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Garden Photo of the Day

Adapting to Shade in a Tropical Garden

A gardener learns what will grow in a challenging site

Geeta sent in these photos of a tropical garden.

I have been trying to create a garden with a tropical feel to it for the last four years after we moved in to this place. The soil was a thin layer with stones underneath, so planting was difficult. I had to buy some garden soil to layer on top, but it still wasn’t enough for deeper-rooting plants. There were budget constraints, and I was excited and in a hurry, so I started planting in whatever condition the soil was. Another issue with the place was the presence of tall trees all around, which meant that the trees would lean over from the neighbors’ yard too, so sunlight was at a premium. I planted hibiscus, alamanda, plumeria—all flowering plants—but they hardly bloomed. Then I planted some shade-loving plants such as dracaena, arelia, and wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina), all of which are growing well. Some turtle vine (Callisia repens) has grown as a ground cover. The wandering Jew has also grown wild. Then there is the coleus, which has become quite an attention grabber. A scattering of curry leaf tree (Murraya koenigii), four coconut trees, a mango tree, a small corner landscape, and a few other plants form my garden. It’s beginning to shape up, and I am loving the way it’s developed, though there is a lot more to do.

Shade-loving tropical plants fill this garden. Even if you don’t live somewhere where these plants can grow outside all year, they can be grown as annuals and then brought inside as houseplants for the winter.


A beautiful sago palm (Cycas revoluta, Zones 9–10). Not a true palm, this plant is actually a cycad, an ancient group of primitive plants.


Spectacular palm fronds provide a backdrop for the garden but also cast too much shade for some flowering plants.


The tree on the right looks like a papaya, which has beautiful and interesting leaves in addition to its delicious fruit.


A shady nook is planted with shade-loving plants in containers.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/02/2019

    Geeta, would love to know where you live. Florida or one of the islands, maybe? Anyway, it certainly looks like you are growing many things in a shady situation. So very nice!

    1. chamcham 10/02/2019

      In India

      1. chamcham 10/02/2019

        and thanks.

  2. cheryl_c 10/02/2019

    Your yard looks like it is all garden! Wow, so brimming with plants. Looks like you've solved at least some of your soil issues by using containers VERY successfully. I also love the next to last picture with the raised beds - the trees next to the wall are very effective. Thanks for sharing!

    1. chamcham 10/02/2019

      Thank you. Yes, I have used a lot if containers. Easier to shift as the sun or weather changes.

    2. chamcham 10/02/2019

      You can also check out my Youtube channel 'Geeta's glorious garden and pets' incase you are interested in getting a better idea of my garden.

  3. BTucker9675 10/02/2019

    Love the branch and hummingbird artwork on the wall! This is a very pretty garden with all of the interesting foliage shapes and colors.

    1. chamcham 10/02/2019

      Thanks a lot. Very encouraging.

    2. chamcham 10/02/2019

      You can also check out my Youtube channel 'Geeta's glorious garden and pets' incase you are interested in getting a better idea of my garden.

  4. User avater
    SimpleSue 10/02/2019

    So I see know that you live in India! How exotic! So nice to see your gorgeous garden! You did a wonderful job in spite of difficult soil conditions! Such a pretty little patio scene with the painting of the branch and hummingbirds! Just charming!!!

    1. chamcham 10/02/2019

      You can also check out my Youtube channel 'Geeta's glorious garden and pets' incase you are interested in getting a better idea of my garden.

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