Mid Atlantic Tropicals

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Let's see what Tropical Plants you are growing. Some talk about how best to grow them and later how best to overwinter them in our Mid-atlantic climate.
Truly Tiny Banana, OSP and verbena. The Truly Tiny is only to get about 2 ft tall. It was almost that big when I bought it so we will see how tall it is come fall.

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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I want one of these.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Love the pink and chartreuse.

Plumeria, EE's banana, brugs- these are in my history if not my expertise. Eagerly hoping my Plumeria will bloom this year. I have it planted in ground. Last year in pot did not thrive.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

BTW Sally that is my Terra Cotta Pipe.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh, very cool. I'll have to browse the brick/ concrete place one day.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

The only tropical I have is a Plumeria 'Duke' from Chantell. It is leafing out nicely from the winter dormancy. I haven't done much research on how to grow these, but I need to see what I should be doing to get it to bloom.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Do caladiums count?
They are just opening now

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

OK! I will play a Devil's Advocate here a bit......

WHAT exactly IS a "TROPICAL"???

In our Greenhouse at work--and many others--there are a good amount of plants---all loosely refereed to
as "Tropicals". As in: "Need to water the "Tropicals"...SO--"tropicals" is another word for Houseplants?

As in--they are not grown outside. They need less light. They are not planted in flower beds. They do not survive
the winters outside--they have products strictly aimed at them as "Houseplant Fertilizers"...."Insect killers"...

Many available houseplants ARE "tropicals"--Palms--Bromiliads--Orchids--Alocasias--some Ferns--
Christmas cactus--Anthuriums--Gingers--Hoyas--Epis--Clivias?? Plants in the "Orchid cactus Family"
Brazilian Plume Flower?--Camellias---etc....

Are Brugs and Daturas "tropicals"? How about Bananas? How about the many Philodendrons?

Are "tropicals" defined as plants that thrive in the warmer zones? Plants that do not require to be taken in for the winter?
Does that make them a tropical???

If I was more awake--I could think of many other examples, BUT--I have been up since 4AM---Store Meeting....

Perhaps--as part of this new Thread--we could have people express their opinions on what IS a "Tropical"....

I know I have many "tropicals"--but is that true? What defines a "tropical".....

Food for thought. Gita

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Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Yeah OK Gita, point taken!

I think the thread was opened with Bananas and EEs in mind, so maybe its Exotic tropicals.
The Brazilian plume seems to like our recent tropical weather.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I just wanted to know if a picture of the many plants I have would be an appropriate one
to post here--or not--as a tropical.
Like--I am often accused of "highjacking" a Thread. Trying to be considerate.....

I am not even sure, in my own mind, what is considered a real "tropical"?????
SO--I asked...............:o)


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I quite often wonder over that same question myself. I think of them as plants that grow in Zones 8/9 and above that are not succulents. But I also think of plants like the Hardy Banana as Tropical even though it might with the right care overwinter in my Zone 6. Then I wonder about plants that I think of as Annuals are they Tropical and where would the line between tropical and annuals fall. Also Houseplants, are all my house plants tropicals? What about African Violets would they be considered tropical? I must look up some definitions of Tropical and see what they say.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

In my mind it is the huge leaves of banana and EE etc that scream Tropical- but then I mentioned plumeria and Brugs too
; ^)
How bout- the things that grow like aliens in hot weather? Then go dormant or die and have to be overwintered that way.

I'm not calling the Thread Police
; ^)

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I think of tropicals of plants that will not overwinter here but can grow year round in CA, FL or HI

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Any plants that grow in the Tropic or Sub Tropic zones are givens. I think there are other plants that we don't think of as tropicals that probably are and maybe plants that we think of as tropical that aren't. Your plumeria is definitely a tropical and I would think the Brugs are and the Brazilian plume flower comes from Brazil which is also definitively in the tropic zone. I didn't think of Cannas as tropical but I see them featured in the Tropical Forums all the time so that made me wonder about those as well.
I'm not calling the thread police either. I was thinking we would expand to any plants that you think would fit into this thread. I was going to include some of my water plants.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I would def consider cannas as tropical

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

So do I now, but at the time I just never really thought of them as tropical, since some of them will over winter just south of our zone 6 I didn't think of them that way but I do now. The Brugs and Brazilian Plume Flowers I got from Gita at the swap are doing very well.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Do you have a pic of that Brazilian Plume flower?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

but Gita may have pics of hers last year.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Woooooowhooooo MY kinda thread....let the sniffin' and discussions begin....Plumies, Brugs, Jasmines, tuberoses and least we forget our citrus friends.....whaaaawhoooo. Course I've gotta a couple weeks before I'll have pics of those pretties.

re Plumerias - stand a better chance (never knew till recently...should've though...ugh) - at getting blooms if you keep them a bit above dormant during winter. LOTS of bottom heat now (put em on blacktop) - good soakings of water and feed well - now is the time. Put those babies in full sun...they'll thank you for it. And good golly if I gave it to you...please check it for being rootbound. I'm horrible at that and they all needed to be potted up.

Chantell's definition of 'tropical' - if I've gotta over winter its happy but INSIDE - I consider it tropical

This message was edited Jun 24, 2012 11:23 PM

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Chantell, thanks for those tips! I somehow managed the less than dormant thing this year so that's a plus for me. And I'll be giving her comfrey tea!!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Someone in this other thread mentioned cooking with banana leaves.

I'd love to try this out!

I have a dwarf cavendish:

It's loving this heat and humidity!

How do I harvest the leaves? What kind of recipes have you used to cook with them?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Here are 3 pictures I have that are pretty good.

The stems are thin and woody. Kind of fragile....This time of year--as it gets closer
to blooming--the stems thicken up a bit--about as thick as a pencil.

One year, the wind blew my big pot over and all the stems broke off.
The following year--it re-grew nicely. AHA! I think pruning it back is good???

Last year--following up on that thought--I cut it back and rooted all the cuttings.
Those are the ones I shared at Holly's Swap.

Just learned this past year--that this plant prefers some shade. Who woulda thought?

The below pictures are from 2007.

edited to add that removing the spent blooms encourages more of them.

This message was edited Jun 25, 2012 6:55 AM

Thumbnail by Gitagal Thumbnail by Gitagal Thumbnail by Gitagal
Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the pictures Gita, Jen isn't it beautiful?
I have one of the plants in a pot in the shade garden by the Potting Shed. The other one is still inside I need to pot it up and move it outside.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Yes it's is very pretty

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I repotted the plumeria from Chantell when I got it. It is sitting on the blacktop part of the driveway, in full sun, and has been getting plenty of water, so good news - other than letting it go in to complete winter dormancy, I've stumbled on to doing mostly the right things. I still need to fertilize and then sit back and see what it does this summer.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Quote from aspenhill :
I've stumbled on to doing mostly the right things.

Lol, Terri, me, too! That's why I am so reluctant to depart from 'what works for me'. It is when what has been working stops working that throws me for a loop.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

For any of you who like really big leaved elephant ears (Holly) check out this offer from LariAnn a premium aroid breeder in our own DG classifieds:


"This is an exceptional offer for you on my newest Alocasia release. This plant is a cross of Alocasia odora and Alocasia robusta, so you know it has the genes to grow big!.I have these now in 4" pots but a foot or more tall with thick corms at the sale price of 2 for $25 (minimum order 2) plus $12 shipping/handling.

Payment is via PayPal - you may contact me through Dave's Garden or by emailing me at [email protected]

Don't miss this opportunity because when my remaining stock for sale is gone, it's gone!"

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Whoa those are HUGE

Just bought this Mandevilla, needed to fill in a spot for the summer where my clematis got eaten

This message was edited Jun 26, 2012 9:20 PM

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Never seen a white mandevilla! Especially--with those "leathery leaves".

I always get one of the pink ones----Love--Love them!!!
Too bad they are annuals.....

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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

WOW Thanks Coleup. I wonder how big they would get during our growing season?
I know LariAnn, I believe she designed my Portadora Alocasia.
BTW, I should have extra bulbs from the Portadora to give away either this fall or next spring. They have really grown well for me.
Jen and Gita how pretty. I overwintered mine from last year and it looks good but no blooms yet.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Holly--HOW did you overwinter it??? Inside---or outside?

They DO have massive root systems! I have tried--but the plant is dead as a
doornail the next year....SO--I blow $20 for a new one each spring.
It is worth it to me. One of the high points in my garden....

I grows, happily, on my kitchen side wrought iron railing and trellis provided.
I NEVER use that door! Too many shelves of plants inside to use it.....:o)

2--The unused side entrance----a great place for W-Boxes....
I also, usually, have either Cardinal Climber or some other vine to climb on all the railings...
Gets pretty colorful!

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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Gita that look so very pretty.
We bring the Mandevilla inside and let it go semi dormant. We give it a little bit of water from time to time. Probably much like you do the Brugs.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I've got the Mandevilla pot my MIL grew last summer... massive roots, and they're still green when scratched, but it got hit with at least one light frost before I got my hands on it, so my expectations are low. I've planted basil around the edges of the pot and put another pot on a short stand over the center... if/when the Mandy sprouts, I should be able to see it...

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

The Mandevilla is soooo pretty. I probably should go get one. I have just the right trellis for supporting it. We built the trellis for a clematis which we half killed during the construction fo the trellis :-).

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Love this thread! I think a climate has to be zone 11a and higher to be considered "officially" tropical. In the SE US, zone 8a - 10b is considered semi-tropical. Even Miami can occasionally have temps dip into the 30's, and on one night back in the early '70's, Miami received a coating of snow - something that could never happen in a tropical climate.

It's still fun to go for a tropical inspired look. I incorporate my houseplants in my ornamental gardens during the warm season. I lived in the Phila region for many years, and I regret that I didn't grow needle and sabal minor palms. If I had seen them marketed, I definitely would have given them a try. Just curious, are any of the big box stores marketing these cold hardy palms in Washington, Baltimore, Phila, and mid Atlantic shore towns?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Our HD had hardy palms early on--like in April.

I really did not care for them. They were short, scraggly looking and had some
kind of thorns on them. Not pleasant totouch at all.


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I was checking out my Mandevilla this morning and I see a few buds. WHOOPIE!
I sure hope my Sky Blue Vine blooms.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I wish I had room to bring mine in.
I finally found the white one at the 3rd garden center I went to, I needed white to fit in with the garden I was putting it in

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Jen My Dad overwinters his in his basement. just takes it down there an stops watering it. Goes down about once a month and gives it just a little drink.
So here is one of the little groupings by the front of the GH. Big pot has a Croton, Asparagus fern, Verbena. There is one on each side of the walk.

Thumbnail by HollyAnnS
central, NJ(Zone 6b)

we don't have a basement

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