Big leaved tropical plants

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Tropical foliage plants

Apart from bananas and canna, there are of course plenty more tropical foliage plants for you to choose. The plants mentioned below have all been selected because of their good nature. They are easy to grow and in most cases inexpensive to produce on an annual basis.

So in no particular order...

Tropical foliage plants for cooler climates

Leaf of colocasia esculenta var antiquorum, the eddoe or elephant ear

Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum

Known by some as the elephant ear plant, by others the eddoe and by scientists as Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum.

Due to similar horticultural requirements both Colocasia and Xanthosoma are dealt with on the same page (link below)


Leaf of Xanthosoma sagittifolium, the elephant ear plant or coco yam.

Xanthosoma sagittifolium

Also known as the elephant ear plant to some, to others this is the coco yam and to the scientists a straight forward Xanthosoma sagittifolium.


Colocasia esculenta

Colocasia esculenta

The cheapest and easiest to grow of all the grocery bought aroids. Buy it under the name of Arvi or Arbi


Leaf of hedychium maximum

Hedychium sp.

Another nice group of lush foliage plants are the hedychiums or ginger lilies. The plant featured here is hedychium 'maximum'.

Hedychium gardnerianum


Leaf pattern of alpinia zerumbet 'variegata'

Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata'

As with the hedychium featured in the above picture, Alpinia's are also plants belonging to the ginger family.The plant featured here is Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata'. Probably just a bit too slow growing for the temperate tropical style garden.


Leaf of ricinus communis 'New Zealand purple'

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis, the castor oil plant is one of the fastest growing foliage plants you can use. It produces highly toxic seeds (popular with terrorists) but is pretty safe in the garden. The plant featured in this picture is Ricinus communis 'New Zealand purple'.


Echium wildpretii foliage

Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii Very nice.


Echium pininana foliage

Echium pininana

Once described Echium pininana as sinister by a garden visitor. This plant contrasts well with the more standard tropical plants. A bit of a weird plant really.


Leaf detail of cyphomandra betacea, the tree tomato

Cyphomandra betacea

Cyphomandra betacea the tree tomato produces large nicely veined leaves. This plant also contrasts well with the more lance shaped leaves.


Persian shield - Strobilanthes dyerianus

Persian shield - Strobilanthes dyerianus

Persian shield - Strobilanthes dyerianus A shade loving, colourful foliage plant for pots or in the border. Tender, but is easy to overwinter as cuttings.


Spider plant - Chlorophytum comosum

Spider plant - Chlorophytum comosum

Spider plant - Chlorophytum comosum The plant we've all been looking for. Low growing, front of border plant for sun or shade. Easy peasy to propagate. Drought tolerant and relatively root hardy. 'Nuff said.