Tropical Containers Ideas: Plants with REALLY BIG LEAVES


Tropical Containers Ideas: Plants with REALLY BIG LEAVES
  • Posted July 22, 2016

Tropical rainforests have an abundance of the things plants love: moisture, nutrients, sun and warmth. Plants naturally take advantage of the abundance, sometimes responding with mammoth dimensions. Gardeners can take advantage, too, creating an oasis with those tropical plants that bear leaves of exceptionally large proportions.


The keys to growing these in a pot are to use the biggest possible containers to grow them in; position them in a warm sunny location early in the growing season; drench the roots and leaves frequently; and give them plenty of high nitrogen fertilizer. With this simple recipe for success you'll be astounded what the following three plants can do for you.


Elephant's ear

Elephant's ear can refer to quite a few different species (including Alocasia and Colocasia), but all have the same general appearance. They grow from large tubers, each of which sends up a stalk with a single leaf on top that is at least the size of an elephant's ear if not larger.


Banana plants

Banana plants won't produce fruit without a year-round frost-free growing season, but many types are grown for their ornamental qualities, rather than their fruit. The leaves grow anywhere from 2-5' in length and form a small canopy on the thick, fleshy trunks. There are numerous varieties with colored foliage to choose from.


Gunnera

Gunnera looks like it belongs in the Jurassic period with its warty fronds of colossal proportions. There are many types of gunnera, including one species that holds the record for the largest leaves of any plant, measuring over 8' across. In container gardens here in North America, you won't be able to grow anything that big, but the gunneras available in your local nursery are capable of sprouting leaves 2-3' across.


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Taro, Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro, Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)

Huge, tropical leaves make Colocasia a classic choice for bringing a jungle-like feel to gardens and containers. Varieties are available with leaves in various shades from bright green to chocolate brown.

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Alocasia,  Elephant's Ear (Alocasia species)

Alocasia, Elephant's Ear (Alocasia species)

Easy-care plants add a tropical touch to the landscape. Worth growing for beautiful foliage alone. Boldly accents other selections. These unique plants are sure to attract attention!

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Bloodleaf, Blood Banana 'Zebrina' (Musa acuminata sumatrana)

Bloodleaf, Blood Banana 'Zebrina' (Musa acuminata sumatrana)

A great source of color and tropical flair. Big, bold leaves are green and burgundy-red on the surface with burgundy undersides. Provides a great play of color as the leaves blow in the breeze. Container-grown plants can be overwintered indoors if given ample space in a sunny…

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Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera manicata)

Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera manicata)

Massive foliage quickly unfurls in springtime to create an impressive display. The large leaves add a jungle-like feel to plantings. Long spikes of greenish-red flowers in summer are followed by cluster of tiny red-green fruit.

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.


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Tropical Containers Ideas: Plants with REALLY BIG LEAVES