Tropical analogies of non-tropicals

By Kristi VanBenschoten

Sometimes different can be better

When I first started working at Top Tropicals eight years ago I knew nothing about plants. I didn’t even know which ones I liked. Over the first few months I took in information on plants like I was a starving kitten who had just gotten its first meal in weeks....

Using our Top Tropicals online plant catalog I was able to see plants from all over the world and learn all about them too.

What I started to notice was that the plants I tended to gravitate to were more cold weather plants. Plants that couldn’t be grown in the hot summers in Florida, and vines. Seemed like everything I set my sites on was a large vine or couldn’t grow in the heat...

Many of our local customers are from up North as well and are used to these colder weather plants too. This got me thinking, I wonder how many of these people are missing the plants they grew up knowing and loving. I know there are at least a few from the conversations I have had with some of you at the nursery. So, I decided to make a list of a few of the plants that will grow here that are similar but not the same and, in some instances, even better!

Dombeya x wallichii - Tropical Hydrangea and Dombeya seminole - Tropical Rose Hydrangea. Yes, you read that correctly. Hydrangea in Florida. These are winter bloomers so even if you are a snow bird you can enjoy the light pink and fuchsia blooms! There is even one with fragrant flowers: Dombeya burgessiae - Fragrant White.

If you are missing the Wisteria from back home, the Petrea racemosa - Royal Queens Wreath and the Petrea volubilis - Queens Wreath boast cascading clusters of purple flowers. With the bonus that it is not invasive like the wisteria.

In place of the hosta here we have the Alocasia and Colocasia. Picture the Hosta on steroids! With so many different choices of Alocasia and Colocasia you'll be saying "what's a Hosta?" - in no time.

Crocosmia - Coppertips Grass, Falling Stars - is like a Day lily's little brother. They are great no fuss plants with a much more delicate look that makes a great background plant much like a Day Lily.

Up north they have Bearded Iris. Here in Florida we have just as great tropical irises that will bloom year round! Neomarica caerulea - Iris Regina, Neomarica gracilis - African Iris and Neomarica longifolia - Yellow Walking Iris are lovely choices.

These are just a few to help replace the plants you may be used to growing in colder climates, but there are so many more. Give our customer service team a call and we can help with your selections.

My next story will be about vines - my other favorites!