or choose
weather-resistant wicker for an equatorial ambience. For more
substantial furniture, select teak or shorea pieces. Both offer
weather-resistance and durability, although shorea delivers these
traits at a more affordable price. Include cushions outfitted with
sunny tropical fabrics.
4. Foliage, trees, and
herbs for your tropical garden
For the most part,
tropical gardens rely on foliage rather than flowers to create
interest year round. Foliage should be flamboyant, lively and
colorful, and plants must be chosen on the basis of the size, shape
and texture of their leaves. Planting in groups of odd numbers
(three, five, seven and nine) is a common trick employed by garden
designers — it gives a broad brushstroke of color and texture, and
makes a huge difference to the feel of the garden. Placing plants
with contrasting foliage next to each other will create drama and
Moreover, a selection of
perfectly placed palms and bamboo is essential for achieving a
tropical look. Although they’re often criticized for growing too
big or escaping, palms and bamboo will benefit the style and mood of
the garden — they provide the rustle of foliage in the wind,
furnish your garden with a fern-like ceiling and dense green walls,
and do a great job of privacy screening. There are a million
varieties to choose from, so visit a specialist palm or bamboo
nursery where you can seek expert advice.
If you love to cook, try
growing Asian herbs and spices in your tropical garden. Not only do
they contribute wonderful flavors and aromas to a wide variety of
dishes, they smell fantastic in the garden and help deter pests.
Cardamom, kaffir lime, lemongrass, coriander and mint will grow well
among tropical shrubs in cool, moist spots.
5. Tropical garden care
Don’t expect a tropical
garden to be maintenance-free. Anyone who gardens in a warm,
high-rainfall climate like the Philippines’ knows that plants
explode out of the ground during wet periods. They must be pruned
into submission or they’ll take over. The need for constant
housekeeping means a good pair of secateurs is essential — use them
to regularly tidy up any brown foliage, dead palm fronds and spent
Feed your garden with a
mulch of organic manure each spring and spray all the foliage with a
seaweed solution once every season to keep the plants robust and
strong. In tropical gardens, it’s best to keep the lawn area small
— time spent mowing and weeding the lawn is wasted time!
6. Expertise from a
landscape designer for your tropical garden
Hiring a professional
designer is well worth the money — not only is the end result
visually alluring, any potential problems can be addressed at the
start. Colorful vistas, linear pathways and focal points create the
structure of the garden and help link indoor rooms with outdoor
spaces. Formal paths and straight garden beds contrast with the
jungle plantings, while luscious palms, colorful foliage, timber
furniture, Balinese lanterns and brightly covered cushions complete
the resort style. All of these fun and smart ideas can be
incorporated to your tropical garden with the guidance of a professional landscape designer.