Tropicals for your borders

Hardy exotic plants for the garden

Flowerbeds and beds are the undisputed stars of our gardens. We can love them either pure or exuberant, geometric or free of any apparent structure. In many parts of the world, more and more cold-hardy tropical plants are being incorporated. We tell you more (continued at the bottom of the page).

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    What is a flowerbed ?

    Definition of a flowerbed 

    A flowerbed is a strip of land, in a garden, intended to beautify it. It is planted with moderately sized plants; the eye should easily be able to pass over it.

    Where to install a flowerbed in a garden?

    Most of the time, it borders another planted area, such as a vegetable garden, a pond..., or a construction, such as a wall, a terrace, a swimming pool, or even the house itself.

    Often built lengthwise and relatively narrow, it can also be raised above ground level.

    What is the purpose of a flowerbed in a garden?

    The flowerbed visually delimits an area whose purpose is not only to break up perspectives, but above all to decorate the garden. It is designed, thought out, elaborate, meticulously maintained; the plants are led, pruned, they are left little or nothing to themselves.

    In fact, it's inadvisable to walk in the flowerbeds, given their meticulous upkeep. Hence the popular expression "stepping on someone's flowerbeds", which means encroaching on their domain, or even doing something forbidden!

    What is a plant bed ? 

    A plant bed is a particular form of flower bed, less long and narrow, but more geometrically round, square, rectangular, curved... It often features the same type of plant in large numbers alongside another well-represented type of plant, for a reinforced, homogeneous visual effect. This second variety can be taller.

    How to design a plant bed or flowerbed? 

    Which tropical plants to choose for a bed or flowerbed? 

    There are three main types of bedding plants: annuals (they grow, flower and die in the same year, like Roselle or Globe amaranth), biennials (they flower in the second year and then die, like Pride of Madeira) and perennials (will stay put if their hardiness matches the winter temperatures of the planting site).

    Annuals and biennials have the advantage of blooming quickly and being able to vary your flowerbeds as they are replaced regularly. On the other hand, they are more labor-intensive, and their purchase price is inevitably higher.

    Perennials, on the other hand, have the advantage of having time to settle in well, contributing to a more pronounced visual effect, while offering a wide range of choices. They can be pruned and trained in a thousand different ways, creating a relationship that's built up over the long term!

    These three types of plant can, of course, be mixed in your beds.

    How to arrange plants in a bed or flowerbed? 

    If you opt for a mix of annuals and perennials

    For the best practical as well as visual effect, give preference to exotic perennials in areas that are less accessible and further away from the traffic zone. This will make it easier for you to change annuals, while perennials will be able to spread and grow quietly.

    If you opt for a bed composed solely of perennials

    Pay particular attention to the height of the plants: the tallest (including the height of the flowering stems, like the Giant honey flower !) and most spectacular (spectacular-sized leaves, extensive development, like the Sago palm) should be placed at the back of your plant bed. At the front, opt for smaller, full-sun perennials like Boat lily, or with visually airy foliage like African Iris plant. You can also finish off your beds with plants that cover the edges, such as Mexican Flame vine.

    Gardening tips for flowerbeds

    For a flower bed that blooms all year round, remember to alternate flowering periods.

    For late summer, think Leopard lily, this pretty little perennial iris, will offer you it’s pretty spotted flowers from late July to late September.

    For winter, consider the American beautyberry, which brightens up the cold season with its small purple berries.

    Be careful with colors, two to three blooming colors are more than enough, opt rather for declensions in the same color than for a juxtaposition of very different colors.

    Of course, our winters aren't what they used to be, but play it safe and keep a margin of safety when it comes to hardiness.

    For your exotic perennials :

    - bear in mind that the hardiness levels given on Rayon de Serre are those of mature specimens; a year's development in a pot is always a good idea;

    - beware of wind ;

    - always opt for draining soils; clayey or heavy soils are prohibitive for growing tropical plants outdoors.

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