Any gardener knows that common sense advises against growing things that aren’t hardy for your zone in your zone. I know of many gardeners, myself included who just won’t accept that, and the only way we’ll know that it isn’t possible to grow them in non-hardy zones is by experimenting just to see what happens. How then can a typical gardener bring the tropics into their home or garden to create a beautiful paradise?
Dwarf cannas can be grown in pots. The taller varieties can be grown in non-hardy zones, but it is necessary to dig them out of the ground before the first frost. Because of the shorter growing season, cannas may not multiply at the rate at which they do when they are left in the ground.
All but the tallest or gigantic elephant ears can be grown in pots. Even in hardy zones, they do go dormant, so it will only be necessary for the gardener to bring the pot indoors prior to cold temperatures. Since they do multiply, it is necessary to dig the pups out of the pot. Sometimes they will have roots prior to digging up, but more often than not, they won’t have a well developed root system. I root my elephant ear pups in plastic solo cups.
I use a soil mixture that’s designed for moisture control. I cut horizontal slits at the bottom of the solo cups. These slits will allow the roots to grow through, making it easier to know when to transplant. The slits also allow the pups to absorb moisture from the bottom up. That ensures that the entire cup remains evenly moist.
Brugmansias or Angel Trumpets can also be grown in pots. Although there are dwarf varieties, all varieties can be grown in pots. Because they won’t tolerate sub-freezing temperatures, it is necessary to bring them indoors – or keep them indoors all year around. Brugmansias need to receive a lot of water. Since they produce so many flowers at one time, it is necessary to fertilize them with a bloom boosting fertilizer every couple of weeks.
Plumerias and Desert Roses are very tropical plants. They won’t tolerate low temperatures below 60 degrees. Desert Roses are small enough to be ideally suited to pot growing. They are easy to start from seed.
Plumerias tend to be more difficult to grow. Both plumerias and desert roses have shallow roots, so they should be watered infrequently. During the growing season, plumerias will do best when fed about 1/2 cup of Epsom salts every other week. They also benefit from fertilizing. Because they are watered so infrequently, it’s best to use a water