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Tropical Colour – Whatever your Climate

Tropical Colour – Whatever your Climate

Tropic style weather is still a wee way off, but it’s not too early to plant our gardens with a trendy touch of the tropics. That fabulous look of lush abundance - powerful foliage spiked with dashes of vibrant colour - suits our South Pacific setting with its strong light and bright blue skies. It’s a look that’s not difficult to achieve, even in colder parts of the country. With a solid backbone of cold hardy plants to see us through the winter, we can bring on the tropical plants for summer, even if it means we have to over winter them in pots or simply grow them as summer annuals.

Colourful cannas are an excellent example of bold tropical plants that will grow in a wide range of climates. The modern ‘Tropicanna’ and its exciting new offspring ‘Tropicanna Gold’ are robust, fast, and long flowering offering an instant touch of the tropics to summer gardens everywhere. Tropicanna thrives as year round garden perennials in the warm humid north, but grown in pots or lifted for winter, it is enjoyed in frosty climates too. There are over fifty different canna species, giving rise to thousands of hybrids. Tropicanna is a direct descendent of just one species, C. indica, a South American native known as Indian Shot. Indian shot was popular in Victorian gardens due to spots and striped multicolored foliage. This trait is further enhanced in the highly successful Tropicanna, which has changed the way cannas are viewed in modern gardens. -more-

…2 Many gardeners grow Tropicannas just for their foliage, but they have long lasting flowers too. The original orange flowered Tropicanna packs a powerful punch with its beautiful leaves striped pink, red, yellow and green. With the sun shining from behind, the colours are almost translucent.

Award winning Tropicanna comes from the Anthony Tessealaar International family of superior, easy care plants and has become a leading favourite with gardeners and landscapers all over the world. This spring brings the eagerly awaited release of its New Zealand-born progeny. Tropicanna Gold was a chance finding by New Zealand nurseryman, Neil McCormick of Seaview Nurseries. It has bold green and gold striped foliage and vivid orange flower with yellow edging.

Planted together the two varieties make a remarkable pair in the garden. Both reach a mature height in just one season, up to 1.2m in the first year, and 1.8m in subsequent years. In large containers they will grow just over a metre. Both grow in full sun or partial shade and Tropicanna Gold will prove especially useful for lighting up shadier parts of the garden.

Tropicanna looks wonderful planted with soft shimmering grasses, flax, yuccas, day lilies, palms, silver foliage, clipped evergreens or conifers, and even roses (Flower Carpet Coral makes an especially good companion). But perhaps the absolute best association is to plant your Tropicanna in or near the water. They look great next to swimming pools, or on the margins of ponds. -more-

…3 In fact, Tropicanna and Tropicanna Gold are such moisture lovers that you can submerge them into a pond during summer. Try planting in a pot ( of at least 30cm diameter) placed with its rim just below the water line.

When grown in pots or as new plants in garden soil, Tropicanna needs watering. Although they will grow in any well-drained soil, one that retains some moisture is preferable to one that is too dry. A sheltered spot prevents wind shredding the leaves.

In mild climates Tropicanna can be left in the ground all year round. In temperate areas the foliage will die down in autumn. The plant burns black with freezing but a mild frost will leave the rhizomes unharmed and the roots will send fresh foliage in spring. Even in a sub-tropical climate, cutting down the foliage in winter is a good idea, as it promotes beautiful fresh spring growth. Mulching gives extra protection in marginal areas, but in really cold climates the rhizomes need lifting before they freeze. Once the autumn frost has killed the top growth, cut off the tops and dig up dense clumps of underground rhizomes. Store them in a cool dry place until its time to plant again in spring.

Spring is also the time to plant a number of other plants that will give your garden an exotic touch of the tropics for summer. NZ natives are especially useful for foliage impact and texture. The likes of cabbage trees, flax, coprosma, griselinia, puka, and Puriri add to the tropical feel. -more-

…4 For colour accent you can’t go past the hibiscus, either in pots or mixed through the garden with other subtropical shrubs. Anthony Tesselaar International has come up with two winning varieties, West Coast Red and West Coast Jewel (yellow and white), especially noteworthy for their flowers which last for up to two and a half days. West Coast Red seems to flower continuously if the weather is warm with dark glossy green foliage to set of its rich red, leather-textured blooms. Add extra accents of colour with Vireya Rhododendrons, clivia, daylilies, dahlias and gerberas. Fill pots and baskets with succulents, begonias, impatiens, nasturtium and coleus. All these annuals provide fantastic temporary colour for the summer months, and are inexpensively replaced next summer once the big freeze is over.

-ends- Attached pic shows Tropicanna For further information please contact Lisa Powlesland Marketingworkz 09 631 1234 021 890 984 lisa@marketingworkz.co.nz

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