Try Musa basjoo (Japanese banana) which is the hardiest and can withstand down to around -8°C (18°F). It may lie dormant underground in winter.
Fatsia japonica (False Castor Oil Plant)
Looks tropical but actually very hardy - mine survived -18°C in the garden last winter (although young plants I had of this did die)
Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm)
Very hardy - can even withstand down to around -15°C (5°F). Mine died last winter (-18°C), though it had survived 6 or 7 previous winters, some of which were very cold, although not quite to those levels!
Chamerops humilis (Mediterranean Dwarf Fan Palm)
Can withstand down to around -10°C (14°F). Mine died right back, but did survive underground last winter see it, here...
Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm)
Pretty hardy - down to around -8°C (18°F) - but may require winter protection to survive.
Yucca filamentosa and Yucca gloriosa (Yuccas)
Can tolerate down to around -15°C (5°F)
Cordyline australis (Cabbage Palm or Torbay Palm)
Reasonably hardy but may not survive cold winters - mine didn't! Tolerates down to around -8°C (18°F)
Dicksonia antarctica (Tasmanian Tree Fern)
Hardy to around -5°C (23°F) or colder, but you should protect from frost around the trunk and crown with straw or fleece.
Dicksonia squarrosa is frost tender - so protect carefully from frost!
Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax)
Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) In a contemporary setting
Hardy down to around -5°C (23°F). Mine didn't survive last winter - unsurprisingly!
Most (but not all) are hardy. All mine have survived the winter! Try:
Phyllostachys (especially Phyllostachys nigra - Black bamboo)
Nandina domestica (Sacred bamboo)
Very hardy - down to around -20°C (-10°F). Likes moist spots and needs a lot of space but will reward you with huge 'jungly-looking' leaves.
Also try Gunnera tinctoria which is hardy down to around -15°C (5°F) and a little smaller than the Gunner manicata above.
Hardy down to around -8°C (18°F) - although may need winter protection, and variegated forms are less hardy.
More Tropical Garden Plants
Infill in your garden with tropical-looking planting - anything with large, lush, unsually shaped or colored foliage will work well, to create the tropical garden design look for you...
Ricinus (Castor Oil Plant - tender - protect over winter)
Brightly colored or flamboyant flowers can really help give that essential tropical garden feel...
Canna Lily (protect over winter)
Brugmansia and Datura (protect over winter)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Hedychium (Ginger Lily - protect over winter)
Eremerus (Foxtail Lily)
Passiflora caerulea (Passion Flower - may require winter protection)
The Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia)
One beautiful tropical flower I think you really must include is the stunning 'Bird of Paradise Plant' (Strelitzia) - pictured above - it's not hardy, but keep it as a house-plant over-winter and bring it outside into your garden for its summer holidays!
You will also find there are lots of gorgeous house plants that you can use in your tropical garden design over Summer, and bring indoors when it's turns cold.
A tropical garden design is really all about the plants, but if you take a bit of care with your hard landscaping, design and accessories, too, you'll get the look just right!
Informal style (although formal can work well too - particularly for contemporary styles)
No large open areas
Plant closely together - 'full' planting
Narrow, winding paths, for a true jungle feel.
Hard Landscaping and Finishing Touches
Use natural materials:
Bamboo is excellent as a hard landscaping material to design a tropical garden - use bamboo screening, or strap large bamboo poles together to make structures...
We created a small tropical verandah off our shed, with 2 tall and thick bamboo poles as uprights, and rush matting as the roof (held up with a wooden frame) and bamboo screening as walls...
...a lovely wicker chair beneath, and the scene is set for hours of peaceful comtemplation in the garden...!
Don't overdo the bamboo, though - too much means you run the risk of creating something too themed and tacky - here, less is more...
Go for a suggestion, rather than looking like a bamboo warehouse, and concentrate on plants to bring the tropical style.
Look out for hard wood (teak) garden and patio furniture, or wicker furniture for your tropical garden design...
You can now get wicker-look patio sets, that are actually made of plastic - so these are perfect for withstanding a spot of tropical rain!
Include a small, simple water feature somewhere - a large pond is not so suitable for this style, but the sound of running water, or a bubbling fountain, really complements your tropical garden design perfectly.
A few carefully chosen accessories will be the perfect finishing touch...
Although the overall look is decidedly 'tropical', try not to mix too many different styles together - for example, choose 'Balinese' or 'Caribbean', but not both...
...and add a few beautiful accessories from just one tropical style, accordingly, to keep it simple and stylish.
eBay is a great place to search for accessories for your tropical garden design look, that you might not find in your normal garden centers and stores...
This is a live feed, direct from eBay and is constantly updated...
Simply click on a product to see more details, or to bid or buy...
Hope you find a tropical treasure!
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It's quite easy to design a tropical garden, with a little extra research into which plants give the look, but can still survive in colder climates...
...and the results will be well worth it, when you are able to lose yourself in your very own tropical jungle!
And what a stunning garden to astound all the neighbors! They'll definitely be thinking you've a green thumb, with all those tropical garden plants surviving the winter!
I hope you have fun with your tropical garden designs!