A common question we get is asking for easy recommendations for more hardy tropical plants for a UK garden. No fuss, no bother, just something to help create the tropical look you desire. 

Having a tropical garden is a sliding scale of effort if you ask me, and I’ll always ask if you have any heated areas, or a frost free place, or even somewhere outside you can part heat like a poly tunnel. Obviously having anywhere like this will increase the types of plants you can have in your garden, as you can snuggle the tender plants through the winter. We have an article here on how to build a tropical garden if you are interested in reading further.

However, if you have a normal garden, with no space (or inclination nor budget) for a warmed poly tunnel then let me suggest a number of hardier tropical plants that would be right at home and that you won’t need to think about through the winter.

Phyllostachys aurea aureocaulis - Yellow-Groove Bamboo - 180-200cm

Phyllostachys aurea aureocaulis – Yellow-Groove Bamboo


Bamboo is always a great choice of foil for structured parts of the garden. Many people shy away from using bamboo in their garden for fear of it taking over and disappearing into the next door’s garden. Personally I’m a massive fan of Fargesia, they are almost all clumping varieties so you just don’t need to stress about it. I’ve written an article about clumping vs running bamboo here.

A fargesia like Robusta Campbell is an idea, and one I have in my own garden. If you want something a bit more ‘in your face’ then Phyllo is a great choice with bright yellow and golden culms reaching for the sky. Get some root barrier down, or even in a large pot if you desire. Instant, dramatic tropical feel.

Read more about Bamboo here, and where to buy


Dicksonia Antarctica is an easy choice. Not cheap, but they are so very much worth every penny. Don’t skimp and get the largest you can afford, they won’t grow much in your lifetime in this climate! These beauties can be left alone in a sheltered spot and love to be soaked as often as you can through the summer. I have auto drippers in mine to keep them moist for most of the year. One of the highlights of the garden, a true majestic almost jurassic tropical feel.

Read more about Tree Ferns here, and where to buy them

Hedychium densiflorum

Hedychium densiflorum


 There are so many types of hardy ferns, you can just find one to suit your space and light levels. Personally I love to see them all growing together, and I have many medium and small sized ferns around the base of my 6ft tree ferns.

Read more about Ferns here, and where to buy them


 Another great choice, and a plant that just keeps looking amazing year after year. There is something very elegant about Hedychium,  and late summer you’ll have a beautiful show of flowers and glorious scent. I have these growing right near my patio doors, as the scent is not one to be missed when enjoying the garden in the early evening. Have a look at Hedychium gardnerianum for majesty.

Read more about Hedychium here, and where to buy them


 I do love to grow hostas, granted I hate the slugs, but if you can grow them somewhere away from the slugs the large leaves add a great tropical feel to the garden. Hosta sum and substance is one of my favourites, and the size is perfect for most gardens. There are so many to choose from, and again another plant that always looks great in bulk.

Read more about Hostas here, and where to buy them

Buy Eucomis bicolor Pineapple lily6. EUCOMIS

Eucomis are a very tropical looking plant, with huge flower spikes that seem to come from nowhere. These are hardy, and just do their own thing through the winter. Super easy, no effort and a beautiful show when the flowers finally emerge. An easy pick for a tropical feel.

Read more about Eucomis here, and where to buy them


Dahlias are hardy enough to get through mild winters with lots of mulch or protection. I generally lift half my dahlias, and leave the rest in the ground.

Read more about Dahlias here, and where to buy them


 Just like Dahlias, they are mostly all hardy enough to leave in the solid through the winter assuming you can keep them fully mulched and tucked away. I usually lift the majority of Cannas in the winter, but have a couple of larger clumps that I just leave in the ground to do their own thing, and they always come back perfectly fine. Always be on the lookout for canna virus though, and if you see any it’s time for the plant to go in the incinerator.

Read more about Canna Plants here, and where to buy them

Trachycarpus fortunei buy online9. TRACHYCARPUS FORTUNEI

The king of palms for the UK tropical garden. These palms are the staple backbone of any tropical planting, very tolerant of all conditions and hardy for all seasons. Feed well and water often and you will be rewarded with good growth. In ideal conditions expect around a foot of growth a year.

Read more about Palm Trees here, and where to buy them


 Sporadically around the garden I like to have a few fuchsias, their beautiful flowers are great to just add a spot of colour in areas that are perhaps a bit less loved. Hardy, and pretty much set and forget.

Read more about Fucsias here, and where to buy them


 Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ is a great choice, much larger and faster growing. Nothing beats the Tetrapanax for sheer looks, and always gets the most attention from others. It’s a quick grower, and sends pups up all over the place. Easy to remove if you don’t want it spreading. I have couple of established Tetrapanax around the garden, hardy enough to get through most winters. 

Read more about Tetrapanax here and where to buy them

Phormium tenax variegata - New Zealand Flax - EXTRA LARGE SPECIMEN - 150-200cm tall

Phormium tenax variegata – New Zealand Flax


Another hardy backbone plant for the tropical garden, arching spears for architectural structure.  Suitable for sunny spots, as well as pot and containers you can move around as you see fit. They can grow pretty massive, but you can hack them back without an issue. Every garden needs a phormium.

Read more about Phormiums here, and where to buy them


A personal favourite of mine, it’s a tall thick grass that looks quite like a bamboo. Super impressive growth from the ground each spring. Hardy, and requires no effort or attention. I just drench it every time I walk past with the hose.

Read more about Arundo Donax here, and where to buy them


 Cordyline australis is another architectural backbone tropical plant that is very suitable here. There are a number of different types, but most are full hardy and pretty resilient to the cold. You can always tie up the leaves if you like, but I just leave them to it through the winter to fend for themselves.

Read more about Torbay Palms here, and where to buy them

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata


Traditionally a bog dwelling plant, huge almost solid leaves that sound amazing in the rain or being sprayed with the hose.They will grow huge if they have access to enough water. Ideal for the boggier parts of your garden, or places somewhere they can keep their feet wet, like next to a pond. The leaves turn to mush in the frosts, but generally retain enough shape to fall over and protect the crowns though the winter. I usually just stuff some straw around them and under the leaves if I’m feeling particularly kind that year, but they certainly don’t need it.

Read more about Gunnera here, and where to buy them


There are many types of Agave that sit quite happily down to -8C, although you need to make sure they are in very free draining areas. There are lots of plants like this that are from deserts, so super able to deal with cold just as long as they are dry. Some agaves however are fine in the wet and c0ld as long water doesn’t pool around roots and base and rot it to mush.

Read more about Agave here, and where to buy them


Paulownia tomentosa, a huge towering plant that is fully hardy and impressive to grow.

Read more about Paulownia here, and where to buy them

Crocosmia Lucifer

Crocosmia Lucifer


Persicaria microcephala. I have loads of this dotted around the garden, it provides a billowing foil of dark purple which contrasts nicely against the common greens of the garden. Almost impossible to kill by cold and damp, unless it dries out midsummer! Read more about Persicaria here, and where to buy them


Butia palm. Another hardy palm, with feathering fronds and impressive in the garden. We are fortunate to have lots of hardy palms available to us in Britain to choose from.

Read more about Butia Palms here, and where to buy them

20. CROCOSMIA Lucifer

Crocosmia are easy to grow and provide bursts of colour through many months. Set and forget, and pretty hardy.

Read more about Crocosmia lucifer here, and where to buy them

Musa Basjoo in July in the UK

Musa Basjoo in July in the UK


 The root hardy banana. OK so this is technically fringe, but I have to mention it. The roots are hardy, but the pseudostems are not. So if you leave this in the ground through the winter unprotected you’ll most likely lose the stem to the ground. It’s no problem tho as it’ll grow from the root again without an issue. Personally I wrap my musa basjoo through the winter to maintain the height, but that’s just personal preference.

Read more about Musa Basjoo Banana plants here, and where to buy them

Hopefully this article to help you find the best hardy tropical plants for your UK garden, and plants that you can actually grow easily, and usually all available to buy from your local specialist.

Enjoy your tropical garden.


Last Modified: May 9, 2022