Yes, You Can Create Your Own Tropical Paradise Here in the UK!
After enjoying many holidays abroad in hot countries, I
wondered if it was possible to grow tropical plants here in the UK and then, just perhaps, on a hot sunny day
(I know, it doesn't happen often!) I could feel like I was right there in a beautiful tropical
Besides, I also enjoy the challenge of growing plants and palms that
perhaps shouldn't be able to grow here in the UK at all, or at least the majority of people wouldn't believe
could actually grow here in our temperate climate!
In fact, as you become
more familiar with the hobby of growing tropical
plants, it becomes evident that there are a surprising number of
tropical and exotic plants and palms that can be grown here and perhaps surprisingly, quite a number
that can survive a typical UK winter.
One thing that will really help you to succeed with tropical plants and palms is
to learn a little about their native environment. By re-creating as much as is possible, the right conditions for
your plants, you will get the very best out of
Not all are completely hardy and many may
have to be protected or kept somewhere frost free during the winter. As you can imagine, frost is the number one
enemy for tropical plants and palms.
Musa Basjoo Banana
The Musa Basjoo banana plant for instance, will survive
outside during winter, but if you want it to continue growing taller the following year, you need to
protect the trunk from frost by wrapping in garden fleece or hessian
(I use old potato sacks) or straw packed around the trunk and held in place by a chicken wire 'tube'. Even
when protected, it's a hit and miss affair as to how much, if any, of the trunk will come through the winter but
that's part of the challenge! If you choose not to protect it, then the stems will die off in the frost and it will
simply grow again from ground level in spring and can typically achieve a height of around 5 feet or more in one
By contrast, the red abyssinian banana or Ensete Maurelii (pictured right) will not survive in the
ground at all during winter and must be lifted and left quite dry, in a frost-free place over
There are a few palms too that will survive and thrive
in the UK climate, The best known palm that withstands our winter weather is the
Trachycarpus Fortunei or chusan palm - more and more of these are popping up in UK gardens now. Originating in
China , this is the hardiest of palms for the UK climate and can in theory, tolerate up to -15C when mature! Also,
the only true European palm, the Chamaerops Humilis which doesn't grow very tall and has a more 'bushy' habit is
almost as frost tolerant as the Chusan palm.
Although not a true palm tree, are also
another good choice. Many of these thrive particularly in coastal locations in the south and southwest of the
country and create a truly exotic feel.
Recent harsh winters have killed off many of these in large parts of the UK
that had been growing and thriving for many years. It's not all doom and gloom though, as many of these 'sprout'
again from around the original trunks that have been killed off - we just have to hope for milder winters in the
future for them to achieve a good size again!
Other Tropical Plants :
plants are another exotic plant that is very easy to grow here although the rhizomes are best
lifted and stored frost-free in winter but can be planted out again in spring once the last of the frosts are over.
They will delight you with a beautiful display of flowers right through the summer months and often on into early
November depending on the weather!
There are many more plants to consider and I've only mentioned a very few here, so do have a
look at the menu links on the left for more information and
advice on individual tropical plants and palms and I will continue to add new pages and information as time
Wishing you the very best in creating your own tropical garden,
Our gardening and grounds maintenance