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Old 03-28-2008, 08:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

To me, bananas are the stars of the show in the garden for tropical effect. Even before palm-trees.

Can we make an idea-bank here about good companion plants for tropical effect, that won't disturb the bananas as a vocal point, or "steal the show"?

Thanks

Erlend
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Bananas Brindando Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

i like ti plants like red sister, varigated shefflera and copper plants are interesting colors and do very well in 9b and you cant forget plumeria, this next year im trying some gingers i hope.
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

around the base of the nana, you could use solid color hostas, solomons seal, maybe even some perriwinkle( they have 1/2 in to 1 in. purple flowers) ee's, and maybe even crotons. you dont want anything that is going to distract to much from the beauty of your nanas. im having a hard time with this also. i want my landscape to be beautiful. so all the work i did on getting the big bed in front of my house, will not contain my 2 d. oroniocos. it will contain my 2 hcms, and maybe my d. cavadish( might also plant my ponytail palm in the corner next to the house). the reason: i planted a lot of flowering plants,daffies, dalhias, purple and white iris, cannas that are red and yellow, and ee's, and caladium in that bed. so yesterday i decide i will plant my d. oronicos in an unused bed which is in front of the big huge bed. the flowers will be a backdrop for my nanas. i will plant low growing stuff around the base of the nanas, to provide extra insulation for the nanas( to keep the roots cool), and help retain water. i have iris and glads on either sides of where my nanas are going so it will provide some color there, but hopefully will not cause much of a distraction. i think that doing it this way will preserve the beauty of the nanas, and will compliment the surrounding landscape.
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Bromeliads would be a good choice as well as they don't deep root (other than pineapples). Just make sure they're not getting too much sun! That's what I plan on planting at the base of mine in the future! But in zones 9 and below you'd have to winter them in a green house or a sunny window as they are not very cold tollerant. Mine planted in the ground (zone 9b/10a) survived the entire winter, but we only dropped below 0'C three to four times (not consecutive nights either). So in lower zones it might be safer to keep them potted, but it's not too much of a problem to transplant and that would also give you a chance to separate the pups for next years growth!
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Old 03-28-2008, 12:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Alocasias
Gingers
Philodendron Selloum
Clumping bamboo (non invasive)
Palms

For me the difficult part is figuring out what evergreen plants to use. Philo Selloum is evergreen here with a mild winter. And the bamboo and palms are evergreen. Melianthus Major is a wild looking plant also. A Loquat tree is also evergreen and pretty tropical looking.
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

I think people forget that Erland lives in Norway. So i think he would need something a bit cool/cold hardy? And that likes shade to partial shade. How about ferns?
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Here's the view of someone in the tropics.

In the case of Norway: Zingibers (gingers), Loquat, Yucca, cold-hardy Fuchsias like F. boliviana, Crotons, and aroids like Xanthosoma, Monstera, Anthurium and some of the Alocasias. You can probably also pull off the hardier Hibiscus, like Rose of Sharon. Cool-zone orchids like Maxillaria and Epidendrum can be placed in niches on the pstem as long as your humidity is fairly high or if you're committed to misting daily. If you want a showy backdrop, check out Pampas grasses. I've heard of people having luck with Mountain Papaya, the cold-hardy relative to "standard" papayas, as far north as Oslo. You can also go with ferns, but they're not normally found in the same areas as nanners down here, and unless you use your native varieties they will seriously suffer in the wintertime.

In the case of Ms.Kitty: in addition to the ones above you can probably go as far as Coffee, Mountain Papaya (look in Wikipedia under Vasconcella), Heliconiums, terrestrial Bromeliads, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and if you're willing to care for them a bit you can train orchids to go up the pstem when the nannas get bigger - check out the Vanillas for this, since they're pretty low-maintenance. This has the added advantage that once the nannas have fruited you don't have to do more than cut the pstem above the orchids (rather than machete or saw the whole shebang out), since it becomes the support for the flowers. You can also go with Agaves for low contrast, and they're xeriscape plants so you barely need to care for them at all. If the nanners aren't too tall and you're looking for lower-growing stuff, the non-arboreal aroids (Alocasia, Anthurium, and Xanthosoma) are a great alternative, and they've got super-showy leaves.

My fave source for the orchids is Ecuagenera, but I'm biased because I live here and grow Ecuadoran orchids.... The rest of this should be obtainable from garden centers or mail ordered.
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Old 03-28-2008, 01:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by STEELVIPER View Post
I think people forget that Erland lives in Norway. So i think he would need something a bit cool/cold hardy? And that likes shade to partial shade. How about ferns?
This is true, but I believe Erland was stating to make an idea bank in general for anyone.
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Old 03-28-2008, 03:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by southlatropical View Post
For me the difficult part is figuring out what evergreen plants to use. Philo Selloum is evergreen here with a mild winter. And the bamboo and palms are evergreen. Melianthus Major is a wild looking plant also. A Loquat tree is also evergreen and pretty tropical looking.
Have you looked at things like Guava?
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Can't beat bamboo for a wind screen/ backdrop. Bamboo also creates a microclimate where you'll get less frosts than without it.
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Old 03-29-2008, 02:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Thanks for all the great ideas. I am in a cool zone 8 by the way.

I already have a few cordylines, trachycarpus palms, and fatsia japonica. Will definately be putting in some bamboo. What I need now is a bit of colour.

Anyone out there growing tagetes?
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Old 03-29-2008, 06:41 AM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Thanks for the thread.

How about the same suggestion for someone in zone 5b Canada, that wants to create a similar look on the front lawn?
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Old 03-29-2008, 07:13 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Opuntia Humifusa, Tetrapanax, Eucalyptus, Poncirus are also good plants for your zone Erlend.
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Old 03-29-2008, 07:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Garden design: Good companion plants for tropical effect?

Erlend,
What about hardy hibiscus, brugmansia, hardy ginger, colocasia, costus, certain Xanthosomas. I grow all these and they add color in a borderline 7 a/b... Just a couple of ideas. Another plant I like that would probably do better for you than it does for my are the phoriums...
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