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Tropical Landscape Design

Love the look of a vibrant tropical garden, but don’t live in the tropics? No problem! With some colourful and lush foliage, a diverse plant palette and the right array of layered plants, you can have an exotic and dense tropical garden in no time. There are no rules here; use your imagination!


Brightly, bold coloured foliage can be the key to achieving your dream tropical sanctuary. Tropical gardens tend to rely predominantly on foliage rather than flowers to create the perfect look. With lots of “planned planting”, you can achieve an array of lively, colourful and interesting plants. The most effective tropical gardens often have brightly coloured plants positioned (such as those with red, orange and purple leaves) next to each other. Plants should also be chosen on the basis of the texture, shape and size of their leaves, and plants should contrast with one another. Adding some colourful flowers such as hibiscus or “Birds of paradise” can dramatically warm up the garden and provide further dimension.


Some simple layering can make all the difference. Planting in groups of odd numbers, often groups of three, is a simple trick used by landscape designers, to help achieve effective layering and to give more dimension to the feel of the garden. You should also carefully consider the height of your selected range of plants, and how their heights and shapes compliment one another. Adding some taller trees such as bamboo or palms can add a few trendy focal points and furnish your garden with a dense ceiling, as well as providing excellent privacy screening! And of course, layering these plants among some simple design aspects, such as pathways and colourful modern furniture, will hopefully complete your ideal tropical garden!


Having a wide range of vibrant and colourful plant types in your tropical garden is very important. Unlike for formal gardens (see previous blog!), don’t strive for a simple plant palette – the more diverse plants, the better! You should consider the types of trees, flowering plants and scrub that you might like and that might compliment each other. Asian herbs and spices can always be added if you are a passionate cook, such as kaffir lime, ginger, cardamom and lemongrass; they tend to grow well in cool, moist spots amongst the denser scrub, and they look good too!


  • Angel’s trumpets

  • Bird of paradise

  • Canna Lilly

  • Colocasia

  • Heliconia

  • Palms

  • Sacred Bali bamboo

  • Hibiscus

  • Philodendron

  • Ctenanthe

  • Crinum lily

  • Bromeliads

  • Clivia

  • Cordylines

  • Fijian fire plant

  • Rhoeo

  • Mandevillas

  • Bouganvillea’s

  • Zoysia grass

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