Why do our customers return to Island Tropical? We think one of the reasons is our selection of what we like to call Unique Tropicals. From native and salt tolerant plants like the Suriana Maritima Bay Cedar,to the largest selection of Aloes and Agaves in the southeast, we’ve got some really cool plants! We hope that you will take a few minutes and check out our Unique Tropicals pages. Whether it is the Kalanchoe Flapjack or the Ficus Rubiginosa Florida, we think you’ll find something to help make your landscape selection fresh and unique.
Part of the fun of growing plants in south Florida is that the climate allows us some unusual plants to work with. We put our growers to work, and we often discover beautiful, hardy varieties to add to our ongoing availability. We’d like you to be aware of some of our favorite Tropicals, and we promise that we’ll keep looking for plants that you can’t find just anywhere, to help keep your selection varied and fresh. The Dracaena Arborea, Adenium Desert Rose, with newly introduced double blooms, and the Kalanchoe Luciae Fantastic and Thyrsifora Flapjack, are just a few that we think will insure that your selection is like no one else’s.
Adenium Desert Rose
Hailing from Africa, Adeniums are propagated by grafting, yielding many spectacular hybrids. They are popular as ornamentals, known for their unusual thick bases and variety of colors. These unique plants grow to 4-6;, and like full sun. They are cold tolerant to 30 degrees, but may experience damage if they are in prolonged temperatures under 40 degrees. These plants are often containerized so that they may be moved indoors if the climate is typically cold. Desert Rose is typically chosen by landscapers and gardeners for its brilliant color and unique flowers, which have recently been introduced with dramatic double blooms.
Kalanchoe Luciae Fantastic
This flowering tropical succulent is also known as the Paddle Plant. Native to South Africa, this plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and produces fragrant, pale yellow flowers. Kalanchoe are drought resistant, and cold tolerant to 20-25 degrees. Consequently they are considered low care plants. One of the appealing features the Luciae Fantastic is the way the margins of the leaves redden beautifully from direct sun exposure. Average height is 12-18';, with leaves growing to 6" long and 3-4" wide.
Kalanchoe Thyrsifora Flapjack
Commonly known as the Flapjack Plant, this plant is native to South Africa. Low care due to its drought tolerance and cold tolerance to 20-25 degrees, this flowering succulent produces chartreuse or bright yellow flowers. Kalanchoe are popular for use in rock gardens, and its blooms are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Kalanchoe Thyrsifora is unusual in that it grows in a rosette of flat, round leaves. Its average height is 12-18'.
This hardy, slow grower is one of the least common Clusia varieties. It is also called the Balsam Apple, and makes a beautiful ornamental shrub or tree, growing to 8-10'. The Clusia Lanceolata is salt tolerant, and somewhat drought tolerant, making it a low care plant to maintain. It's leathery, thick leaves grow to about 3" long. Blossoms may be red, scarlet, or white, and measure 1-2" across. This plant likes full sun to light shade. Native to Brazil, the Clusia Lanceolata was chosen by world renowned Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami as one of its top 3 PLANTS OF THE YEAR in 2007.
Also known as the Port Jackson Fig or Rusty Fig, this flowering evergreen tree matures to over 40'. At maturity, which takes about 30 years, its branches may spread to 50'. This slow grower may also be contained as a shrub, but is most often used as an ornamental flowering tree, as it matures to a lovely, dense shade tree. The Port Jackson Fig tree is moderately drought and salt tolerant, and requires little care. Native to Australia, the Ficus Rubignosa produces fruit throughout the year; however, most fruit is produced in spring and summer. The fruit is yellow ripening to red in color. In tropical and humid climates, the lower branches of the Port Jackson Fig may form aerial roots which root if they are allowed to reach the ground, forming secondary root systems. This process is known as banyaning, and is most commonly seen in the Banyan Tree.
Native to Africa, the Dracaena Arborea is also known as the African Dragon Tree. This slow glowing tree matures to 40', but commonly is much smaller. It likes full sun to partial shade. Sometimes known as Dracaena tree, it blooms tiny white flowers, which turn to bright red berries. Cold hardy to 15 degrees, this is considered a very low care plant, and is suitable for indoor containers. It is typically chosen for its unusual broad dense head, which features sword shaped, evenly wavy leaves which grow to 3'.
Island Tropical Foliage is proud to be the largest grower of Aloes and Agaves in the southeast. Agaves are succulents that are popular for ornamental use, and feature thick, fleshy leaves. Many have sharp points and spiny margins. The most common Agaves are the Americana, Angustifolia, and Attenuata. Some of our favorites are the Agave Potatorum Blue Rose, and the Agave Parryi Truncata, but we have so many, it’s hard to choose a favorite! The Aloe plant is best known for its famous variety, Aloe Barbadensis, popularly known as Aloe Vera, which has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. There are many Aloe varieties which are decorative additions to any landscape, not only for unique look of the plants, but for the fact that they are drought tolerant. Check out a few of our favorites, which include the Dorotheae Sunset Aloe, and the Humilis Echinata Aloe Hedgehog.
Agave americana var. medio-picta, 'Yellow-Striped Century Plant'
This compact form of Americana features central stripes of white on recurved blue-green leaves. Expect a maximum height of 4', maximum width of 6'. Drought tolerant, plant in full sun, hardiness zones 8b-10.
Agave americana, 'Silver-blue'
This salt tolerant agave sports beautiful silver blue foliage. Plant in sun or partial shade, it is drought tolerant, hardiness zones 7b-11.
Agave americana 'Variegata', Agave 'Variegated'
The spiny edged Variegata has beautifully curved leaves, which are a green-gray color. Each leave features a white stripe down the outside edges, with a green center. It grows to a 6' height and an 8' width. Plant in full sun, hardiness zones 7b-11.
Agave angustifolia var. marginata, Agave 'Variegated Caribbean'
The Variegated Caribbean sports stiff, straight, sage green leaves with cream stripes along the edges. It grows to 4' in height and 6' in width. Plant in full sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 9-11.
Agave attenuata, 'Spineless Century Plant'
The Attenuata is one of the softest Agaves, with a wide, green succulent leaf. Sometimes called a 'Foxtail Agave', the Attenuata is also grown in a variegated variety, with soft cream stripes down the edges of the leaves. These Agaves grow in a clump,and may reach 5' in height over time. Plant in full sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 10-11.
Agave 'Blue Flame'
The Blue Flame can handle cold to 25 degrees, growing in a clump maturing at 3' height by 3' wide. Foliage is a lovely blue green due to the blue cast caused by the waxy coating that forms on the leaves, which have nearly spinless margins. The rosette clumps may form into a dense mass over time; measuring over 10' wide and 5' in height. Plant in full sun, drought tolerant, hardiness zones 8a-11.
Agave 'Blue Glow'
This dramatic small Agave has blue-green foliage with red margins that are edged with yellow. Salt and drought tolerant, the Blue Glow makes an excellent container plant. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees, and will grow to a maximum of 2' high by 2' wide. Likes full sun and is hardy in zones 8-11.
Agave desmettiana, 'Dwarf Century Plant'
This clumping succulent, with its green-gray leaves, grows to 3' by 3' at maturity. Its leaves have sharp teeth ending in a spiky point. Drought tolerant, it likes full sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Agave desmettiana 'Variegata'
The variegated version of the Desmettiana grows to 4' x 4', and its rubbery green leaves display a yellow margin down the edges. It is not very spiny and is considered highly ornmental; more popular than the non-variegated version. Drought tolerant, it likes full sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Agave funkiana 'Fatal Attraction'
Fatal Attraction features narrow, dark green spiny leaves, with a lighter green center stripe. The leaves are sharp tipped. It can grow to 2' by 2' at maturity, and grows relatively quickly. Drought tolerant, it is hardy to 15 degrees, likes full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9a-11.
Agave gentryi, 'Jaws'
This very heavily red-toothed agave has medium to dark green concave leaves. The leaves come to a sharp point, and this clump grower will mature at about 2' wide by 4' high. Cold hardy to 10 degrees, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 7b-10.
The rosettes that form the Guiengola can grow to 4' in height to 6' in width. Thick white-green leaves have dark colored sharp spines along the edges. Hardy to 25 degrees, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Agave guiengola, 'Creme Brulee'
This smooth and dramatic variety has beautiful boat shaped leaves; light green with cream edges. Tiny brown teeth accent the leaf margins. Creme Brulee grows to 3' high by 4' wide. Drought tolerant, plant in full sun, hardiness zones 9-11.
Agave gypsophilia, 'Blue Wave'
This unusual looking agave's leaves are a blue-gray and are very wavy (hence the name Blue Wave!). The leaves are shark-toothed and feature upcurled edges. This plant can grow to 6' by 6'. Drought tolerant, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Agave parryi truncata
Thick, wide, leaves make up the rosettes that form the Parryi Truncata. The symmetrial nature of this plant makes it perfect for a container. The brown toothed gray-blue leaves terminate in a very pointy brownish-reddish spike. Cold hardy to 0 degrees, it can grow to 3' in height to 2' in width. Full to partial sun, hardiness zones 6b-10.
Agave potatorum, Agave 'Blue Rose'
Also kmown as Agave Baja, this beautiful agave grows in perfect blue-green rosettes. Blue Rose stays compact, growing only to 2' by 2'. Sun to partial shade, drought tolerant, cold tolerant too, to hardiness zones 9b-10b.
This popular salt-tolerant agave features spiny wide leaves that are yellow centered, edged in green, surrounded by a pale green margin and edged with a white border. Full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 8-11.
Agave schidigera, 'Black Widow'
A good compact container plant, Black Widow's leaves are dark green with silver markings and feature whitish threads extending from the edges. Black Widow stays small, slowly growing to only 1' high by 1 1/2' wide. Full or partial sun, hardiness zones 8-10.
Agave weberi, 'Arizona Star'
The Weberi is a soft leaved, nearly spineless agave. It features blue-green leaves with yellow margins. This lovely agave grows to 4' in height by 7' wide. Full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 8-11.
Aloe arborescens 'Fishhook'
This flowering succulent features thick, narrow, blue-green softly spiked leaves that have a slight blue tint. Rosettes grow into a multi-headed sprawling plant which can grow to 8' in height, with a width of up to 5'. Flowers are bright red-orange color, with two flowering spikes rising high over each rosette. Plant in sun or shade, this drought tolerant plant's hardiness zones are 9b-11.
Aloe aristata - 'Torch Plant-Lace Aloe'
This aloe's lance-shaped, fleshy leaves are dark green, spiny, and feature white spots. This aloe stays small, typically only growing to 6' in height and width, making it great for containers and rock gardens. Plant in full sun or in indirect sunlight. Its tubular orange-red flowers rise in a tall spike, typically blooming in the fall. Hardiness zones 9-11.
Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera, 'Medicinal Aloe'
The most common of Aloe due to its wide use for medicinal purposes (primarily in moisturizers and as a skin anti-irritant), Aloe Vera features very thick, fleshy, sword shaped light green leaves which are often studded with white spots. Short teeth run up the edges of each leaf, which grow to form a clump. The typical maximum height is 3', maximum width 2'. Hardiness zones 9-11.
Aloe 'Blue Elf'
The Blue Elf remains small, growing only to 2' by 2', making it perfect for containers. Narrow, upright, blue-green leaves are heavily toothed. Orange flowers don the ends of showy spikes, typically seen in winter and spring. An easy care succulent, it is drought tolerant; plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9-11.
Aloe 'Candy Corn'
The deep gray-green leaves of the Candy Corn feature orange spines along the margins, and come to a pointy end. This aloe remains small, typically not growing larger that 1' by 1'. Its orange flower, which top spikes rising from the plant, blooms in winter, and bears a resemblance to candy corn. Drought tolerant, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Aloe dorotheae, 'Sunset Aloe'
This low growing clumping Aloe ranges in color from greenish-yellow to bright orange-red. Its leaves are stiff and shiny, with spiny teeth on the margins. Rosettes spread as wide as 1 ½’, but it only grows to slightly under 1’ tall. Red or orange flowers top spikes that rise 1'-2' above the foliage. Drought tolerant, plant in sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 10-11.
Aloe gastrolea hybrid 'Midnight Aloe'
Dark, roughly textured, greenish purple leaves distinguish the Midnight Aloe. Perfect in containers and rock gardens due to its small size, it typically will not grow larger than 1’ in height and 2’ in width. Orange flowers grow from the rosettes, which form clumps. Plant in sun or shade, drought tolerant, hardiness zones 8a-11.
Aloe 'Grassy Lassie'
Named for its narrow, deep green, finely toothed leaves (which form a grass-like appearance), this clumping Aloe’s color will become more bronze than green in full sun. Slow growing to only 1’ by 1’, its bright orange-red flowers bloom year round on spikes rising up to 2’ above its foliage. Drought tolerant, plant in sun or shade, hardiness zones 8-11.
Aloe Haworthioides 'Twilight Zone'
Dark green, lance shaped, thick leaves with tiny white dots comprise this small aloe plant. The white dots on the dark foliage are like stars in the sky; hence the name Twilight Zone. Its coral-orange flowers rise in spikes above the dark foliage; which will only grow to about 12” tall. Drought tolerant, grow in sun or partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Aloe humilis echinata, Aloe 'Hedgehog'
This low growing Aloe, also called Spider Aloe, is comprised of pale gray-green leaves that have randomly spaced bumps. Considered low care, this Aloe will stay small, only growing to a maximum of 12” in height, spreading to 8” in width. This clump forming Aloe’s blooms are dark red. Drought tolerant, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 9b-11.
Aloe 'Pink Blush'
This very attractive Aloe’s uniqueness comes from its flecked and textured leaves which range in color, from green to pink with pink edges. A small clumping Aloe, Pink Blush only grows to 1’ by 1’. Its flowers are a pretty orange, making this Aloe more colorful than most. Drought tolerant, grow in sun or partial shade, hardiness zone 9-11.
Aloe striata, 'Yucca Striata'
Sometimes called Coral Aloe, the Striata features rosettes of a few flat, broad leaves which are pale-green but often change to a pinkish hue when planted in full sun. The leaves are toothless with nearly transparent margins. Coral-red flowers rise on a spike that sprouts to 2’ above the foliage, and bloom in late winter to early spring. Remaining small, this plant grows to 1 1/2' in height by 2’ in width. Drought tolerant, grow in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 8-10.
Furcraea foetida, 'False Agave'
Often used as a dramatic landscape accent plant, False Agave’s thin, brightly colored leaves are variegated with green edges and a creamy white stripe down the center. Spine free, this plant can grow to 7’ in height by 8’ in width. This plant blooms once, in a tall white flowered spike, after which it dies; average plant life is 10 years. Salt and drought tolerant, plant in full sun to partial shade, hardiness zones 8a to 11.
From exotic fruits like Guava Pink and Lychee Brewster, to staples of many diets such as Musa Edible Banana and Black Mission Fig, what’s more practical than landscaping with edible trees and plants? You’d be surprised how many edibles provide beautiful flowers and shade, with the grand finale of delectable fruit. Peach Florida King, Dragon Fruit Zamorano, Carambola Kari Star Fruit, and so many more, why not add an entire fruit salad to your landscape plan?
Annona Muricata, Soursop
This flowering evergreen tree features low, bushy branching but grows to be a slender tree due to its upturning limbs. Soursop trees are adapted to highly humid climates which feature warm winters. Best grown in full sun, a seedling will produce fruit in 2-3 years. Average height is 15 to 20 feet. Sometimes called the Guanaban Tree, the oval fruit is covered with tender “spikes” and is yellow-greenish when ripe. The fruit flavor is best described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavor notes, and is used for juice or in ice cream or sherbet. Fruits may be as large as 8 to 12 inches. (Hardiness Zones 10-11)
The average height of the Brogdon Avocado is about 25 feet and width is about 20 feet. The Brogdon goes into season between the months of July and September. The actual tree is moderately vigorous also moderately productive. The Brogdon is a very hardy variety and has a very similar flavor to the Haas avocado. (Cold Tolerance 22 degrees F.)
The Choquette comes into season between the months of November and February. It is a medium sized spreading tree and is very productive. This avocado produces fruit heavily in alternate years. It has a mild flavor and 13 percent oil content. (Cold tolerance is 26 degrees F)
The Day avocado comes into season between the months of July and September. It is a more slender tree and very productive. The fruit has a buttery consistency and a delicious nutty flavor. It is a medium sized easy to peel avocado. (Cold tolerance 22-25 degrees F)
The Lula avocado comes into season between the months of November and February. It is a cross between Guatemalan and Mexican type avocados. A taller variety, dense and broad, it is rapid growing and productive and bares when young. The fruit has a 12-16 percent oil content. The Lula was recognized for its excellent eating qualities, cold hardiness and productivity.
The Monroe avocado comes into season between the months of November and January. It reaches an average height of about 25 feet and a width of about 20 feet. It is a heavy bearer with a round oval and pebbled fruit that has a nutty flavor. Its oil content is about 10-14 percent. (Cold tolerance is 26 degrees F)
The Simmonds comes into season between the months of July and August. The actual tree can grow to a height of about 30 feet and reach a width of 20 feet. It produces a fruit weighing about 1 to 1.5 lbs. This avocado is considered a good producer with excellent eating quality. (Cold Tolerance 28 degrees F)
Avocado Winter Mexican
The Winter Mexican avocado is an attractive spreading tree, very vigorous and heavy. It is considered a regular barer and resistant to scab. It has a 30 percent oil content. The fruit is oval shaped with a rough texture. (Cold Tolerance 22-24 degrees F)
The Bernecker avocado tree can reach a height of 30 feet and a width of 20 feet producing a large pair shaped fruit that varies in size from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. It is considered a good producer and the fruit has an excellent flavor.
The Barbados Cherry is a large bushy shrub that can reach up 20 feet in height and an equal width. The plant bares white silky irritating hairs when very young, and hairless dark green and glossy when mature. It produces round cherry like fruit, which is lobed .5 to 1 inch wide and bright red . Young plants are killed by any drop below 30 degrees F. They can tolerate drought, though they may not fruit until the coming of rain. It mainly fruits in spring and can also ripen in December.
Black Mission Fig
Native to Spain, the Black Mission Fig is one of the most commonly grown fig trees. Black Mission Figs grow and ripen during the late summer and early fall. It grows best in warmer climates, and produces a purplish-black pear shaped fruit with pink/ red flesh. (USDA Hardiness zones 7, 8-10)
The Kari carambola tree, aslo known as star fruit, can reach a height of 10-16 feet. Its fruits are star shaped and are yellow-orange when ripe. The carambola will fruit from mid-summer to mid-winter. The Kari will exhibit more cold tolerance than other carambola varieties. This variety is said to have an excellent flavor.
The Arkin variety is the most successful cultivar commerce due to it being firm and compact, making it easy to pick, pack and ship. This star fruit tree produces a medium sized fruit that is very sweet juicy and firm with few seeds.
Carambola Sri Kembanqan
The Sri Kembanqan Carambola (star fruit) can reach a height of between 20-30 feet. This carambola prefers partial to full sun and loves moisture. The Sri Kembanqan variety produces fruit that is bright yellow-orange in color and sweet. The fruit averages 4 to 6 inches in length and 3 to 4 inches in width. It is of excellent eating quality.
Carambola Fwang Tung
The Fwang Tung carambola tree will grow to reach a height of about 35 feet. This star fruit is crunchy and large, measuring 6 inches tall and 4 inches wide. It is semi sweet and pleasantly mild tasting.
Dragon Fruit- Zamorano
The Dragon Fruit- Zamorano is self-pollinating and produces a roundish red fruit with dark red pulp. It gets its name from the Agriculture University in Honduras. The fruit average half to one pound in size. It blooms huge nocturnal blooms over 14” across during the summer. The Dragon Fruit plant prefers shade at the feet but full sun at the tops to bloom well. Fruits are developed after blooming and ripen by midsummer to fall.
Eriobotrya Japonica, Loquat
Also known as the Japanese or Chinese Plum, this large evergreen scrub or small tree can grow to 30 feet tall, but typically tops out at 10 to 13 feet. Grown primarily for its very tart 1-2 inch yellow or orange fruit, it is sometimes also used as an ornamental shrub. Fragrant 1 inch white flowers may be found in autumn to early winter, followed by clusters of fruit. The Loquat trunk is short, and its leaves are dark green and glossy on the topside. (Hardiness Zones 8-10)
The Guava tree can grow to reach a height of 30 feet plus. It produces a round oval shaped fruit 2 to 4 inches long, light yellow skin blushed with pink. The guava thrives in both humid and dry climates and is not cold tolerant at all. Guava trees grow rapidly, and the fruit matures 90 to 150 days after flowering.
The Longan tree can grow up to 30 feet plus in height. It is a little more cold hardy than the lychee, and does not usually do well in temperatures below 30 degrees. Season of ripening in South Florida is between the months August and September.
The second most common commercial lychee variety or cultivar in South Florida is the Brewster. The fruit is medium to large, sweet and juicy. The fruit usually ripens during the month of June and as it does, it turns from a pinkish red to a bright purplish red. The Brewster lychee grows best in areas where it will get a lot of irrigation or natural rainfall.
The Carrie mango produces a small fruit averaging a pound or less and ripens from June to July. The flesh is not fibrous and is very rich in flavor. The fruit does not develop red blush like other mangos. At maturity it may be green to yellow.
The Glenn tree is relatively small and produces a compact rounded canopy. The fruit is oval to oblong in shape with a rounded base and pointed apex. The fruit turns bright yellow when ripe. The Glenn is a Haden seedling.
The Haden mango tree is a vigorous grower capable of reaching heights between 20 and 30 feet. It produces fruit averaging 1 to 2 pounds in weight which reach maturity from June to July. The flesh is slightly fibrous but has a full sweet flavor. The Haden mango has become of the most widely cultivated mangos in the world.
Mango Tommy Atkins
The Tommy Atkins fruit is medium to large in size weighing 16 to 25 ounces. The flavor is fair to good maturing between June and July. Tommy Atkins met the criteria for commercial production which is why it has become the most planted mango throughout Florida.
The Julie mango was recognized for its outstanding flavor and its dwarf growth habit. It is very susceptible to fungus due to the high levels of humidity in Florida. Its fruit is small averaging less than a pound at maturity. It is deep orange colored fruit; juicy and rich in flavor, not fibrous. The tree usually stays within 8 feet in height.
The Keitt tree is a vigorous grower but does not tend to get much bigger than 20 feet in height. The fruit of the Keitt is large reaching up to several pounds in weight. The fruit has good disease resistance and typically ripens from August through September. The fruit is fiberless tangy and sweet and considered to be great eating quality.
These edible bananas are available in several varieties, including the Ice Cream banana, Blue Java, which produces sweet, creamy fruit. This is one of the most cold hardy bananas, appropriate to zone 8. The Namwa banana is in the ladyfinger grouping, and produces a sweet, tasty fruit. Both varieties described grow to 10' at maturity. Fruit grows in bunches, and these long, hanging clusters may contain 3-20 tiers (also known as hands) which may produce up to 20 bananas each.
Myrciaria Cauliflora, Jaboticaba
This small, bushy tree is native to Brazil, where it is considered one of the most popular native fruit bearers. It is unique in that flowers, and resulting fruit, grow directly from the trunk. Also called the Brazilian Grape Tree, in full sun this slow growing tree (when grafted), will produce fruit in about 5 years. Seedling trees may take 10 years or more to bear fruit, which are eaten like grapes. Although most trees mature to 10-15 feet tall, in the native environment they are found up to 45 feet tall. Its canopy is typically as wide as its height. Fairly cold tolerant, Jaboticaba are highly ornamental due to its dense multiple stems. (Hardiness Zone 8)
Beachfront properties and tropical climates are logical locations for Salt Tolerant and Native plants. Many of these are also drought tolerant, so don’t forget them when you are planning rock garden landscapes. Jamaica Caper, Capparis Cynophallophora, Canella Winterana, Wild Cinnamon Tree, and several varieties of the hardy Clusia, are just a few examples of the varieties that we grow. Many of these unique Tropicals are appropriate for many climates and are sure to add an unusual touch to any landscape design.
Jamaica Caper, Capparis cynophallophora
Native to Florida, Jamaica Caper is a slow growing, upright shrub, often used as a spreading plant. It can grow to 20’ tall, but is typically not seen over 15’ tall, with an 8-12’ spread. Glossy, oval leaves are folded together when they first emerge, and due to the brown scales on the undersides of these leaves, new growth has a bronzed appearance. This plant’s leaves are light green; white flowers are showy, with a purple stamen. Look for flowers in spring, followed by 3-8” fruit which grows in a cylindrical pod. This is a dense, salt and drought tolerant plant, which may be planted in full sun or partial shade. Hardiness zones 10-11.
Clusia Rosea, Pitch Apple
Also known as the Autograph tree, as the broad, thick, dark green leathery leaves are thick enough to write on with a fingernail, Pitch Apple is a wide spreading, densely foliated evergreen tree. Its spread at maturity is 15-25’. A moderate grower, this ornamental tree features a short trunk, and grows to 25-30’ tall. In summer, showy 2-3” pink and white flowers bloom nightly; often remaining open on overcast mornings. Fleshy, light green poisonous fruit grows to 3” in diameter, turning black when they are ripe. Clusia Rosea may be planted in full sun or partial shade, and is salt and drought tolerant. Hardiness zones 10B-11.
Clusia Guttifera Small leaf
Often used as a hedge due to its density and branches that grow close to the ground, and its stiff, paddle shaped, leathery leaves, Clusia Guttifera is a low maintenance, moderately growing plant. You may allow it to grow to 25’ tall, but it is typically trained as a hedge, 8-10’ tall, spreading as wide as it is tall. It is not only salt and drought tolerant, but it’s pest resistant too. Plant in deep shade or in full sun; small, pink flowers are rare and typically only bloom in full summer heat. Hardiness zones 10-12.
This hardy, slow grower is one of the least common Clusia varieties. It is also called the Balsam Apple, and makes a beautiful ornamental shrub or tree, growing to 8-10’’. The Clusia Lanceolata is salt tolerant, and somewhat drought tolerant, making it a low care plant to maintain. It’s leathery, thick leaves grow to about 3’’ long. Blossoms may be red, scarlet, or white, and measure 1-2’’ across. This plant likes full sun to light shade. Native to Brazil, the Clusia Lanceolata was chosen by world renowned Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami as one of its top 3 PLANTS OF THE YEAR in 2007.
Clusia Rosea, Nana Dwarf Pitch Apple
A low growing, spreading shrub, Clusia Rosea is known for its unusual foliage; dark green, shiny, thick, paddle shaped leaves which grow 2-5” long. A lovely border or ornamental plant, it thrives in hot, tropical weather. Clusia Rosea is typically planted as an accent plant or hedge due to its density and highly textured foliage, rather than for its flowers. Fragrant flowers peak in spring, and are white with an orange center. Nana Dwarf Pitch Apple typically only grows to about 2’ tall, but may spread to 2-3’ wide. Easy care, it is drought and salt tolerant, and may be planted in light shade to full sun. Hardiness zones 10-12.
Exothea paniculata, Inkwood
Also known as Butterbough, Inkwood makes an excellent accent tree. The beautiful canopy makes a dense crown, and tops a medium sized tree with a tall trunk. Its height is typically 25-35’ and it is taller than it is broad. Its trunk is 6-15” in diameter, featuring reddish brown bark. This medium to slow-growing tree features long (2-5”), glossy leaves and tiny fragrant blooms in spring and early summer. Produces red berries that ripen to deep purple. Moderately salt and drought tolerant, Inkwood does best when planted in full sun to partial shade. Hardiness zones 10-12.
Guaiacum Sanctum, Lignum Vitae
The Lignum Vitae is a beautiful native of Florida and the Caribbean; and is the national tree of the Bahamas. Its dense, dark green, thick and waxy foliage make it desirable as small, ornamental tree. Its wood is prized for its denseness. A slow grower, Lignum Vitae has an average height of 10-15’ with an equally sized canopy spread. 5-petaled flowers are most often seen in spring, and are typically blue to purple. They are occasionally seen in white, and are lightly fragranced. Heart shaped, flat fruit capsules contain one or two seeds which push from the fruit when ripe. Plant in partial to full sun. Lignum Vitae is moderately drought tolerant and salt tolerant as well. Hardiness zones 10b-11.
Pseudophoenix Sargentii, Buccaneer Palm
A very slow grower, the Buccaneer Palm thrives in hot, tropical weather. Its single, smooth, gray trunk is ringed with the scars of palm fronds that have shed. It grows to be about 15’ tall. One of its features is its swollen trunk, and the variation in its frond colors, which may be green, light green, blue green, or silver. This makes each Buccaneer truly unique. Fronds may grow up to 15’ long, and generally self shed. Native to Florida and the Caribbean, fronds stems spread out in a flat, fan-shaped pattern. Salt and drought tolerant, this palm is pest-free as well. Plant in full sun or partial shade. Hardiness zones 10a-11.
Suriana Maritima, Bay Cedar
This slow to moderately growing evergreen shrub can reach up to 20’ tall, but is typically smaller. Found mainly around sand dunes and rocky shores, Bay Cedar features a sturdy, branched trunk with dark brown, rough, flaky bark. Its wood is hard and heavy. Small, fleshy, gray green leaves have a cedar like fragrance when crushed. Yellow cup shaped flowers are set among the leaves in singles or clusters, and can be seen throughout the year. Plant in full sun, Bay Cedar is drought and salt tolerant. Hardiness zones 10b-11.
Wedelia Trilobata, Wedelia
Also known as Singapore Daisy, Creeping Oxeye or Trailing Daisy, Wedelia is in the sunflower family. This dense ground cover can be invasive, and will form a mat that blooms profusely. Flowers are bright yellow, about 1”, and feature 8-13 petals per head. Wedelia will grow to a height of 6-12”, and spreads very quickly. Fleshy, hairy leaves are dark green above, and light green below. Rounded stems root at the node. Wedelia likes full sun, is drought tolerant when established, and is salt tolerant as well. Hardiness zones 8b-11.
Canella Winterana, Wild Cinnamon Tree
Wild Cinnamon Tree can reach 20-30’ tall, spreading 6-8’ wide. Shiny, thick , leaves are medium to olive green in color, and are on thin branches that grow to a maximum of 4’ long. This evergreen shrub or small tree may be trained into a canopy, but it is most often used as a hedge. It’s a dense, slow grower, which features small red-orange flowers that will bloom in summer and fall. Blooms are followed by bright red berries which cluster at the end of the branches. A Florida native, plant in full sun or partial shade for best results. Wild Cinnamon is drought and salt tolerant. Hardiness zones10b-11.
These beautiful plants are not only cold hardy; many are drought tolerant as well. Tough, slow and steady growers, some of these plants are cold hardy to as low as 0 degrees. Who would have thought that many palms, including the Pindo Palm, Butia Capitata, Windmill Palm, Trachycarpus Fortune and the Chinese Fan Palm, Livistona Chinensis, are all cold hardy? How about the Yucca Filamentosa Color Guard, Agave Potatorum Blue Glow, and so many more that we grow at Island Tropical? Protect your investment by planting cold hardy plants and trees, and sleep well when the weather takes unexpected dips.
Butia Capitata Pindo Palm or Jelly Palm
A slow and steady grower, the Pindo Palm, also referred to as the Jelly Palm, features beautiful blue-silver feathery pinnate fronds that arch inwards towards a thick, stout trunk. Fronds may grow up to 10’ long, on a trunk that grows to a diameter that is over 12”. Pindo Palm will grow to a height of 15-20’, and is consider a hardy, low maintenance palm. Fruit may be seen in the summer, and is the size of a large cherry, yellow/orange in color, with a texture similar to a loquat and a taste that is tart/sweet, described as a mixture of pineapple, vanilla, and apricot. Best known for its cold tolerance and beautiful, unique fronds, Pindo Palm is moderately salt tolerant and is also drought tolerant. Plant in full sun or partial shade. Hardiness zones 8b-11.
Agave Potatorum Blue Rose
This dramatic agave has blue-green foliage with red margins that are edged with yellow. Salt and drought tolerant, the Blue Rose makes an excellent container plant. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees, and will grow to a maximum of 2' high by 2' wide. Likes full sun and is hardy in zones 8-11.
Yucca Filamentosa Color Guard
Known for its elegant, dramatic sword shaped leaves, Yucca Color Guard features variegated foliage, dark green with creamy white stripes. Also known as Adam’s Needle, this cold hardy succulent makes a dramatic accent plant. It is fast growing to about 4’ tall and 4’ wide. Showy white flowers bloom on spikes in the summer. A very low maintenance plant, Yucca Color Guard is best when planted in partial to full sun. It is tolerant of wind, heat and humidity, drought and salt tolerant too. Hardiness zones 4-10.
Trachycarpus Fortunei Windmill Palm
Also known as the Chinese Windmill Palm, this attractive palm is perhaps the most popular palm due to its cold hardiness and adaptability. It may be used indoors or outdoors; growing well in shade, but is also adaptable to full sun. Its narrow trunk (8-10” in diameter) grows a thick, fibrous husk which protects it from freezing temperatures. Upward growing dark green to yellow green circular fan shaped fronds form a symmetrical crown, making it desirable as an accent plant in the landscape. Windmill palms are slow growers, only growing 6-12” per year, and they do not shed. Palms mature at a height of 15-20’, with a spread of 5-10’. A deciduous plant, flowers are yellow or green, and are held on 3’ long branched stalks. Female plants produce an inedible fruit that is ½” in diameter, turning blue-black when ripe. Moderately drought and salt tolerant, the Windmill withstands strong winds as well. Hardiness zones 7-11.
Ficus Carica Black Mission Fig
Native to Spain, the Black Mission Fig is one of the most commonly grown fig trees. Black Mission Figs grow and ripen during the late summer and early fall. It grows best in warmer climates, and produces a purplish-black pear shaped fruit with pink/ red flesh. (USDA Hardiness zones 7, 8-10)
Livistona Chinesis Chinese Fan Palm
Also known as Fountain Palm, due to the dropping tips of its long fronds (producing a fountain like effect), the cold tolerant Chinese Fan Palm features a beautiful symmetrical crown. The average height of this moderate grower is 30’, with an average spread of 10-12’. Large green fronds (6’) extend from the straight trunk, and feature sharp spines on the leaf stems. Moderately drought tolerant, this is a fairly hardy palm. White flowers are inconspicuous and hidden among the leaves. They are followed by small, blue-black fruit. Plant in full sun, or in partial shade. Hardiness zones 8b-11.
Sabal Palmetto Cabbage Palm Sabal Palm
A robust, cold tolerant palm that is very popular in its native southeastern United States, the Sabal Palm is considered a dramatic palm due to its straight, stout trunk and dense crown. Tall and stately, this palm can reach heights of 60’, with up to a 25’ canopy. The trunk’s diameter grows to 2’. Also known as Cabbage Palm, Palmetto Palm, or Cabbage Palmetto, Sabal Palm is one of 15 Palmetto Palm species. When grown in sun, foliage will be light green; in shade, a darker green. Mature trees feature crowns of 15-25 fronds, which are often be 10 to 15’ long each. Often used on beaches, this palm was named Florida’s State Tree in 1953, and although often planted singly, is also seen in clusters. Drought tolerant (when established) and salt tolerant,this tough tree only grows about 1’ per year, and has been known to live for 100 years. Mid-summer flowers are white, held on long branches that are held within the crown. Hardiness zones 8-10.