Patio with tropical style houseplants

Turn your patio into a tropical retreat.

When you think of a tropical oasis you may picture exotic plants with brightly colored flowers, or colossal leaves from another age eclipsing the sun and providing shady relief from the heat, and the birds’ unceasing trills, chatter and chirping, mixed with the sound of trickling water in the distance.

This is exactly the kind of vacation we are ready for! While this daydream may inspire us to book a trip to the farthest tropical island, thankfully we can achieve the same effect in our own backyards. We just have to get a little creative.

Add color and texture to your summer yard.

To create a relaxing island-like getaway, start with color! Bright and bold colors in your patio furniture, cushions, umbrellas, and planters. Consider different textures for your containers including woven baskets, painted terra cotta, and natural materials.

Next, add a water feature like a small fountain or bird bath. You’ll be rewarded by a tranquil background of babbling water and you’ll receive many grateful little visitors looking for their own oasis in the summer heat.

Don’t forget to add color and texture in the form of annual and perennial blooms! The brighter the better to attract pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Bromeliads add a tropical feel and a bold pop of color.

Create a tropical jungle atmosphere with your houseplants.

Live vicariously through your houseplants and take THEM on a summer vacation to your patio. Yes, you read that right. They can take it. They do exist in nature, so it’s going to be okay to take them out of the safe cocoon of your living room. You’re allowed to continue to baby them a bit at first; when you bring them outdoors, be aware of their needs and find locations where they will do well.

According to our friends at Espoma, you will want to place them in the shade for a few hours each day to acclimate them. It will only take a few weeks to adapt to the light and then plants can stay outside until the end of the summer. Similar to being indoors, don’t place plants in direct light, if they prefer indirect.

Try these houseplants:

The broad leaves of the Heartleaf Philodendron lend a lush tropical feel to your patio in the summer months.

Create a lush, tropical jungle atmosphere by building up layers of plants and visual interest. Combine these houseplants with annuals, perennials, and shrubs in containers.

  • Guzmania - Bromeliads
  • Epipremnum - Pothos
  • Ferns, Nephrolepis ‘Kimberly Queen’ and Nephrolepis ‘Jester’s Crown’
  • Succulents (Al’s carries a charming succulent planter that will enhance any patio)
  • Philodendron cordatum - Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Monstera deliciosa - Split Leaf Philodendron
  • Chlorophytum – Spider Plants

All of the plants listed above need morning sun. The ferns and Philodendron cordatum - Heartleaf Philodendron - require all day shade, but all the rest need afternoon shade since they’ve been grown indoors and have not acclimated to full hot summer sun.

Keep in mind that you may need to water your houseplants more often than when they were living indoors. The airflow outside dries out the plants much faster.

All good things must come to an end.

Meyer lemon trees work great in containers in the Northwest!

Like all vacations, this one will also come to an end and the time will come to return home. Make sure you move your plants indoors by Labor Day, and wash thoroughly in case any insects are hanging around. You may also want to spray with Neem and put Systemic in the soil. Keep these plants separate from the other indoor plants to avoid contamination.

If you want to play it safe and really take precautions against bringing insects or disease back indoors, treat these particular outdoor adventurers as an annual.

The only exception is your Meyer lemon tree. These are very mobile plants in the Pacific Northwest, and enjoy a summer on the patio, moving to a protected area in the winter, only spending their time indoors on the coldest days and nights.