Let’s talk about tropical-style gardens. They are becoming increasingly popular across Australia, as many try to create a holiday setting in the comfort of their own home.
Plus, tropical plants are so wonderfully accustomed to our climate that they make a worthwhile option. Though most may automatically revert to extravagant palms or Bird of Paradise plants, there are some fantastic Australian tropical plants that will ensure your garden is endemic and still eccentric.
10 Tropical Plants in Australia
The beauty of tropical plants is that they are well-suited to grow in shaded areas, meaning they grow in most environments, whether indoors, outdoors or under a canopy.
However, many growers don’t know the incredible array of Australian native tropical plants. The benefit of growing native tropical plants is that you’re almost guaranteed that they will grow big, bold and beautiful, all year round.
They’re not only accustomed to our climates but the soil, temperature and extreme weather conditions too. Are you looking to start growing some tropical plants in Australia?
Here are 10 of our favourite Australian tropical plants you can start growing today:
Nothing says tropical, much like a good cycad. Macrozamia is a large-leafed, shade-loving variety. This slow-growing cultivar has large, dark green, palm-like leaves which give off a fantastically tropical feel.
Macrozamia prefer grainy, sandy soil, so you won’t need to worry about poorer soil conditions. For larger varieties, it will need some occasional sunlight. However, small varieties will grow happily in full shade.
When growing this cultivar, take care to give it plenty of water in the first few years. Thereafter, it can be left to grow on its own.
Check out our in-depth guide to growing Cycads to learn more about this prehistoric plant.
Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Much like the cycad, a fern is a tropical staple plant. If you’re looking for the perfect tropical plants in Perth, then look no further than the Bird’s Nest Fern. Its large and luscious leathery foliage tends to give the ultimate rainforest effect.
This cultivar is well suited to both container growing and outdoor garden growing. More so, it is well suited to both full sun and partial shade conditions. You can find out more about this incredible native species here.
Lilly Pilly (Syzygium smithii)
Now, Lilly Pilly might not be your first choice when it comes to tropical plants, but this tropical native has a lot of benefits. Lilly Pilly, or Syzygium Smithii, is best known for its dark and dense foliage.
Often used as a hedging or screening plant, this cultivar will bring a wide range of wildlife to your garden. Originating in regions around Victoria, this cultivar is perfect for those looking for native plants in Melbourne.
Lilly Pilly will need sufficient space and some slightly salty, well-draining growing medium. You’ll also need to make sure you keep up with regular maintenance of this plant, as it can overgrow quite quickly.
Here's our review on the best hedge trimmers to help you in your hedging project.
Kangaroo Paw (Angiozanthas)
Perhaps you may want a tropical plant with a little extra eccentricity? Kangaroo Paw, the floral emblem for Western Australia, is one of the most curious and quirky native plants in Perth.
Also known as Angiozanthas, this cultivar is a fuzzy type of flora and a great way to add a pop of texture and colour to your tropical garden.
The only issue with the cultivar is that you will need to provide some full-sun conditions in order for it to produce a fair amount of flowers.
New plants will also need a lot of additional watering, but thereafter, it’s best to water sparingly. You can discover everything you need to know about this cultivar in our complete growing guide.
Fan Palm (Licuala Ramsay)
The Fan Palm, or Licuala Ramsay, is a spectacular variety of tropical plants in Brisbane. This incredible feature plant produces a decorative crown with rounded leaves that can span as much as 2 metres wide.
In the right conditions, these palms can grow as much as 15 metres tall. Luckily, however, these palms are incredibly easy to grow and will only require some well-draining fertile soil.
You may need to supplement younger palms with plenty of water in the first year of growth, but once established, they’re relatively hassle-free.
Finger Limes (Citrus australasica)
Finger Limes or Citrus australasica are not only a native Australian delicacy. These slow-growing, smaller trees can be a great addition to a tropical garden.
Especially as their large, hanging fruits offer a very tropical feel. This cultivar can be grown in pots or in the ground but will require a rich, composted growing medium.
While they may take 5 to 6 years to begin bearing a significant fruit harvest, the nutrient-packed fruits are definitely worth the wait. Especially for those looking for tropical plants in Sydney, finger lime trees are a great choice.
Sydney Rock Orchid (Dendrobium speciosum)
Some other well-known tropical plants in Sydney include the Sydney Rock Orchid. These are a great option for those looking for a show-stopping floral plant to add to their array of tropical foliage.
These plants are incredibly robust and only require a little bit of sun to bloom. Sydney rock orchids can be grown both in the pot or in the ground; however, well-draining soil is absolutely essential.
This species is also known to be drought-tolerant, so you won’t need to worry too much should you forget to water them.
Refer to our comprehensive guide to growing Dendrobium speciosum and its different varieties.
Wax Flower (Chamelaucium)
The Waxflower, or chamelaucium, is an endemic species to Western Australia and another great choice for those who want to add a floral touch to their tropical landscaping.
The Waxflower is also one of the most commercially revered flowers throughout Australia. Although this species is both frost and drought tolerant, you will want to ensure a little bit of maintenance and some well-draining soil.
The Waxflower is mainly used to compose bouquets by international flower delivery services, significantly adding originality to them.
Elkhorn or Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)
Platycerium, more commonly known as Elkhorn fern, is an incredible epiphytic species that not only resembles antlers but gives a distinctive tropical rainforest feel.
These low-maintenance plants grow freely and easily along branches, tree trunks and wooden logs. This species prefers some light shade and warmer, more humid climates, making it a suitable option for coastal regions.
As it’s an epiphyte, the elkhorn fern doesn’t require any soil to root and will draw all of its water and nutrients from the air.
Get to know more Staghorn fern varieties and how to grow them in Australia.
Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
Also known as the Bower Vine, Pandorea Jasminoides, is one of the most well-known tropical plants in Brisbane. This climber and creeper is low maintenance and incredibly hardy whilst still offering a delicate, floral feel.
This flowering vine is found growing wildly throughout many tropical and sub-tropical rainforests and is an incredibly fast grower.
Whether along with trees in your garden, or surrounding pergolas or archways, this fantastic flowering species will attract plenty of nectar feeders like the Eastern Spinebill to your garden.
The Best Place to Buy Australian Tropical Plants
There are some really incredible nurseries across the country where you can source all of these incredible tropical plants. You can browse national online stores such as Nurseries Online, or look at native nurseries within your areas.
For those in search of tropical plants in Sydney, you can look at:
For native tropical plants in Perth, you can look at:
In Queensland, you’ll find some of the best tropical plants in Brisbane, by visiting:
For those in search of tropical plants in Melbourne, you can visit:
Get ready to start celebrating the incredible plant life we have in Australia when you decide to buy Australian tropical plants.
Whether you’re looking to create a tropical oasis in your backyard or just want to add a few tropical plants to the mix, there are so many incredible tropical plants in Australia for you to choose from.
Plus, with Aussie Green Thumb, we have a range of growing and care guides designed specifically for these fantastic tropical plants in Australia. Start exploring and growing today!