Q: Since we have such a long summer, what can I use to perk up my garden?

A: To get ideas and inspiration, visit the newly reopened Tropical Garden at Mercer Botanic Gardens. After the recent years of extreme weather and flooding, the gardens at Mercer are again taking shape with a remarkable show of lush foliage and flowering plants. See the many amazing plants in this specialty garden that have survived, such as palms, hardy ficus shrubs, thryallis shrubs, hummingbird bush (Hamelia), clumping elephant ears (Alocasia), oleanders, and the most amazing gingers of every shape, color and fragrance.

Cordylines

To easily add colorful foliage to your home landscape, try easy-to-grow banana trees like Thai Black with black stems and leaf midrib. Options like the Ti plant (Cordylines), Persian shield, or copper plants that feature purple/copper-red leaf variations are also interesting selections. Butterfly gingers (Hedychium) come in a full range of sweet-smelling flowers in pastel colors with lush foliage that can grow up to six feet tall. Bird of paradise flowers and lobster claws offer the quintessential tropical look, both of which bloom impressively and often survive mild Houston winters. Be sure to check out the bougainvillea trailing from the rock walls alongside the intriguing decorative fountain in the Tropical Garden at Mercer.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnists
Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..