Top 10 Tropical Garden Design Ideas

Top 10 tropical garden design ideas

South Florida sits  25° 46' 26" N / 80° 11' 38" W. That's the tropics, baby!

It's hot and humid during summer; breezy and temperate during fall and winter – a tropical climate that's perfect for sunbathing, swimming and ohhh yes, gardening. Miami is a mecca for growing exotic flowering trees, tropical fruit trees, fragrant shrubbery, orchids, vegetables, and hummingbird and butterfly flora. If you like to garden, like me, South Florida is a tropical garden designer's paradise!

The sun is always shining in South Florida, which makes for accelerated growth. Landscapes mature quickly in the Sunshine State, providing homeowners with instant satisfaction. No need to wait 40 years for a mature tree; we can grow it in half the time. That privacy hedge you long for can be had in just a couple years. Butterfly flora always blooming. Such a perfect climate for a tropical garden design.

Here are our top 10 tropical garden design ideas for South Florida.

1. Pergola

If you've got the space for it, then you need a pergola for an exotic flowering vine, like a Jade flower or New Guinea trumpet vine. Majestic structure with a stunning flower!

Tropical Garden Design: Jade Vine

Jade vine

2. Trumpet tree

The trumpets are sounding! This is what I always tell my clients when I plant this exotic flowering bush from the tropics of South America. The foot-long bell-shaped flowers are sweetly scented, with a variety of colors ranging from purple to coral. An amazing plant for any tropical garden design.

Tropical Garden Design: Sweetly Scented Trumpet Flowers

Sweetly scented trumpet flowers

3. New Guinea trumpet vine 

Want to cover up an old fence with something stunning and easy to grow? New Guinea trumpet vine is one of my favorite flowering vines. Vine grows quickly, treating you with hundreds of tubular hot pink flowers that will make your jaw drop in wonder.

Tropical Garden Design: New Guinea Trumpet Vine

New Guinea trumpet vine

4. Privacy hedge

Bamboo is my favorite impact plant and makes a wonderful privacy hedge. Fast growing, non-invasive clumping bamboo comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Plant some butterfly and hummingbird flora around your bamboo and you've got my favorite tropical garden design of them all: tropical butterfly zen.

Tropical Garden Design: Bamboo Hedge

Bamboo hedge

5. Hummingbirds

You'd think we'd have more hummingbirds in tropical Florida than we do, but we're only graced with their presence from November to April 1st. Don't bother with the hummingbird feeders; you'll attract ants and wasps. Instead, plant Turk's cap, ruby red pentas, firespike, and firebush. You'll be guaranteed to have hummingbirds visit your tropical garden in no time.

Tropical Garden Design: Hummingbird Nectaring on Hibiscus

Hummingbird nectaring on hibiscus

6. Koi pond

Tropical zen gardens wouldn't be complete without a Koi pond. Imagine the zen feel of colorful Koi swimming in a pond surrounded by papyrus, water lilies, and iris.

Tropical Garden Design: Koi


7. Tropical fruit trees 

No tropical garden design would be complete without tropical fruit trees like mango, papaya, banana, avocado, and mulberry. Rejuvenate your soil with organic material and plant away!

Tropical Garden Design: Jackfruit


8. Butterfly gardens

As a landscape designer in Miami for over 20 years, I've become very fond of the numerous native butterflies we have in South Florida. I've also become a specialist in attracting these beautiful creatures to my gardens. By planting flowers like ruby red penta, lantana, milkweed, corky stem and porterweed, your tropical garden design will become a sanctuary overnight.

Tropical Garden Design: Monarch Nectaring on a Daisy

Monarch nectaring on a daisy

9. Tropical flowering trees

As a member of the tropical flowering tree society, I get to exchange horticulture information with tropical flowering tree collectors from around the world. As a designer, one of my favorite trees to plant for my clients is the joy perfume tree. Loaded with jasmine-scented white blooms, this tree is a focal point of any tropical garden design.

Tropical Garden Design: Joy Perfume Tree

Joy perfume tree

10. Exotic flowers

No tropical garden design would be complete without exotic flowers like monkey brush, passion flower and the bat plant. The bat plant flower from Thailand is over 20 inches long from the top of the hood to the base of its whiskers.

Tropical Garden Design: Bat Flower

Bat flower

Need help getting started?

Brent has been creating tropical garden designs in Miami and South Florida for over 20 years. His knowledge of the soil, plant selection, and maintenance makes him a specialist in this field.

Brent provides in-person consultations as well as garden design and installation. Why not call Brent and speak to him personally to discuss your needs and ideas. It's time to beautify your landscape and get the tropical garden you've always dreamed of!

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