Plant the Look - Tropical Island palms
Have you always dreamt of a tropical island style garden?

Do you wish you could be cracking open a fresh coconut on the beach right now, the lilting strains of a ukelele enticing you to dance?

We show you how to create the look of a tropical island garden in your own back yard.

Tropical Island Garden Style - lush and leafy

alocasia and palms in volcanic landscape Your dream destination might be the surf beaches of Hawaii, the atolls of Tahiti, or the luxury resorts of Polynesia.

The nations are very different, but the plants that unite them span the vast Pacific Ocean.

There are two notable styles of gardening which come to mind when thinking about tropical islands, but they share common threads.


ginger and waterfallThe first tropical style is found inland, up on the mountainsides and shady valleys.

Big lush leaves washed clean by rain; big bright flowers on long stems...

towering coconut palms, travellers palms, banana palms with broad shading fronds to capture sunlight in shady rainforests.

All that tropical rain, steamy humidity, and fertile volcanic soil, feeds and nourishes immense plant growth and abundant colour all year round.

Which means that plants grow luxuriantly, nestled against each other, leaves overlapping, as they reach for the warm sun above.


Tropical Island Garden Style - bright and bold

frangipani and coconut Coming down from the mountains, getting closer to the beach, tropical gardens get more decorative - and more resilient, as they have to cope with sandy soils, salt sprays and sea breezes.

The green landscape turns into a verdant backdrop of big leaves, for showy flowering shrubs.

Like the multi-coloured birds flying on the breeze, the multi-coloured flowers blooming all year round add life and movement to this second style of tropical garden.

Pomegranate red, banana yellow, papaya, mango, and watermelon pink - fruity flower colours glow in the sunshine, and clamour for attention.

Don't be afraid to mix the colours up in the same garden bed - like a tropical fruit salad!


hibiscus El Capitolo wear your flowers Tropical flowers tend to grow on the large size in this warm generous climate, and are often full of petals for a ruffled frilled look.

So be bold and choose the ones with most colour impact and the biggest blooms, for a true tropical feeling.


Remember to pick a perfect flower to wear - tucked behind your ear, or around your neck in a sweetly-scented garland of petals, island-style.


Tropical Island Style Gardens - get the look

plants for the tropical island look Essential plants to get that tropical island look are leafy palms, especially those with large soft arching fronds or broad flat leaves.

Underplant with giant green leaves - gingers, cordylines, and alocasia.

Double down on colour with big bold-flowered hibiscus, anthurium, ixora, flowering ginger and heliconia, and fragrant frangipani trees.

Hawaii in particular is renowned for pineapples - so make a space for at least one!

Allow for irrigation systems or a regular watering regime, and lots of plant food and rich fertile soil, to keep them looking totally tropically gorgeous.