I'm thinking Loquat. I need something with bold leaves that can take afternoon sun in dry, hot summer'd Pasadena. This spot is against a fence, sun from 10 to 5, and it really cooks there. I do have a ton of mulch over the earth, but it is the exposure that is the problem. My Tropical Hibiscus are frying there, my Banana can't bear it, so i need something tropical looking that can really handle the heat. I'm looking for something from 6-10 ft. tall or even a bit taller. All suggestions appreciated!
There not to tropical looking, but Mock Orange seem to take the heat and drought. I have a row of them on my one fence that are like 8' tall. On my other fence I am planting Mock Orange and Pineapple Guara, which get pretty red flowers. I am going to plant a row of red salvia in front of my Mock Orange and Red Salvia to stick to a tropical look, at least of bold colors. I am going to put Fusion Orange Zinnias in front of the Red Salvia. This is my planting for this coming weekend. Oh and I am going to mix in Nasturiums for little leaves and bold colors of red, orange and yellow. I'll post a picture when I get it all planted.
Another suggestion maybe Honeysuckle. I think they get pretty big and have orange flowers.
How do cannas fare there? They certainly have the tropical look, and I can attest to their heat-tolerance! Here they die back in the winter, but where you are they may not.
I love loquat, and mine's evergreen (and heavenly fragrance/blooms in the spring---tho' that leads to messy stuff blowing all over). But IMHO it doesn't have that "tropical" look because the leaves are small.
They're not really shrubs, but how about Phormium or Strelitzia? They have a tropical look and I think they can both take the heat. Plumeria could be nice too, although in 9b the hardiness might be a bit iffy if you get a bad winter.
Pittosporum would work there very well, though I would use the undulatum species. Cannas do very well there. I have some orange ones, as a matter of fact, right in front of the space I need a good barrier shrub / tree. The loquat leaves are bigger than the Pittosporum, however, so I may indeed go with that. I agree with imapigeon that they don't have a truly tropical look, but it is because they have sort of crinkly leaves, not the glossy, smooth type most tropicals have.
We have Oleanders out in the hot sun (90's and higher) all summer. They take very little watering and can be shaped to any design. The only problem is that their leaves are poisonous. They come in several different colors too.
I vote Cannas since they will just go nuts over there in the sun and they will spread and always have color. less boring than some other heat loving possibilities. Roses are always a good bet, though not tropical. I would go cl, roses in back and mix with shorter cannas and tall ones so they don't block out the roses. If you need more drought tollerant plants, you did not say so that is my first best suggestion. There are a lot of types of Malva that flower sort of tropical and take little water and self sow, and have many colors and types, that love sun. Also several Cat mint varieties would be nice with some day lilys and coronation gold yarrow, was suggested to me, with any Nepetas.
Cannas will freeze back in the winter, but so will the Cape Honeysuckle. Have you thought of Pomegranates? Mine are heat tolerant. They do loose leaves in the winter, and they fruit on the old wood. The birds around here spread them around. Just a thought.
Pasadena does not freeze, like I do in the high desert of Palmdale/Lancaster and my Cannas all came back and spread except the ones in a soggy planter with poor drainage.
Pomegranates do great here too and we are in a tough zone by all standards.
Loquats would probably be perfect. I know they grow here and our summer heat is worse than yours. They do beautifully, but are not widely planted. Also, figs do beautifully in the dry hot sun here as well as pomegranates. Those should flourish for you too.
Here's what I decided (so far). I bought a small Cape Honeysuckle, that I will allow to layer as the side branches grow. I also ordered nine Pink Beauty Cannas from Park Seed. I already have one large clump of orange ones that I will divide in the winter next year. I created a meandering line of the pink ones, that weaves through the rest of the plantings of Hibiscus, NZ Flax, yucca gigantea, an Archontophoenix palm, and a problem banana. Once the cannas come in, I can move the banana where it will get some shade - right now, it is just cooking in the sun.
The hibiscus have perked up - it turns out that the upper roots were exposed under the thick bark mulch, so I topdressed around the roots with some peat moss, compost, and steer manure. I also gave them some chelated iron to take care of any chlorosis I may have caused by overwatering.
I'll post some pictures in a couple of days, then again when I get the cannas up and running. I love the leaves - and they really love a hot moist bed. With all my mulching materials, that bed does stay surprisingly moist with a weekly deep watering, and occasional supplemental watering for individual plants.