Summer Fling: Tropical Plants for Your Garden

by Rick Vuyst 

July is the ideal month to experiment with plant material. With balmy gardening weather and post-spring specials at the garden center, you can afford to try some new plants with little to lose. There’s still plenty of growing season ahead, so flowering annuals can be added to supplement your spring plantings with an experimental twist! Variety is the spice of life and adding new plants to your “hort”-folio is an investment in your personal garden prowess.

Your landscape should work as hard as you do. Variety in the landscape is preferable to a monoculture. Each plant has its season in the sun when it takes center stage. Within a diverse group of foliage, problems don’t spread like wildfire and diversity presents continual visual interest as each plant plays its role. You learn this by extending your reach and experimenting with plant material.

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you haven’t killed any plants you’re not trying hard enough.”? How true! This month, without the fear of frost, you can try all kinds of plant material, including those that provide a tropical feeling in the landscape. From herbs to hibiscus, morning glories to Monarda, try your green thumb at something new this month. You’ll be glad you did!

Mandevilla

Mandevilla

This warm weather-loving vine provides vertical interest in planting beds or containers with pink, red, yellow or white blossoms.

Crotons

Crotons

These polychromatic colorful foliage tropicals will add a riot of eye-catching hues to planting beds or containers. More sun and heat means more color with these beauties!

Dracaena

Dracaena

With sturdy spikes of color, Dracaena marginata or colorama will stand out in both container plantings or as focal points in a bed of annuals.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

In Michigan, perennial Hibiscus blossom in August and September with dinner plate blooms. Make sure to add some tropical Hibiscus (non-hardy) to your containers for a south-of-the-equator feel!

Pennisetum Rubrum

Pennisetum Rubrum

This ornamental grass is not hardy but worth growing as a centerpiece in plantings. Colorful red leaves with the bonus of graceful “bunny tails” that dance in the breeze.


“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” –Audrey Hepburn


Rick Vuyst

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Rick Vuyst is CEO of Flowerland, host of the Flowerland Show on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM as well as Mr. Green Thumb on WZZM TV 13.


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