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Tropical Plants Craze Dates Back To Victorian Era

Did you ever wonder where the pastime of cultivating tropical plants came from?

The tropical craze actually came from the Victorian Era.

To the Victorians, it was a great pastime.

Today, we are seeing this long forgotten pastime revived.

With many North American gardeners pushing the horticulture envelopes of temperate enviroments, you see more and more tropical plants in what used to be a “typical” garden setting of annuals, perennials, and native wildflowers.

Why Grow Tropical Plants?

To the Victorians, tropical plants were a fashionable way to establish social prominence and status.

Some plants offered the bonus of food and other plants, such as scented geraniums, which were a favorite for growing indoors on windowsills, offered fragrance.

Other plants were simply conversation pieces because they were so rare others had not seen them.

Today the movement to grow tropicals is less of a status symbol and more of a way to convey the mystery of a tropical enviroment in our own backyard.

Learning to grow tropicals can be quite a rewarding experience.

Growing Tropical Plants Present Challenges

Transforming our enviroment to fit them can be another challenge all together.

Is it really worth all the extra effort to go from “typical” garden flowers that easily thrive in our enviroment to growing plants that require being brought indoors every winter and learning about their needs?

For me, that was the thrill of growing tropicals.

The reward was hearing people say ‘what is that, and where do I get one?’

Being a bit excentric myself, growing these oddities seems quite common.

Easy Tropical Plants For Beginners

So, you may ask, where should I begin?

Bananas have wonderfully exotic foliage, and are quite easy to grow.

Another favorite tropical of mine, but one which requires a bit more work is the “Angel Trumpets,” or as they are otherwise known, Datura and Brugmansia.

For fragrance and huge flowers, don’t miss out on growing Brugmansia.

Datura grows quite large in one season and will flower from seed the first year.

Another favorite tropical plant of mine that is fairly easy to grow is the Bird-Of-Paradise.

I have also found Orange Trees to be quite undemanding and easy to grow.

Tropical Plants That Are A Challenge For Beginners To Grow

Of course, there are those tropical plants that for some reason just don’t survive for me.

For example, Passiflora is almost impossible for me to grow as a beginner, and Theobroma cacao also known as the chocolate tree.

My Heliconia plants are alive, but they just don’t seem to grow much.

As for growing Pineapples, well, I’m on plant # 3 and it doesn’t look real good.

Some Tropical Plants Just Take More Care Than Others

I guess some plants just require less work than others, and for those that require constant attention and exact enviroments to flourish, well, those aren’t for me, but they may be for you.

I have so many plants that taking the time to nuture those that require more time and attention just isn’t possible.

Now, don’t let this scare you off.

As I said, many plants require almost no effort and will give you excellent results.

I know you will find growing tropical plants to be quite rewarding.

An Update On Those Difficult Tropical Plants

I’m not a quitter and the plants mentioned above that once were nearly impossible for me to grow, later on, became some of my favorite plants.

They did take more time to learn how to grow because I had to learn what their needs were.

To do this, I found out where the plant grew, then I figured out what the growing conditions were where the plant was native to.

Once I figured that out, growing those plants successfully was easy.

The key was understanding how much water the plant received in its native environment as well as what the normal temperature range was.

For example, Theobroma cacao grows in the Rainforest – and in nature it thrives in a flood – drain – flood – drain environment thus this is a plant that needs to get plenty of water, then dry out.

To accomplish this, I fill the saucer under this plant with water and let it sit.

Once the water is gone, I allow the soil to dry and pull slightly away from the edge of the pot, then I fill the saucer with water again.

Doing this has allowed me to bring my Theobroma cacao trees into bloom in pots here in Indiana.

I’ve had Passiflora that have grown like crazy all over the inside of my greenhouse, bloomed and set fruit.

I’ve harvested my own pineapples and citrus.

I’m still trying to coax Heliconia and the Bird Of Paradise into bloom here, but the plants at least grow for me instead of just dying off.

So – if you really want to grow a plant – you know what to do now to help you be more successful!

This is the same thing the Victorians did back in the day.


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