"Making gardening a joy Filled Adventure"

Fun with TropicalsIf you can't slip away to a tropical location whenever you want, why not bring the tropics to your own backyard?

Most people are afraid of tropical plants because:

  • too difficult
  • too much work
  • lack of available knowledge
  • plant accessibility

What you should know:

  • most tropicals adapt to shady or sunny locations
  • with the right care, they are easy to grow
  • they have few pests
  • they produce many offspring
  • they are fast growers

Many varieties of elephant ears and banana trees can be treated as perennials. Mulching is the key factor to your success. After the first frost, cut back just above the ground. Place 4-6" of mulch on and around the stump. When the ground warms up in the spring, simply pull the mulch back. Be patient. Tropicals love the heat and will begin to sprout mid to late May. When you start seeing sprouts, feed the plants and watch them grow.

For storing bulbs, begin after the first frost by cutting off the foliage just above the ground. Then dig the bulbs. Shake or wash off the dirt. Let the bulbs dry completely for 7-10 days. Store in a cool, dry place where they will not freeze. Suggested places are a basement, closet, garage, etc.

When planting season rolls around, soak the bulbs for 2-3 days in water before you plant. This will give them a head start!

Tropical Pests


start with a strong blast of water to wash them off and follow-up with garlic spray.

Garlic Tonic

Mince 1 garlic bulb and mix with 1 cup vegetable oil. Pour into a glass jar with a tight lid. Keep refrigerated, steeping for 1-2 days. Strain out the solids, Return to refrigerator in clean glass jar with a tight lid.

Garlic Spray

Mix 1 tablespoon Garlic Tonic with 3 drops lemon dish liquid into quart water. Mix in blender or shake well in sprayer.



  • 1 cup sour milk (2 Tbs Vinegar added to I cup milk)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 quart warm water

Mix well and pour into sprayer. Spray the plant being careful to spray the underside of the leaves.

Japanese Beetles

the following recipe is effective because the peppermint cuts through the waxy shell on the beetles, the soap gets in and kills the beetle.

Peppermint spray

  • 2 Tbs dishwashing liquid
  • 2 Tsp peppermint oil
  • 1 gal warm water

Mix well and spray.

Hot Pepper Spray

  • 1/2 cup dried cayenne peppers
  • 1/2 cup jalapeno peppers
  • 1 gal water

Bring to a boil, let simmer 1/2 hour. Keep covered, steam will burn your eyes. let it cool. Strain the solids. Ready to use in sprayer. You will need to reapply after a rain.

Instant Insecticide

  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 quart water

Mix and spray. Preferrably not in the hot sun.

Following are perennials to mix and match for a tropical feel with minimal care.

  • Abelia
  • Althea or Rose of Sharon
  • Azalea/Rhododendron
  • Bamboo, golden, black, giant reed
  • Banana, Dwarf Cavendish, Japanese fiber, Rojo
  • Buckthorn
  • ButterfIy bush
  • Canna lillies
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Crapemyrtle
  • Daylillies
  • Elephant ears, old fashion varieties
  • Ferns
  • Ginger, hardy
  • Grasses, maiden, pampas, zebra, etc
  • Helleborus, winter rose
  • Hibiscus, hardy
  • Hosta
  • Hydrangea
  • Japanese Maple
  • Lillies, asiatic and oriental
  • Liriope
  • Magnolia
  • Nandina