Tropical plants bloom in warm climates, generally on or near the equator. Most are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness 10 and above, although some sub-tropical plants will tolerate slightly cooler winters in zone 9. In cooler climates, many tropical plants can be grown as annuals. You can also grow potted tropicals for summer and bring them in for the winter when nights drop below 50 F. (10 C.), or grow potted tropical plants as houseplants year-round.
These versatile plants produce unique blooms that provide an exotic touch to tropical centerpieces, and are also ideal for colorful tropical flower arrangements. Here are a few suggestions to pique your interest.
Tropicals for Summer Centerpieces and Flower Arrangements
Whether on a table or grown in containers around the patio or porch, here are some great choices for potted tropical plants that will add an exotic touch to your summertime spaces.
- Violetas africanas (Saintpaulia) – African violets are native to higher elevations in tropical eastern Africa. The fuzzy leaves and bright blooms make them perfect for exotic tropical centerpieces.
- Amarilis (Hippeastrum) – Native to South Africa, amaryllis works well in tropical centerpieces and tropical flower arrangements. It can be grown indoors year round, or move it indoors in fall.
- Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum) – Also known as flamingo flower or tallflower, anthurium is indigenous to the rain forests of Central and South America. The showy blooms are spectacular in tropical centerpieces.
- AVE del Paraiso (Strelitzia reginae) This tropical or sub-tropical plant can tolerate occasional light frost. It is generally easier to grow than most tropicals. Many do well indoors, but check the species first, as some bird of paradise plants get too tall for containers.
- Lirio de sangre (Scadocus multiflorus) – This plant comes primarily from the Arabian Peninsula and sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as football lily, blood lily flowers provide a ball of bright color to tropical centerpieces or cut-flower arrangements.
- Flor de pasion azul (Passiflora caerulea) – A member of a huge family of subtropical and tropical plants, some passion flowers can be found growing as far west as Texas and Missouri. This plant is worth a try indoors, but the vines are vigorous.
- Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) – Native to South America, this vine is valued for the masses of colorful, papery blooms that work beautifully in tropical flower arrangements. If you live in a cold climate, grow bougainvillea as an annual or bring it indoors when temperatures drop in autumn.
- Clivia (Clivia miniata) – Also known as bush lily, clivia is native to South Africa. It is rugged and easy to grow as an indoor plant, but can also be grown outdoors in zone 9 and above.