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"Tropical" Plants for the Midwest

West Plains, MO(Zone 6b)

Hello - does anyone know of some tropical looking plants that are hardy to zone 6? The only two I have found are Japanese Hardy Banana, musa basjoo, and aralia, tetrapanax papyrifer. I know there must be some more out there. Any ideas?

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Chinese parasol tree is pretty tropical looking and is doing well in St Louis.
Huge sculpted leaves. I've got a couple of them.
They are just now leafing out.
I coppiced them to the ground the first couple years to accentuate the tropical-looking foliage.
But after a couple years, I seemed to never get around to it.
Now they're 10ft tall. But still a very tropical look.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Ericabelle, I went out this morning and took a couple photos of the parasol tree,
so you can see what it looks like. It's just leafing out, so leaves aren't very big yet.
But they are nice, big tropical looking leaves.
And I think they don't look as tattered as the hardy banana does in our area.

Thumbnail by Weerobin
Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Here's a closer picture of the leaf shape.

Thumbnail by Weerobin
West Plains, MO(Zone 6b)

Wow - that is beautiful! I will have to put that on my "To Buy" list!

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Cannas. You have to mulch heavily but as long as you do that then they will survive.

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Ericabelle, you need to check this site out, if you haven't already, always makes me day dream. http://www.plantdelights.com/ You can get a catalog from them also. I have ordered from them. Pricey, but you get nice plants. Mine wouldn't fit in any 2 inch pots, that's for sure.
But in your zone, you can actually grow a lot of these plants. Do you mainly have full sun? Good Luck!

West Plains, MO(Zone 6b)

7oaks - that is a GREAT website! I ordered a catalog right away. Yes, I mainly have full sun. We just bought this house, and it has lots of trees in the backyard; but they are pretty evenly spaced. In the "wilder" part of the yard, there are shady wildflowers growing next to sunny wildflowers; so I am hoping that means I will be able to grow just about anything! =) The main drawback of the yard is the dreaded RED CLAY!

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Lots of compost will help with the clay. :~)

Wymore, NE(Zone 5a)

Also, lots of plants will tolerate clay.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I think cannas look tropical as well as moonflowers and my hollyhocks are very tall and lush with great big leaves. They look tropical to me. Crinum lily also.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

First time I saw a small hosta I thought it was a tropical house plant.

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

What about hardy hibiscus? Hosta, sum and substance has leaves large enough to pass for an elephant ear if you didn't know better.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

There are a few with larger leaves than Sum and Substance. T-rex,Eliator and Elinators new sister plant Victory. Trpouble with the giant hosta group is many of those have floppy leaves that the wind tears up.

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Sum and Substance seems to stand up to the wind. I live on a top of a hill without any wind breaks for atleast a mile to the south and the hosta sum and substance just goes with the flow.

Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

Musa Lasiocarpa should be hardy for you especially if you mulch it. I have Elephant Ears, the plain green ones, that have come back for the 3rd year now. I just mulch them very heavy in the fall. Passiflora 'Incarnata' should be hardy for you. Some of the other Passifloras may be also.

I also have the dreaded red clay and I finally had dirt hauled in for my garden. After 6 dump truck loads though I think I will just amend the heck out of it small parts at a time.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

dylan, that sounds like the thing to do, just haul in better dirt and amend it (lot less work than amending clay and rocks). Hi Ericabelle, there's another EE, Colocasia Pink China, hybridized by DG's own bwilliams. (Brian Williams- briansbotanicals.net) And there's amorphophallus (voodoo lilies)... they would be hardy for you and very unique looking... kinda palm tree like. There's also castor beans, an annual but easy to grow from seed and they have a red/maroonish hue to them. Why don't you just haul em in and out with the seasons, like me and Happ? lol oo, look Happ, Chinese Parasol Tree.... Weerobin, I'm going to have to look that one up!

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

AuntB I am not looking up anything else....LOL.
At this rate I had better start hauling things inside for the winter because I won't be done by December....LOL, so many tropicals and such a short season.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

No, don't start that yet, let's take a day to sit and reflect.... THEN start planning the fall haul. Everything is getting lush and full...Ahhh, Summer!

Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

I have China Doll and it is doing great and multiplying.

Savannah, MO

Hey ericabelle, Hey you tried Crapemyrtle? I believe it
will be hardy to your zone? And someone else
mentioned Altheas, I think. They are wonderful plants. I have them
here in NW Mo. No problems with them thus far.
Steph

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Forgot about Crapemyrtles they are very tropical looking.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

Don't they die to the ground in zone 5? They are eye-catching when in bloom... Dylan, please tell us bout your multiplying China Doll.

Savannah, MO

crapemyrtles in zone 5 now there's a notion.
ericabelle is in zone 6b. She was wanting ideas
on tropical looking plants for her zone so i suggested
crapemyrtles. wish i could grow them in zone 5
with no trouble. alas i cannot.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

I've seen them around here Steph. It grows back fast and is covered in purplish/maroonish color blooms.... maybe it's not crape myrtle.. Zone 6b, sorry about that.. How about Gunnera? Big leaves and likes cool roots, beside a pond or foundation. I think it's zone 6. I've seen palm trees in Zone 6, not sure what kind. Rose of Sharon, look tropical, a hibiscus family member and they come in different bloom colors.. There might be one with variegated foliage.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Don't forget Passiflora.

Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

Go to Brian's Botanicals and I saw 17 different tropicals that are hardy. Some were hardy all the way to Zones 2 & 3. I don't know anything about this place but might be worth a try.

http://www.briansbotanicals.net/catalog/

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

Dylan, I can vouch for Brian. Both green thumbs up! I've ordered from him numerous times and I visited his place last summer. He's quite a plantaholic and he hybridizes with the specific purpose of creating plants winter hardy to zone 6. Very nice young man, even took me over to see his mom's yard.. He's a regular on the Aroid and Tropical plants forum and you'll see him on other forums as well. Hey, I haven't checked out the RU thread for a couple days, are you going to make it this fall? Got a pic of that China doll plant? Passiflora, yes, good one Pepper, I can't remember the name of the hardy one.... Incarnata??

Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

As a matter of fact I do. I planted this in Oct when it was given to me and knew it wouldn't make it because of how late it was. I was amazed at it coming back this year. I guess the winter was so mild it made it ok. I'm hoping for another mild winter. The guy said it was 'China Doll' and hardy. It is pretty with its little pink center.

Thumbnail by dylancgc
Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

Here is another.

Thumbnail by dylancgc
Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

Anyone know of a good source for Musa or Passiflora seeds? The place I was getting them from has changed hands and they are closed for the time being while the change is made.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

It is Passiflora x incarnata. One good culitvar that I just planted is Incense. Hardy to 6a. I'm 5b so as soon as I get some more mulch I will mulch it. There are other hardy cultivars out there too.

I know of some places for seeds but my mind is blank at the moment.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

How about Thompson Morgan or Parks Seed? I've ordered nanner seed from them before, might have to check out the watchdog here at DG for the passies, I did order some from Annie's Seed, (I think it was Annie's)... China Doll.... It's a colocasia? At first I thought maybe it was the Pink China I mentioned above... I've compared, it isn't... here's a pic of P.China, it is hardy to zone 6.. I have an extra pup, I can bring to the RU for ya. LMK-(I'd better start my Fall RU swap list, soon) I think we're going to have a big turn out this year.

Thumbnail by AuntB
Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

So is mine Pink China or China Doll?

Where is the RU this fall?

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

RU is at my grandma's in Odessa. I have threads started for it. :~)

West Plains, MO(Zone 6b)

Wow, those are all great suggestions! Is the China Doll hardy to zone 6?

ALTHEAS! That is one plant we have! We just bought this house in February, and there is a porch all the way across the front with 5 large, tree-shaped altheas in front! I waited with lots of anticipation for the bloom, and it turned out to be gorgeous. Altheas seem to do great in this zone and in the terrible clay soil here. I will have to find a picture of these - I know I took some.......

West Plains, MO(Zone 6b)

Found it!

Thumbnail by ericabelle
NE, KS(Zone 5b)

Dylan, yours must be China Doll, there is no pink stem or pink "dot" on the leaf like there is on the one I posted so ours are different. Ericabelle, THAT is beautiful... yes, I must have some. I've seen them all my life but until you see the blooms up close.... Dylan, hope you make it to the RU!

Mount Vernon, MO(Zone 6b)

Part of my stems are pink, especially on the babies and there is a pink dot in the center. I'll try to get better pics to post. Mine multiplies somewhat like the Black Magic and Illustris, they have runners with new plants at the ends. My regular green EE multiply from the bulb. My dot is not as dark so it may be China Doll. I think the person I got it from said China Doll. Whichever it is I really like it and it's nice to have another "tropical" I don't have to dig up.

Yes they are hardy in Zone 6.

NE, KS(Zone 5b)

Might be same plant.... it gets the runners too. Here in Zone 5, I keep em potted, once I get my "berm" built, I'll experiment with some.

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