Create A Tropical Paradise in your Backyard with These Plants

By Chris Edmunds

Build a relaxing tropical paradise retreat in your own backyard with these beautiful plants.
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When we think tropical paradise, we often envision a jungle or a rainforest—hot sun, warm air, maybe a hammock under the trees. We long to be surrounded by lush greenery, palm trees, colorful flowers, and maybe some freshly blended Piña Coladas!

Why not bring that tropical oasis feeling home with you? With a few choice plants, you can recreate a tropical getaway, right in your backyard!   

tropical-paradise-kaw-valley-header.jpgThere are a few key ideas to keep in mind when designing your tropical paradise in your backyard. Rainforests and tropical destinations often have very vibrant and fragrant flowers, but they're also loaded with dense greenery. There are so many different textures in tropical plants, so look for a few different unique specimens to blend together.

Here are a few of our Kaw Valley Favorites to add to your tropical backyard paradise. 

Hardy Hibiscus 

Hibiscus is a tropical classic, and luckily enough, these Hardy Hibiscus varieties are winter hardy to zone 4! That means we can enjoy those bright green leaves, bright-colored flowers, and exotic tropical vibes year after year. We have Hardy Hibiscus available in Luna Red (a deep crimson), Luna Rose (a brilliant pink), and Luna Swirl (which has stripes of pink and white). 

Canna Lily 

tropical-paradise-kaw-valley-canna-lily.jpgCanna Lilies give you height, lush exotic-looking flowers in a variety of colors, and beautiful large dark green leaves. Cannas are popular with hummingbirds as well! Cannas flower all season long and don't require deadheading, so they're pretty easy to grow. Unfortunately, they aren't winter hardy, so you can grow them as an annual, or you can dig up the bulbs and store them over the winter. 

Egyptian Papyrus

Egyptian Papyrus is a gorgeous ornamental grass with a striking tropical flair. It grows up to 6 feet tall and features feathery palm like tops that add texture and structure to any planting, in pots, or the ground, or in a water feature. One thing to note is that Papyrus does get very root bound, and it can be challenging to remove the rootball at the end of the summer if the container tapers in and gets narrower at the top. 

Painted Nettle Coleus

tropical-paradise-kaw-valley-coleus.jpgColeus features unique foliage in a rainbow electric shades—they're a "must-have" for containers! This Painted Nettle Coleus has bright copper-rust orange leaves. This Coleus can grow up to 2 feet tall and nearly as wide. Its bright color makes a statement against a backdrop of lush greens. 


Ferns are common in humid, shady areas, and they add a softer, finer, more delicate texture to the larger tropical leaves. Foxtail ferns, in particular, feature bright green upright fronds that are bushy (like a foxes tail!) and covered in delicate little leaves. Asparagus fern features cascading fronds, again with tiny leaves, but less densely packed foliage. It is a slightly darker, richer green than the Foxtail. Both Foxtail and Asparagus ferns make great houseplants, so you can move them inside and continue to enjoy them after summer. 

African Milk Tree

tropical-paradise-kaw-valley-african-milk-tree.jpgAfrican Milk Tree Royal Red is a unique and striking variety of Euphorbia. This succulent-type plant features tall cactus-like stems with small round leaves in a shade of bright red. In its native environment, it can reach heights up to 9 feet tall. African Milk Tree makes an excellent houseplant as well. 


The lush blooms of begonias, with their broad, dark green leaves, exude tropical style. With so many colors to choose from, you can add any tropical color you prefer. These lower-growing flowers add depth and richness to a tropical planting scheme. You can go for lush and exotic double blooms, like Rise Up Sansibel Peach, or the Begonia I'conia Upright Fire, with its classic single blossoms, set off by nearly black leaves. 

A Lush Backyard Paradise

One of the main things to keep in mind when making your backyard tropical paradise is how densely plants grow in tropical rainforests. To achieve that rainforest feel, you'll want your planting in both beds and containers to be fairly close together, to provide the feeling of being enveloped by tropical canopy and forest. 

Last but not least, the sound of trickling water truly brings a tropical oasis together! Add a water feature, large or small, to bring it all together.

Whatever you need for your backyard paradise, you'll find it at one of our garden center locations! Bring the tropics home this summer, and enjoy a getaway without leaving home.




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