Field Of Red And Pink Flowers
pink and red begonia flower
(Image credit: 1550539)

Tired of traditional flower borders? Then why not boost up their interest by adding an exotic flair to them. With tropical plants in the border, you can instantly add some excitement to an otherwise drab landscape.

Plants for Tropical Borders

There are a number of commonplace semi-tropical flowers and plants for borders that you can use without having to look for exotic varieties. Here are just some of the types of plants you can add to the garden border for tropical appeal.

Bedding Plants

Plants for tropical borders need not be limited strictly to exotic species. For instance, did you know that some of the most popular bedding plants used for borders are actually considered to be tropical? Some of these include:


Even some of your favorite houseplants can make excellent additions to the tropical border. Choose a multitude of selections like:

These can be grown directly in the ground or within strategically placed containers located in the tropical border. Containers actually work well for tender plants, which can easily be moved indoors for overwintering.

Vegetable Plants

Did you know that ornamental plants and vegetables can find a place in the tropical border too? It's true. You can fill in empty areas of tropical borders with vegetables. For example:

  • The sweet potato vine adds structure and height to the tropical border.
  • Make a bold statement in the tropical border with the burgundy-tinged foliage and soft, yellow blooms of ornamental okra 'Burgundy.' Once its blooms have faded, this exceptional plant produces lovely burgundy pods for year-round interest.
  • Rhubarb has lovely cream-colored flower stalks that fit in nicely with many plants. Both the red and yellow forms of rhubarb can look striking in the tropical border.
  • Once asparagus crops have faded, their feathery foliage looks exceptional in a tropical border.
  • Tree spinach is a vigorous and attractive plant for tropical borders, with lush purple and green foliage and bearing long spikes of tiny reddish flowers.

Foliage Plants

There are a number of foliage plants that can be incorporated into the tropical border. Foliage plants give tropical borders height and texture while mimicking the look and feel of a real jungle oasis. Nearly anything will work here-- the possibilities are endless. For starters you could try:

Don't overlook colorful foliage plants like coleus and caladiums. Color is a definite plus in the tropical border. Many flowering plants also provide vivid color while maintaining tropical appeal like:

Vining Plants

Also incorporate flowering vines into the tropical border, such as passionflower and trumpet vine. Just as with any jungle-like setting, plant placement in the tropical border is important. Choose and place all the tallest varieties first, working your way down in height. You don't have to visit the tropics to enjoy tropical foliage and flowers. Many jungle-like plants tolerate the same conditions as your commonly planted bedding plants, making them suitable in a variety of landscapes. Choose the right plant and you can both create and enjoy a beautiful tropical border anywhere.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.