Transform Your Water Garden into a Tropical Oasis

By Kimberly Toscano

Escape to paradise without leaving your own backyard.

Water gardens are the perfect setting for tropical-inspired plantings. And you don’t have to sacrifice hardiness in cultivating the look. Focus on hardy plants with bold foliage and rich texture to capture the essence of a verdant island getaway. Layer foliage for added height and depth, and infuse the scene with warm-colored flowers. 

Focus on Foliage

Close your eyes and picture an exotic scene in the South Pacific or the jungles of Costa Rica. These tropical landscapes have a common element – heavy, thick foliage. When it comes to planting a tropical garden, dense planting is key. Surround your garden sanctuary with walls of greenery – vertical layers emerging one from another. 

Tropical gardens are all about texture. Set the mood with lush foliage and robust architecture.

Tropical gardens are all about texture. Set the mood with lush foliage and robust architecture. Few plants embody the look of the tropics as completely as ‘Poquito’ Banana and ‘Black Ripple’ Colocasia. Contrast these with slim blades and lacy foliage. ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia and Obsession™Nandina lend the lacy-look ferns, while the long lines of Design-A-Line™ Cordyline add color and movement.

Carry the garden skyward with tall shrubs, vines, and trees.

Carry the garden skyward with tall shrubs, vines, and trees. The slim leaves and flashy variegation of Twist of Pink™ Variegated Oleander provide a soft accent to bolder foliage. ‘Spider’s Web’ Fatsia adds evergreen color to the garden with broad, deep-cut foliage that looks at home among bananas and palms. 

Heat Things Up with Color

Accent all that foliage with hot colors in vivid shades of red, orange and yellow.

Accent all that foliage with hot colors in vivid shades of red, orange and yellow. The trumpet-like flowers of Hardy Amaryllis and Lydia™ Tecoma echo the flamboyancy of tropical blooms. Accent these with non-stop color in flowing mounds of Cosmic Firestorm™ Lantana and Red EnduraScape™ Verbena and watch the hummingbirds swarm. 

Hardscape and garden décor offer vibrant color for your garden oasis. Punctuate the planting with dramatic plant forms in bright containers. Foliage is the backbone of any tropical garden, so incorporate color there as well.

Hardscape and garden décor offer vibrant color for your garden oasis. Punctuate the planting with dramatic plant forms in bright containers. Foliage is the backbone of any tropical garden, so incorporate color there as well. Carry warm color forward with the rich red foliage of 'Panama Red’ Hibiscus and the golden radiance of Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex

Complement the purple tones of ‘Black Ripple’ Colocasia with the bulbous blooms of Agapanthus.

Complement the purple tones of ‘Black Ripple’ Colocasia with the bulbous blooms of Agapanthus. These tropical beauties explode like fireworks, blooming spring through fall. The purple hues of Ever Amethyst™ Agapanthus will warm against the hotter tones of red and yellow. Or create an air of sophistication with the pure-white spikes of Ever White™ Agapanthus

Finishing Touches

Water completes the tropical garden aesthetic, but you don’t have to build a large water garden to complete the scene. Any element of water will do, from a bubbling fountain to a reflective pool. The gleam of light on a still pool is mesmerizing, while the sound of trickling water will ease you into relaxation in your tropical sanctuary. 

Looking to add water to the garden but not sure where to begin? Follow this link for more water garden inspiration.

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