Tropical Landscape in Dallas? You Bet!

No matter where you live, you can enjoy a bit of the topics in your garden with a little bit of planning and careful plant selection.

Our Guest Blogger is Jenny Wegley, Director of Research and Greenhouse, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.


Tropicanna planting

Canna Tropicanna planted in mass accented with a full planting of mums in the foreground

As a horticulturist at Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens the question I get the most from visitors – right behind “What kind of turf is this?” and ‘Where are the restrooms?’, is:  “What can I plant that can take living on the surface of the sun?” (That is what a Dallas, Texas summer can feel like.)

Well . . . I usually ask “What feel do you want to give your garden?” I also explain picking the right plant makes or breaks a landscape.  I’ve found that a key to success is to choose plant material that not only lives here but thrives here with minor care. This truly makes gardening rewarding and enjoyable.

Here in Dallas there are several options including perhaps a Texas native theme, southwest native theme, or maybe even a tropical theme.  Yes, you read right. I did say a tropical feel is possible in North Central Texas. For the fun of it, I thought I’d provide some hints on how to achieve the tropical theme for your landscape.   No matter what area of the country you live in – there are several options that can work for you.

Canna ‘Tropicanna’ can make your garden feel like the Oceanside tropics that we all want to escape to.   So, sit back, put on your sunscreen and sip your Pina Colada while we discuss. Canna ‘Tropicanna’ is an amazing new hybrid in Canna breeding. What creates more of a tropics feel than a Canna in the middle of a summer? Tropicanna is a whirlwind of burgundy, red, pink, yellow, gold, and deep green with each leaf creating a different hue of color. Tropicanna are tall stands of spears that demand attention from yards away.  Atop these spears are lily-shaped orange tangerine flowers that cover Tropicanna all summer long. When it starts to get hot Tropicanna starts to kick into bloom.  These stalks will reach 4’ in the first season and 6’ in the second year.


Luscious ‘Tropicanna’ canna blossom

Place Tropicanna in a container with some Ipomoea or Euphorbia to accent the foliage and flower color.   Or perhaps try planting it with Bougainvillea.  Other plants that will add a nice tropical fee might be: Tropical Hibiscus, Pride of Barbados, Hamellia patens, or Tecoma stans.

Once you’ve got your container planted, you can place it right n the landscape for an amazing focal point or in mass or add it to your patio or porch.   I love Tropicanna because when it’s backlit by the sun this beauty shimmers and glows adding one more dynamic feature to an already great plant.  Another reason I love  the Tropicanna variety of Canna is that it’s is not picky about soil type or even water consumption.  If you want it to look fabulous, plant in a rich soil and above average water is suggested, but it will look great in average soil with average watering. If you start to see wear and tear cut back to soil level and let it re-flush.

Once it’s in bloom feel free to bring the tropics inside and place a stalk of ‘Tropicanna’ in your favorite vase.  Enjoy!


A Bit about our Guest Blogger, Jenny Wegley . . .


Jenny Wegley, Director of Research and Greenhouse, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden


A lover of nature, Jenny grew up in Midlothian, a small town 25 miles south of Dallas. She was the kid playing in the flower bed still in diapers – most likely eating dirt as well!  She had her “first garden” at the ripe old age of 3, her first succulent trials at the age of 15 and built her first koi pond at 16.   Jenny graduated with a B.S. in Horticulture from Stephen F. Austin State University and after a short stint in retail after graduation started at the Dallas Arboretum in 2009.    She is now director of research and greenhouse there still playing in the dirt.


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One Response to Tropical Landscape in Dallas? You Bet!

  1. Patricia Riedman Yeager September 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    I love the mums accenting the Tropicannas.
    I live in North Central Texas and just planted some small Tropicannas in early September. Will they bloom for me before the frost?

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