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Caring For Tropical Flowers

Red Anthurium

All about caring for Tropical Flowers (when you live in a non-Tropical climate zone)

tropical-flowersThanks to the modern miracle of mass shipping and commerce it’s common to find items, flora and fauna within one’s local reach that might have originated from thousands of miles away. Naturally, this applies to our topic at hand, tropical flowers, more than most things. The simple fact of the matter is that these plants just seem to really “stick out”, albeit in the best way possible. When comparing them with all the varieties you’d typically find around it’s just not hard to see something special in them, which again is probably what grants them so much attention (not to mention the wild colours and florid shapes, of course). Chances are, you’re reading this from a climate zone which isn’t particularly ideal for tropical flowers, which means that you’ll need special information concerning how to care them. That’s the purpose of this article – to help familiarize you with the various ways to care for tropical flowers (in a non-tropical climate zone)…

Learn everything you need to know about your plant(s)
As with anything else flower or gardening-related, before you even bring your plants home you should have already learned everything about them, if possible. At the very least one should figure out all the specifics – how much light they’re supposed to receive, how much water, what types of soil best suit them, etc. For example, canna and bougainvillea are known to be extremely eager for up to six hours or more of direct contact with sunlight, while caladiums might require both intense shade and light (although in smaller amounts). These types of flowers likely evolved from situations largely dependent on the layout of the jungle / forest they sprang from, for instance.

Typically speaking, certain varieties of tropical flowers tend to grow in very specific places in their native habitats. Again, it’s extremely helpful to know this information, especially if you plan on planting year after year and/or want to create a very impressive and colourful layout around your home, for instance. These days, a lot of the tropical flowers you’ll receive will be grown in farms or greenhouses, but that really doesn’t change the fact that they need extra special care and attention. Yet another interesting facet of tropical flowers is that many species don’t actually have a “growing season”, they tend to bloom and grow continuously, which again adds greatly to their overall appeal.

Is your area warm enough for outside display?
Red AnthuriumFirst and foremost, you really can’t expect to have most types of tropical flowers outside around your home if you don’t live in a relatively warm locale. Typically speaking, residents of a US territory like Florida stand well in this regard, basically getting warm temps throughout the year and so forth. This isn’t to say that there aren’t workarounds, because that’s exactly why a lot of growers tend to place their plants in planters – which allow them to be brought inside during the night fairly easily when there’s inclement weather afoot. Simply put, if you’re not hitting the high 70’s, 80’s or 90’s during the day at all, you’re going to have problems when it comes to cultivating tropical flowers in your area. Moreover, some types of tropical flowers, like orchids, for example, like to have a day to night fluctuation of around 10 to 15 degrees. Clearly, managing such an operation and being able to keep track of all the specifics required by all of your different plants isn’t always easy unless you’ve already brought them inside full-time.

The triumphant trilogy of tropical care – light, humidity and temperature
As you might expect, light, humidity and temperature remain the most relevant factors when it comes to caring for tropical plants. Yes, it’s important to know when and if you need to add mulch to that plant (which helps to retain moisture and so forth), but the three above factors remain much more vital in terms of everyday maintenance. Obviously, if your climate is appropriate it’s only a matter of sticking them somewhere outside that’s prone to receive lots of sunlight. However, if they mostly have to remain indoors (and you don’t have a greenhouse) then installing some type of lighting system in one or more rooms might be worth investigating. Quite obviously, most conventional growers aren’t going to create an advanced set-up in their home, perhaps opting for placement during the day near large windows instead, etc.

tropical-flowers 2Humidity is also of grave important although it is often overlooked. Naturally, one’s home isn’t exactly the best place to foster the exact sort of humidity you’d need for tropical plants, but there are things you can do to compensate. Firstly, you can just opt to use a humidifier wherever you have plants sitting. Quite obviously this is an ideal solution which directly confronts the issue, but there are other solutions too. Some people like to place pebbles in their trays and planters. Naturally, this is a very cost effective and simply solution that works for lots of different varieties, but it isn’t always universally ideal either. Grouping all of your tropical plants together is an even simpler way of increasing humidity, and that can be supplemented with a regular water “mist” schedule (just use a spray bottle to keep them dewy each time you walk through or past the room where they’re kept).

When winter comes…
Again, if you live in an area with a pronounced and definite winter season then you absolutely must take steps to protect your tropical flowers. All experts agree that you should definitely bring them inside well before the “first freeze” in fall. Failure to do this will result in either the death of the plant or extreme damage. Additionally, some types of plants actually undergo dormant phases, meaning they won’t require light at all, only a cool dark locale (click here for additional information and a list of tropical flowers which can be stored when entering into a dormant phase).

Basic floral design ideas to consider when using Tropical Flowers

tropical flower arrangement 3

Even for the individual that’s fairly adept at making their own floral arrangements (as an amateur or professionally) things tend to become a bit obscured when you add tropical flowers to the mix. Sure, many of the available and accessible varieties are already basically primed and ready for display, given their natural beauty and all, but it certainly helps to have some kind of idea(s) on how to actually utilize them, doesn’t it? We’re about to take a look at some basic floral design ideas to consider when using tropical flowers in your own arrangements…

…Juxtaposition or singular?

As with almost any other type of floral display you can create the question basically boils down to two distinct pathways – to either juxtapose several different things or mostly keep things sparse with one particular species. Naturally, the direction you end up taking will largely depend on exactly what your needs are and what you have available. For instance, if you have some splendid orchids there’s probably no need to further clutter things up, but to rather let the flowers themselves breathe their elegance in the space of your vase. Again, here we have an important factor (what you’re sticking the flower in) to consider. Some people prefer a simpler housing, perhaps a bit traditional like stone or clay, but there’s also something to be said about region-specific arrangements which might make use of wooden or bamboo-shaped containers which might further elucidate the area where your flower originally hails from.

tropical flower arrangement 2Sure, those singular arrangements are great and are clearly quite elegant, but what if you want to juxtapose a number of different things together? Are there any rules to abide by in this regard? For those who are new to this kind of thing, there are basically four “rules” to keep in mind:
1. Visualize a shape of the arrangement first. Don’t just start slinging plants into a vase; choose between a basic ball or pyramid-style shape (among others).
2. Stick with a single flower placement then move on to the next. One of the big amateur mistakes that people step into time and time again is trying to bunch up a group of flowers and then smash them into a pot together. Not only does this limit your ability to expertly place them strategically, but it just doesn’t make sense in the long run.
3. Your biggest flower should be most prominent and firmly grounded at the root of the arrangement. For obvious reasons you want the largest flower you are using to be solidly grounded, and this also applies to the basic design concept as well.
4. Fill up the spaces with something. While you could in theory fill up an entire arrangement with greenery and then place your flowers, the exact opposite is usually what is recommended. Moreover, the flowers should obviously bloom above where the greenery protrudes (it’s really just a quick background filler).

tropical flower arrangementTight, smaller and colourful arrangements

Who says you have to go big and tall, eh? You can make absolutely stunning and beautiful arrangements with a variety of large blooming tropical flowers that are all roughly within the same colour palette. Lilies, roses, gerberas, pin cushion protea, equisetum and other inclusions make for great small and tight basket-based arrangements. Moreover, these types of offerings tend to remain fairly easy to care for and are much less prone to incidents of being “knocked over” by unsuspecting parties and so forth. The main thing to keep in mind of course is the colour arrangement(s), some of the more typical groupings being based on things like reds, oranges and yellows.

Tall, Lanky and Elegant

Tropical flowers are also great for creating eye-catching tall or “lanky” types of arrangements, especially considering that there are a few varieties which yield exactly the right height required. Again, this might include orchids or lilies, as well as pink ginger, roses, or even climbing varieties of multi-point blooms delicately separated and attached to some type of centrepiece. With taller styles the tendency is to keep things within a relatively simple or limited colour palette too. For instance, if there are purples and whites then perhaps greens and bamboo would be used to shore out the rest of the setting. Likewise, there are an almost infinite number of ways you can balance out an arrangement, wit some people adding a base of larger multi-bloom flowers with orchids or lilies springing up above it.

Building from your base

tropical flower arrangement 4Sometimes it’s best to just find a series of interesting and useful vases / bases to work with and begin stylizing your bouquet from there. This is especially true if you have a number of extremely characteristic pieces to work with as well as a large assemblage of tropical flowers to draw inspiration from. In such cases you can often stumble across some great design that might have otherwise slipped your mind entirely. Additionally, the size and scope of the vase will likely determine the overall shape as well, which again might either limit or expand your options (depending on what’s on hand in the way of flowers).

Hibiscus at home

Perhaps one of the easiest and most versatile tropical arrangements you can piece together involves any decent sized vase, any single colour of hibiscus and some accompanying greenery. You need only arrange it in a sort of inverted pyramid shape, remembering to space out the flowers so that they’re not bunched together and fill up the spaces with greens. Once finished, you’ll be left with a nice table-ready arrangement that’s sure to grab the attention of your dinner guests.

Groups of colourful arrangements

No one is saying that you have to keep it simple however; you can also elect to place a number of different pots outside an entry way or in an exterior walkway, each one assuming a different height or level. There really aren’t any rules here as long as each individual species is in its own planter, moreover you can also move around too, experimenting with placements and caring for those that need it in a pinch.

What are some of the most common types of Tropical Flowers and how are they typically used in arrangements?


We see them all the time, all over the world these days and nearly everywhere we look, yet we tend to take them for granted. Yes, tropical flowers are certainly eye-catching and have a way of instantly adding charm, elegance and pizzazz to any area, but despite their prevalence, many people still don’t know what many of the common varieties are. In this article we’re going to examine a whole host of different types of tropical flowers and breakdown how they tend to be used in most floral arrangements…

African Moon

African MoonWith a display of large white petals and a purples base, the African Moon is a very distinct type of flower that tends to grow up to 8” to 12” in height. They tend to be displayed in bunches by themselves when used during continuous growing or as stunning and homely highlights to spruce up an arrangement.

African Tulip
African TulipProducing orange-ish / red-ish blooms with a distinctive bell-like shape, the African Tulip is truly exquisite. They actually grow on a Spathodea tree and feature water that’s sealed up in each flower bud. African tulips are fairly versatile and can be used together in bunches to great effect or as an offset to match other types of very active colours / designs.

Alpine Aster
Alpine AsterGiving off a display of light purple, violet pink and /or white, alpine asters are very useful in all types of floral arrangements and are typically found in ornamental rock gardens. Even though the plant is native to mountainous regions in Europe, it is still considered to be a tropical flower.

Amazon Lily
Amazon LilyOn their face, Amazon lilies sort of bear a striking resemblance to daffodils, but they are obviously quite different. Their green centre and brilliant white petals taking on a star-like formation make them ideal for bundling together in single flower-type arrangements. Needless to say they are very eye-catching and quite fragrant as well, which means they are typically displayed solely when harvested.

Begonia Non-stop Red
Begonia Non-stop RedThe non-stop red variety of begonias, which are extremely brilliant in colour and sprout on an annual basis, are excellent for outdoor planting and display. In essence, they are very easy to care for too as they are heat tolerant and do not require dead-heading. It should also be mentioned that (despite their name), they also come in all sorts of different colours.

Blanket flower
Blanket flowerYellow and rusty-red flowers arranged a bit like daisies – this is the general look of the blanket flower, which is commonly used in bouquets and arrangements. They bloom in the summer and are quite tolerant of dry conditions too, often touted as being somewhat “drought-resistant”.

Blue Dawn flower
Blue Dawn flowerBlue dawn flowers are quite large and very flashy, with an almost neon-like overall presentation of deep purplish blues. The plant itself has been called detrimental due to its ability to climb over virtually any surface and “take it over”, but they remain very beautiful nonetheless. These flowers make for a great accent, especially if you have a lattice display or pole that the plants can climb on and bloom from (just remember to keep them in check).

Bottle Brush
Bottle BrushRather than forming petals, the bottle brush flower features filaments which sprout and fan out like little colourful brushes. Actually, within each flower there is a fruit along with multitudes of seeds too. If they are left alone for a longer period of time these assets accumulate resulting in an eventual gushing forth of seeds which can then harvested. While they are typically planted somewhere more permanent, they can also be cut and used to accentuate more traditional-looking tropical flowers to great effect.

ChrysanthemumChrysanthemums should already be familiar to you if you have any interest in tropical flowers at all, given their popularity. One of the things which make them unique is that they don’t bloom one specific way or in one colour. As far as uses go, they are extremely versatile – being used in both planters and in permanent settings as well as colourful statements in a variety of different floral arrangements (specific colours corresponding to certain “messages” to be conveyed and so forth).

Decorative Dahlia
Decorative DahliaDecorative Dahlia produce a double bloom which masks their underlying base or disc. They come in a variety of stunningly rich colours and are useful for both cut arrangements as well as in landscaping. Moreover, care and maintenance of dahlias is generally considered to be rather easy as well.

FrangipaniYou might recognize the Frangipani by its other name – the Lei flower native to the Hawaiian islands. They produce an absolutely beautiful star-like formation that’s also extremely fragrant. Because of these factors they are often prime flowers to use in such offerings as bouquets or to place in specific areas where a bit of natural “scent enhancement” might be necessary.

HibiscusThe Hibiscus is yet another extremely well-known and loved variety of tropical flower that is fairly easy to care for and grow. They come in a wide variety of stunning colours and are also known as the “queen of the tropics” in certain territories. Aside from being great for planting, landscaping and in arrangements, they are also used in paper making, medicines, food and more.

LotusLotus flowers are mostly known for their eastern religious connections, but are also used as food source throughout the world as well. Their large petals will bloom typically white or pink and they obviously remain extremely versatile to include in any type of floral arrangement you can imagine.

Morning Glory
Morning GloryThere are literally hundreds of distinct species under the Morning Glory heading, each one possessing its own unique characteristics and/or colours. Typically speaking, they bloom into a funnel-like shape in one of five different colours and are great for planting on or near walls, fences and the like.

SophornitellaDespite their rather diminutive size, the Sophornitella produces quite large flowers which bloom into a very distinctive and “showy” six-sided arrangement in a purple-ish pink-ish shade. Despite the fact that they’re found all over, they tend to look similar regardless of their source. Naturally, they make great additions to any floral arrangement, either as an accent or main display.