Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Plants for the Tropical Yard

Gardening in the tropics is absolutely AWESOME!! Everything you have ever wanted to grow, or have grown as a houseplant, can be grown here and will grow enormous! Things will become so large you will not even recognize them as the scrawny things you had in your house. Did you know a single ficus can grow to become acres large? Yeah, a single ficus. There is one in India that is 550 acres. (Not a typo) I haven't planted any ficus but have seen very large, nice trees. Our house came with mature fruit trees (mainly avocado) but no ornamentals. I brought a couple truckloads of plant starts from the other house and have picked up a few new additions because plants are my weakness and I just can't resist! Bromeliads are a must have for the yard. They do not become super large, there are types for the sun (above) and shade (below) and many different variations of color. Some will shoot off showy flower spikes but purchase them for the leaves since that is what you will see most of the time.
Bromeliads are nice for under coconut trees and other trees since they are shallow rooted. Getting anything to grow under a coconut is kind of difficult. Coconuts are great for growing things on however, like orchids or dragon fruit, and I will blog about that sooner or later.
I have no idea what this purple ground cover is but I am very happy with it. Here in Puerto Rico they do not use latin names for plants and not even the same common names as in the states. This makes things difficult. If you see something you want photograph it and bring that along and sometimes it helps. This purple foliage is a nice ground cover that is staying low, getting white flower spikes on it and is spreading nicely. Hibiscus are amazing since there are single and double and unimaginable colors for the flowers. There are some that have variegated foliage. They can readily be pruned and I have seen them in sun and shade. Nice stand alone or as hedges. When I think ferns I think shade but this particular fern likes full sun. There is a nice curly fern but it likes shade which I don't have yet.
The flowers under this Ylang Ylang started with a 2 inch pinch off of a plant I brought as a house warming gift to our friend David. We have only been in the house since xmas, and I didn't start yard things right away, so I'd say this plant spreads easily and well. It also blooms all the time. My goal is to have less grass, more flowers, interesting shrubs and no dirt showing. I have pinched off starts from this group and moved them to other locations so I guess this is the factory. It looks like a portulaca or some kind of succulent to me. I have no idea what they call it here.
This is a split leaf philodendron. I planted this under the Flambouyant  Tree (which are starting to bloom around the hillsides) as a place the cats can lounge under. They will grow half-car-size here. The philodendron below has different colored leaves. It prefers shade but the one above can go either way.
When it comes to flowers the tropics lets you grow heliconias, gingers, bananas, calatheas and other things that grow 15 feet or more! I don't understand why houses have all cement around them and things in pots sitting around when beautiful things could be in the ground. It takes a little time in the beginning to get things established but after that you will have factories of plant babies to spread around and trade with friends!Gingers, heliconias, calatheas, bananas...sometimes the foliage looks the same. All are beautiful. Here I planted white ginger under an avocado. The smell is heavenly and it is a ginger that doesn't grow too tall. It prefers wet shady areas. I've got a variegated shell ginger. Definitely shade on this one. I love the chartreuse of this sweet potato vine. It can run on the ground, cascade out of pots or climb fences. I just planted these coleus starts. They will grow into 4 foot bushes I am sure!



Cassie said...

Beautiful! I can't wait.

ilario said...

Your blog is nice and interesting :)
ps: I would like the flag of your beautiful country on my website :))
thank you