This Tropical-Look Garden Plan Brings Bold Color to Your Yard

These brightly colored leaves and flowers will make a bold, beautiful display all summer long.

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tropical look garden plan with canna illustration
Photo: Illustration by Tom Rosborough

A well-placed container filled with colorful plants provides a show-stopping focal point in this tropical-look garden plan. A tall purple-leaf canna in the center of the planter grabs attention with both its large leaves and brightly hued flowers. The heart-shape leaves of purple and chartreuse sweet potato vines create a cascade of color as they spill over the side of the container onto the surrounding plants. The twisted and contorted branches of a Harry Lauder’s walking stick make an exciting backdrop for the sun-loving planting. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for hummingbirds; they’ll especially be attracted to fuchsia’s unique blossoms that resemble layered, brightly colored skirts.

Plants for Creating the Tropical-Look Garden Plan

  • 2 Golden spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenway’): Zones 3-8
  • 1 Fuchsia ‘Tom West’: Zones 1-7
  • 4 Lantana 'Little Lucky': Annual
  • 2 Variegated English ivy (Hedera helix ‘Glacier’): Zones 5-9
  • 2 Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Spotlight Lime Heart’): Annual
  • 1 Ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum): Annual
  • 1 Purple-leaf canna (Canna x generalis): Treat as an annual
  • 1 Harry Lauder’s walking stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’): Zones 4-8
  • 2 Purple-Leaf sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Spotlight Black Heart'): Annual
  • 1 Lilyturf (Lirope muscari ‘Big Blue’): Zones 5-10
  • 1 Moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora 'Pazzaz Nano'): Annual

If you aren't able to find the exact cultivars listed above, substitute with others that have similar colors, shapes, and sizes. And because some plants can become overly aggressive and spread out of control in certain climates, always check which species are considered invasive in your area before planting.

Get the Free Tropical-Look Garden Plan

This free garden plan is available as a printable PDF that includes an illustrated version of the planted garden, a layout diagram, a list of plants for the garden as shown, and complete instructions for installing the garden.

Tips for Planting Your New Garden

Preparation is the key to creating a garden that will offer a lifetime of pleasure. Before you start plant shopping, review all garden plan materials. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I have a suitable spot for this garden plan?

The layout diagram shows the rough dimensions for the plan. In general, you can enlarge or reduce the size of the garden by adding or eliminating plants, although the character of the garden may change if you alter the size dramatically.

Do I have the right growing conditions?

Check the plant list to see if the plan will do best in sun, part shade, or full shade. Be sure that the plants are suited to your USDA Hardiness Zone.

Do I need to amend my soil?

Most plants thrive in moist, but well-drained soil. If you have soil with lots of sand or clay, amend it liberally with lots of organic matter, such as compost. You may also want to do a soil test to see if you need to adjust the soil pH or add fertilizer before planting.

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