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  • Chris Jackson

5 Architectural Plants for your Tropical Garden


Tropical style gardens are becoming more and more popular. If this a style you are trying to achieve in your garden in Bradford, these 5 plants will give you that tropical allure and style you are looking for.

Trachycarpus fortunei


Trachycarpus Fortunei sometimes called the Chusan Palm or Windmill Palm. You can plant this palm in full sun or in a shady spot. It will perform differently whether in sun or shade. When planted in the shade you find the stalks are longer and the leaves are bigger with a darker rich green. You are best avoiding a windy position for this palm as the wind shreds the leaves and it will start to look stringy and ragged. You might be able to help it adjust to its position by buying a smaller one. Although if you are going for instant impact and investing in a large palm you could protect it by planting some evergreen edging as a wind-break.

The palm will grow well and thrive in most normal gardens if you do not expose it to constant strong winds e.g. in an open field. There is a Trachycarpus Wagnerianus which is a smaller variety but it is known to be much more slow growing.

Chamaerops Humilis


Chamaerops Humilis is known as a dwarf fan palm.

This little palm is very slow growing. It will take many years for the trunk to gain any height.

It is known as a clump forming palm.

This would be an ideal palm for a patio garden and does well in a pot because of its slow growth. Chamaerops Humilis does not have to be in full sun, but it does prefer a sunnier spot than the Trachycarpus Fortunei.

Musa Basjoo


Musa Basjoo is known to be one of the hardiest of the Banana Plants. Musa’s are fast growing plants and they will need plenty of water and feeding during the warmer months.

Musa Basjoo performs best near something that will give it some dappled shade. If planted in the full sun the huge leaves fold up and it does not look as dramatic so think carefully about its position before you spend your money.

Musa is such a beautiful strong and vigorous growing foliage plant. It is a perfect architectural addition to your garden. It does need the fuss in winter like other palms.

Another option you might like is Musa Sikkimensis Red Tiger which has red lines throughout its foliage.

Cordyline Australis


Ah, the good old Cordyline. You see them everywhere at good prices.

They are a great addition to any architectural scheme and because of their reasonable price you could plant two or three.

The Cordyline is not a palm but it grows fast and adds instant impact and a tropical feel.

Planting several Cordylines together that are different heights can create great impact. There are green, red and variegated but the red and variegated are not as hardy.

Cordylines are great for ‘under planting’ which is planting around the bottom of larger plants, so your display appears to have a well-established look instantly.

All varieties grow well in pots too. Just a word of warning though, long cold winters or a lot of snow can kill your Cordylines regardless of their hardiness. Lesser hardy varieties need to be over wintered.

Dicksonia Antarctica


Probably one of the best-selling architectural plants over the last few years.

It is in the highest price bracket as palms go but they are well worth the investment.

Dicksonia Antarctica known more commonly as the Tree Fern which is hardy and a stunning palm to have. The Dicksonia Antarctica has huge leaves which have a glorious spreading habit reaching outwards and upwards.

I think it’s the best for hardiness and a tropical addition to your garden. The Tree Fern is supposed to be evergreen but in some cold areas it might lose its leaves in winter. Best in a south facing garden and plant in a sheltered spot for best results. Hardy to –5 but so will need protection when the cooler weather arrives up here in the north.


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