Hello fellow gardeners. My interest in growing tropical plants came from the fact that I was tired of growing the same plants that everyone else was. I wanted my garden to be unique, something that people would stare at in amazement. With the addition of my greenhouse, my dream has started becoming a reality. However, even without a greenhouse, it is possible to grow a wide range of tropical or exotic plants and flowers.
My goal is to provide you with the information that you might have trouble finding so that you can enjoy these tropical beauties in your home, office or garden.
There are also links to products I recommend from companies I have a referral relationship with. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Why Grow Tropical And Exotic Plants?
Have you ever wondered what makes us want to grow plants uncommon to our area? Is it the vivid colors, unique foliage or flowers or maybe just the challenge of successfully growing plants uncommon to us or the location where we live? The answer to that question is as unique and varied as each of us.
Tropical plants and flowers are readily available these days. There is no need to mail order these beauties when many big box stores and nurseries readily stock them. Whether its orchids, bromeliads, banannas, bird-of-paradise or other tropicals that you favor, there is a large selection of them available at prices from $1.00 up to about $20.00, depending on the size and variety you choose.
What About Grow Lights?
The problem with many of these plants, according to some people, is they require a large amount of light in order to prosper. Whether it is because of the varied foliage colors, that will fade to green without proper light, or due to their flowers, the light requirement can be easily satisfied even without a greenhouse. Grow lights are the first choice, but true grow lights might be more of an investment than you want to put out when you are just starting to grow these plants.
Fluorescent lights and their fixtures are a cheaper option, but be sure to choose both “hot” and “cool” lights so you get the full light spectrum. The way to know what spectrum the fluorescent lights are is to look at the colors on the package. Red, orange and yellow indicate “hot” and blue or green indicate “cool.” Use one light from each spectrum in the fluorescent light fixture.
Grow lights are available in both fluorescent bulbs as well as regular household light bulbs ready to put into any lamp you already own. These are a much cheaper alternative the fancier grow lights on the market meant for serious hobbyists or professional growers.
Water And Temperature Requirements
Tropical plants don’t have huge water requirements or need special heating during the winter months either. Normal watering and temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit keep them perfectly happy. Some tropicals will take temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit with no noticeable damage.
During an unexpected cold spell this year, my greenhouse dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and with the exception that I lost all of my foliage, the roots on my tropicals are fine and forming new growth, so these beauties are quite hardy too.
The key is to keep them in a frost-free environment that does not fall below freezing and make sure not to over water during their “dormancy” period. I water every three to four weeks during the winter months. Once my plants start showing signs of new growth I increase my watering schedule so the soil stays moist.
Tropicals In The Summer Garden
During the summer months, tropical plants are gorgeous tucked in among your annuals and perennials, although keeping them in pots will require frequent watering. The summer months are the one time that I feel like I am watering my tropicals on a daily basis to keep them from wilting, but again, I keep them potted instead of planting them in the ground. I find it is easier come fall to pick up a pot than to dig up a plant.
Buying, Selling And Overwintering Tropical Plants
Another great way to overwinter your large tropical plants, if you prefer not to have to find a place for the whole plant during the winter months, is to take cuttings and root them so that they will be ready to plant the following spring. Many tropical plants such as gingers and bananas can have their foliage cut way back leaving just the rhizome which is much easier to store.
Another great idea is to sell or trade cuttings from your tropicals or the entire plant, if you prefer not to overwinter them. There are many online forums where gardeners meet and swap or sell plants. Be sure to contact your local garden clubs as well to see if they have plant swaps.
You can also buy and sell plants on eBay. Just register and go down to miscellanous and look under gardening. This is also a great place to buy some unusual or rare plants.
Questions or comments? Leave them them in the comment section below!
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