Add a Tropical Planter to any Patio Garden

Tropical planterMy dry Colorado garden is thousands of miles away from Hawaii’s sandy shores, but I can still enjoy the tropics in my own patio garden.

All I need is a large tropical-looking container, a few tropical plants and some Tiki torches to create the perfect mood.

For this tropical planter I chose a Tropicanna Canna Lily because I fell for its oversized multi-colored leaves and the large, jungle-like tangerine-orange flowers that shoot up from the center.

Canna Lilies that grow in containers reach about 4’ tall. If I lived in any of the warmer Zones, the lily could spend the winter outside. But in my Zone 5, tropical plants like these need to be removed from the container and stored in a cool, dry place over winter.

As a complement to the large lily leaves, I planted mounds of brilliant orange-red Begonias. These plants filled in along the container edges as a nice contrast to the brilliant lime green container I chose for the arrangement.

Two solar-powered Tiki torches, speared deeply into the container’s soil, were the finishing touch. Of course, typical Tiki torches that give off a real flame would add even more drama to the display at night.

The result brings island living just a little closer to home.

If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s how to add a little aloha attitude to your patio, deck, balcony or wherever you like to spend your warm summer evenings.

1. Select a tall container that has holes in the bottom for drainage.
2. Place paper coffee filters over the holes to keep soil from sifting out.
3. Add a thin layer of rocks on top of the filters to also help with drainage.
4. Fill the container about 3/4 full with potting soil; mix in a slow-release fertilizer.
5. Remove the Canna Lily from its container and spread out the roots.
6. Place the plant in the center of the container and tamp down the soil.
7. Add more planting soil to within 2” of container lip.
8. Plant begonias tightly together, filling in along the container’s edges; water in.
9. Stick the tiki torches deeply into the soil, with one slightly taller than the other.

Keep plants watered and don’t let the soil dry completely. Every few weeks water with the addition of a water-soluble plant fertilizer to keep plants healthy and flowers blooming.

If you’ve selected solar-powered Tiki torches, place the tropical container in a spot where the torches will get 6-8 hours of sun a day to keep them charged. If using typical torches, safely fill with Tiki torch fuel.

Then wait for dusk in your garden, watch the flickering torch lights, and enjoy a refreshing island drink. Complete the mood with some Hawaiian-style ukulele tunes and sail away. Grass skirts are optional.


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