ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Exotic Tropicals In Your Garden Part 2

Updated on February 26, 2010

A small red Abyssinian banana can reach up to 15 feet tall by the time it is killed by frost in the fall. It is often said in garden-design books that any successful garden combines a balance of flowers and foliages. Flowers abound in both perennials and annuals. There are many good ground-covering plants with interesting foliage, including perennials like hostas and pulmonaria and annuals like dusty miller and coleus. But sizeable foliage plants are often void in many gardens.

For massive exotic foliage, there is perhaps no better choice than the giant elephant ear, Alocasia macrorhiza. In summer it will send up upright-facing, shiny green leaves. It can reach nearly 9 feet tall. Providing a striking backdrop for almost any colored flowering is the black elephant ear, Alocasia "Black Velvet." For the diminutive garden, there is Alocasia "Hilo Beauty," which has apple-green leaves with attractive cream markings. Requiring partial shade is another large growing elephant ear, Xanthosoma sagittifolium "Chartreuse Giant." Throughout the summer, this plant sports large leaves that are a soft butter yellow.

For more upright foliage and an array of interesting flowers, the cannas offer a myriad of choices. Like elephant ears, cannas can be purchased as a plant or as rhizome (also sold with summer-flowering bulbs). Some grow to be over 10 feet tall while others reach only 3 feet. All have broad strap-like foliage that points skyward. While most of the foliage is green, there are a few interesting variegated forms. Flowering is profuse, and colors range from yellow to orange to red.

One of the best of the dwarf cannas is Canna "Pink Beauty," which reaches a height of 28 inches and is covered in hot-pink flowers edged in gold and glossy green foliage. My favorite canna is "Pretoria," which will reach 5 to 9 feet tall. The leaves are green with distinct parallel striations of golden chartreuse. The deep orange flowers make for a stunning contrast against the luxuriant foliage. Another interesting variegated selection is "Pink Sunburst." Like "Pretoria," its foliage is striated, but this cultivar combines green, orange and red. Atop these 3-foot plants are soft pink flowers.

The banana, a true icon of tropical gardens, combines well with elephant ears and cannas. It offers significant height in the summer garden, robust foliage and often striking stem and leaf coloring. Not requiring a large amount of space is the blood leaf banana, Musa zebrina. The wide leaves have an irregular, yet stunning splashing of a dark red. For unsurpassed impact in the tropical garden, consider the red Abyssinian banana, Ensete ventricosum "Maurelii." In a good season, it may reach 12 to 15 feet tall. The long, lustrous green leaves have a burgundy undertone. The smooth trunk is a striking shiny red.

For all the impact they make in the summer garden, these tropicals require very little care. They will thrive if given rich soil and ample amounts of water, fertilizer and sun. It is amazing how these plants will transform a garden that you may feel has become lackluster and predictable into a lush tropical paradise where you least expect it.

Back to Start


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks! Welcome to the club! :)

    • RTalloni profile image


      8 years ago from the short journey

      Okay, I'm a follower now.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)