Discover the Best Plants for Tropical Gardens: Our Top Picks

Discover the Best Plants for Tropical Gardens: Our Top Picks

Add a luxurious, resort style to your next landscape design with lush, tropical planting. Not only providing a relaxing oasis, tropical planting can create privacy and a cooling factor in hot summer months.

The key to a tropical design style is combining dramatic, lush foliage with plenty of layering and exotic, bold flowers.

Frame your landscape with tall, lush greenery and combine it with bold colours such as orange, reds, pinks and deep purples. Plants with large, bold leaves such as Heliconias and Strelitzias are ideal for creating a jungle-like feel, especially when combined with foliage in different shapes and sizes.

Tropical inspired gardens are not only restricted to our tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is easy to achieve a tropical theme in the cooler, temperate climate of Victoria with the correct plants.


Cabbage Tree or Cabbage Palm [Cordyline sp.]

Strappy, evergreen plants with glossy, broad leaves in a range of colours, great for adding colour contrast and lushness. The leaves are often variegated, with bold stripes. Prefers a shady, sheltered spot and plenty of water. 

Grows to approx. 30-60cm H x W

Bird of Paradise [Strelitzia reginae]

A striking architectural plant with large, broad green foliage growing up to 1.5m high. The exotic flower heads in orange & blue give the plant its name and bloom for large parts of the year.  Another larger alternative, growing up to 6m is Strelitzia nicolai, boasting giant white flowers.

Grows to approx. 1-2m H x 2-4m W.

Bangalow Palm or King Palm [Archontophoenix cunninghamiana]

Our most popular native palm great for planting in groups as well as a focal point in a tropical themed garden. A tall, narrow, upright palm with a slender, grey trunk and long fronds up to 3m. 

Grows up to 10-25m H x 2-4m W.

Frangipani [Plumeria rubra]

A much loved tree with richly fragrant, exotic looking flowers. The trunk is very distinctive with many knobbly branches. Best suited to tropical and sub-tropical climates but can be grown in warm coastal areas and next to a brick wall in the micro-climate around a house. 

Grows up to 4-10m H x W.

Dwarf Tree Fern [Blechnum gibbum Silver Lady]

A dwarf fern brilliant for adding a lush rainforest look to shady parts of the garden. This tree fern is particularly effective when mass planted and can be planted as an understorey beneath shady trees. Also a great choice for patio pots and the narrow, shady walkways next to a house.

Grows up to 60cm-1m H x W.

Orange Jessamine [Murraya paniculata]

A dense shrub with glossy green leaves and masses of creamy white, highly fragrant flowers in spring & summer. Perfect for providing a lush hedge or screen. Can be used as topiary or in pots and planters.

Grows up to 2-4m H x 1-2m W.

Philodendron Xanadu [Philodendron xanadu]

A popular compact Philodendron with lush, glossy leaves ideal for shady positions. Use in court yards, balconies or plant together with other lush plants such as Bromeliads or Alocasias for a tropical look.  

Grows up to 60cm-1m H x W.

Slender Weaver Bamboo [Bambusa textilis Gracilis]

Perfect for tall screening, this bamboo is shade, cold and coastal tolerant. With a slender trunk it will fit in the most narrow gardens beds creating an effective screen from neighbours and unsightly structures. Non invasive.

Grows up to 4-10m H x 2-4m W.

Resilience Lilly Pilly [Syzygium australis Resilience]

Another ultimate screener, this Lilly Pilly is fast growing with dense, lush, glossy foliage making it ideal for hedging. New growth has an attractive copper shade. Resistant to psyllid pests and other common problems. 

Grows up to 2-4m H x 1-2m W.

Chinese Star Jasmine [Trachelospermum jasminoides]

Popular climber with glossy green foliage and beautifully fragrant star-shaped white flowers. A versatile evergreen that can be used both as a groundcover or climbing up walls and fences hiding ugly structures and softening the landscape. Will quickly create a glossy, beautifully scented green wall. Smells like summer!

Grows up to 2-4m H x W.

Brazilian Jasmine [Mandevilla sp.]

Striking climbers with large, bold, tropical blooms in a range of colours. Train them around a pergola or trellis and watch them grow. ideal for bringing a tropical feel and plenty of colour & lushness to poolside areas and patios. Choose a sunny, protected position. 

Grows up to 1-2m H x 60cm-1m W.

Giant Elephants Ear or Giant Taro [Alocasia macrorrhiza]

Prominent, over-sized, thick and glossy leaves for the ultimate tropical look and wow-factor, Giant Elephant's Ear can grow up to 5m tall and 3.5m wide. Protect from strong winds and grow in a sheltered spot. 

Grows up to 2-4m H x W.

Agave [Agave sp.]

With bold architectural shapes, Agaves add structure, symmetry and an exotic feel to a garden design. Easy to care for with low water requirements, Agaves are popular additions to exotic garden beds and look great both mass planted and in pots. 

Grows up to 1-2 H x 2-4m W.

Giant Bromeliad [Alcantarea sp.]

With thick, leathery foliage in a symmetric shape, Alcantarea create a statement and add instant colour and contrast. A sunnier position will generally result in a more intense colour. Tolerating a range of climates, Giant Bromeliads can grow quite large with Alcantarea Silver Plum growing up to 1.5m H x W. . 

Grows up to 1-2 H x W.

Shell Ginger [Alpinia zerumbet]

With attractive, bright lush foliage Shell Ginger is great used as an accent plant or as an understorey for taller, tropical plants. Some varieties are variegated with beautiful detailing, providing contrast to other greenery.  

Grows up to 2-4m H x W.

Lobster Claw [Heliconia sp.]

Spectacular, bright flower bracts in pink, yellow or red for the ultimate tropical garden look. The attractive, upright lush green foliage is a feature and Heliconias are often mass planted in garden beds or as a tropical, green wall. Fabulous as cut flowers. 

Grows up to 2-4m H x 1-2m W.

Bush Lily or Kaffir Lily [Clivia sp.]

Showy, large trumpet shaped flowers in bright colours such as orange, yellow, cream and red give Clivias a distinct, tropical look.  The flowers add colour contrast and stand out against the dark green, strappy leaves and other greenery. Use for a splash of tropical colour in garden beds. Can be planted under tree canopies and are perfect for dry, shady positions. 

Grows up to 30-60cm H x W.


What do you think of our list of TOP Plants for Tropical Gardens? Have you got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

To find out more about each tropical-style plant and to view availability, pot sizes and pricing, simply click on the plant image or the plant name. Remember you will need to be a registered trade customer to shop with us. To sign up, click here.

Plantmark has 7 convenient locations:

MELB > Langwarrin Wantirna Thomastown Werribee
SYD > Vineyard  

BRIS > Willawong 

GOLD COAST > Carrara

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