Got a tangled mess in your backyard and not sure what you want to do with it? Consider growing a jungle garden. With a little creativity and a few jungle-like plants, you can easily transform a messy landscape into a tropical paradise. You don’t need to live in the tropics in order to enjoy these exotic environments. You don’t need to be an expert in growing tropical plants. All you need to create a tropical oasis is rich, well-drained soil in a sunny location and a few basic guidelines.
Most people are apprehensive when it comes to growing tropical plants because of their exotic appearance and hot, humid surroundings. And while these plants may seem impossible to grow outside of a tropical rainforest, they are not. There are numerous varieties of jungle-like plants that are actually quite hardy and easy to care for. Some of the most commonly seen plants found growing in the jungle will also thrive in temperate regions. Some of these include ferns, hostas, bromeliads, wild ginger, bamboo, cycads, palms, begonias, bananas, and rhododendrons. There are many books, as well as online resources, that are packed with information from plant selection to growing suitable jungle plants. Becoming familiar with the basic guidelines for growing tropical-like plants, beforehand, is the first step when considering a jungle garden design.
Important factors to take into consideration in order to achieve the desired jungle effect are good soil preparation and closely packed foliage plantings. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Working compost or manure into the soil will accomplish this. Once the soil has been thoroughly prepared, you’re ready to set the stage for your backyard jungle. Remember, the purpose is to achieve a tropical atmosphere. Within a jungle environment, emphasis is typically placed on non-woody vegetation; therefore, you’ll want to focus on using a variety of foliage plants consisting of different colors, forms, and textures. Plants with striking foliage will add dimension while those having dramatic blooms will provide additional interest to the jungle garden.
Choose and plant the taller varieties first, such as palm trees, bananas, and bamboo. These taller plants will not only serve as focal points within the garden but will also provide much needed shade for the smaller understory vegetation that will be incorporated beneath. Evergreen shrubs can be placed next along with suitable understory plants like ferns, hostas, caladiums, elephant ears, and cannas. Climbing plants such as the trumpet vine will enhance the garden’s tropical effect as well; however, avoid planting varieties that could eventually overtake the garden or invade the surrounding landscape.
The jungle garden should not require much care once it’s established, other than watering. There’s no need for extensive pruning or weeding. Allow your jungle garden to remain as natural looking as possible. Applying a suitable layer of mulch will help retain moisture and keep weeds down. It is also a good source of nutrients for your plants. Winter protection may be needed for colder climates; therefore, you may want to consider implementing containers into the garden for less-hardy plant varieties such as bananas. These tropical beauties have no problem adjusting to a potted environment. In fact, these plants will not only thrive in containers but can be easily moved to warmer locations, such as inside the house, for over-wintering.
Containers can also provide an interesting alternative to anyone lacking adequate space for growing a jungle garden. By filling up a large container or even a group of numerous sized pots with various foliage plants, it’s still possible to bring a jungle touch to small areas such as patios or balconies. Another design option that can easily be included in the jungle garden is a pathway. Paths will provoke interest and curiosity as well as provide easy access for exploring children. Incorporate meandering paths throughout the garden or only one leading into a small clearing. A small clearing can make a great playground for adventurous kids or an exotic retreat for tired, busy adults looking to escape life’s stressful grasp. Add a playhouse for the little ones or seating for yourself and guests. Be creative; this is your jungle paradise. Design the garden to fit your individual tastes and requirements. With the help of numerous, widely available resources, you can easily create a tropical paradise in your own backyard.