Have you gone somewhere spectacular on vacation recently? Or maybe you’re just dreaming of an exotic holiday?
For many of us, a truly satisfactory vacation involves lying on beaches in tropical climes, perhaps with enticing drinks in hand, and with sweetly fragrant scents of vivid flora drifting by.
You can easily evoke memories of languorous places you’ve been by gardening with tropical plants. Unless you already live in a tropical climate, here are three tips for conjuring a sense of lush leafage and bright blossoms to your Elderyard®.
Choose the right spot for contrast.
Green is not always green. The greens of plants in the eastern US and the Pacific northwest tend to be blue-green, those of plants mid-continent are yellow green, while those of desert areas and the Mediterranean are gray-green. Tropical plants, those we think of as rampant jungle plants, truly are very green green.
This means that plants you add to recall vacation or places you’ve lived before may contrast strongly with other plants in your landscape. So, deliberately locate your special plants with the view in mind. Maybe you’d like to have a shrub with huge leaves visible from the street, so you sigh with anticipated relaxation the minute you pull into your driveway. Or maybe you want wild-hued flowers visible through the kitchen windows for pleasant memories every time you glance outside.
Consider the microclimate.
Plants we think of as “tropical” have different growing needs from other plants in your yard. It’s obvious that they will require protection or other management when or if cold weather hits. Sometimes tender plants suffer even before the temperature drops to freezing, so plan ahead to cover or move them. If you try tropical plants that have a bulb, such as colocasia or ginger, you may need to dig them up for winter storage in a garage.
But jungle plants don’t all grow in full sunlight, either.
Labeling a plant as tender can also mean that it prefers full or partial shade, especially shade in the afternoon. Adding luxuriant plants around an arbor or beside a wall or hedge can offer light solutions they love.
And, of course, you’ll consider watering needs. Even though tropical plants use lots of water, learn where they naturally grow before selecting your planting spot. If the plant comes from sandy soils, it likes water on its toes alternating with air in the spaces between sand grains. If its natural location is a jungle interior, it prefers humus rich, well-draining soil where there’s always a bit of moisture.
Be lavish to get lazy luxuriance.
From the two sections above, you’ve probably noticed that plants from sultry locales don’t fit as smoothly into the low-maintenance plan you’re using in the rest of your Elderyard®, considering temperature, light, soil and water needs. It can be a lot of work to care for one or two plants. For that reason, think about creating a tropical corner of your yard to transport yourself into happy memories.
Gather your “vacation” plants together and manage them as a group.
Whether you plant them in the ground or in containers, try surrounding yourself with enough foliage and flowers to really elicit the sights and aromas you remember. Add a lounge chair for daydreaming if your spot is small, or create a smooth surface such as a deck platform enclosed in greenery for the perfect yoga spot.
Ah, now that’s relaxation!