Imagine arriving at clearing in the jungle. There is a deep blue pool of water before you with a gentle waterfall burbling over moss-covered rocks in the background. The air is warm and heavy with moisture, the water temperature is just right. All around you the tropical vegetation seems to pulsate, beckoning you into the water for a swim. Fern fronds bob in the breeze, waving you forward. Flowering vines wind their way through the dense foliage, emerging here and there with white flowers and a smell you can't describe, but you imagine it must be the fragrance of heaven. This is paradise — dive in.
That's what landscaping with tropical plants is all about, creating your own personal paradise. Here are three species that are guaranteed to do the trick.
Tree Ferns are just what their name implies — a small trunk with a canopy of fern fronds. There are several species available, but most will top out at just 6 or 8 feet tall in a large pot. You can create a tropical oasis with smaller ferns, too, but a tree fern sets the stage like nothing else.
Madagascar Jasmine is unrelated to most other plants that go by the jasmine name, but it bears a superficial resemblance to them. However, its cosmic fragrance and soft, refined look make it the queen of tropical vines. Mist it regularly to mimic the humidity of the rainforests that it comes from. You could even consider growing it up the trunk of your tree fern.
Cycads are exotic palm-like plants that fit perfectly into an oasis planting. A species called sago palm is the most commonly seen cycad in nurseries and looks like a palm tree without a trunk (though it will eventually grow a very short stout trunk). Its fine foliage and super-symmetrical leaflets make it a great specimen to position under the soothing canopy of a tree fern.