From the Caribbean to the South Pacific, Houzz features some dream-worthy tropical homes and gardens. We’ve selected five of these gardens that are not only beautiful, but also offer inspiration for bringing a bit of the tropics to your own backyard. Gardeners in temperate and subtropical climates (generally USDA zones 9 to 11; find your zone) may find new ways to include bold, tropical plants in their yards, while those in colder climates can gain inspiration from the design principles of the gardens.
Whether you are looking for ideas for your garden or simply in the mood to indulge in a little wanderlust, sit back and take a tour of these alluring tropical landscapes.
Tropics 1: Craig Reynolds Landscape Architecture, original photo on Houzz
1. Exuberant Foliage in Miami
With bold planting borders, a lotus pond and a thatched dining hut, this romantic garden designed by landscape architect Craig Reynolds hits all the right notes for a dreamy tropical landscape. Variegated foliage edging the pond brightens the planting bed of burgundy bromeliads and deep green palms.
Layers of exuberant foliage give the area around the pond a wild jungle look. To get a similar effect in your own garden, choose plants with a diversity of foliage types — bold, medium and fine — to cover the ground, midplanting area and background of the bed. Attach bromeliads, tillandsias or orchids in more unusual growing spaces, such as on tree trunks and low-hanging branches.
Idea to steal: Create a garden room, such as a covered dining area, daybed or Balinese-style thatched roof structure, called a balé, for your own backyard escape. Make an inviting walkway with colorful plantings to soften the edges and pathway lights for a glow at night.
Tropics 2: Landscaping New Zealand, original photo on Houzz
2. Jungle Retreat in Auckland
A small stream and a dense backdrop of tropical foliage make this suburban property in Auckland, New Zealand, feel like a jungle retreat. The space is designed for indoor-outdoor living, complete with a covered dining area and an outdoor living room centered around a fireplace.
The deck is cantilevered over a boggy area of the backyard with a small natural stream. Water-loving plants such as ferns and broad-leaved alocasias thrive in the consistently moist planting environment. Custom glass fencing stops visitors from stepping into the stream without obscuring the view.
Idea to steal: Create evening ambience with soft outdoor lighting. Tropical gardens are often enjoyed in the evening once the heat of the day has passed. Make your own backyard an inviting oasis with soft tree lighting and hanging lanterns.
Tropics 3: Designscape Inc., original photo on Houzz
3. Abundant Color in Hawaii
Vibrant planting beds around a property in Kauai, Hawaii, enliven the landscape with bold foliage and splashes of chartreuse, gold, magenta and silver. For a similar look outside the tropics, combine plants with sculptural forms, such as large succulents, with plants chosen for bright foliage, such as coleus or canna.
A planting vignette with flickering torches acts as a focal point at the corner of the main path. Upright magenta ti plants (Cordyline fruticosa) and purple boatlilies (Tradescantia spathacea) add rich color in the sea of green lawn.
Idea to steal: Add sculpture to make your garden feel more personal. Artifacts, stone carvings or simple pieces brought back from a meaningful place can add depth to your garden. Nestled into planting beds or placed on pedestals, simple garden art provides an area for the eye to rest while someone is admiring the garden.
Tropics 4: Secret Gardens, original photo on Houzz
4. Tranquil Oasis in Sydney
Nestled in a suburb north of Sydney, this tranquil oasis feels miles away from the hustle of the city. The property features lush planting beds studded with bright blooms and chairs for relaxing in the sunshine, as well as a turquoise pool for afternoon dips.
Surrounded by lawn and lush green planting borders, the pool feels quiet and serene. Granite curbs embedded in the slope of the lawn provide an interesting architectural feature and double as seating.
Idea to steal: Get a tropical color punch with container plantings. A pair of low bowls overflowing with bougainvillea mark the sides of the lanai. Other brightly colored blooms that fill in to form dense mounds of color include buzzy Lizzies (Impatiens walleriana), lantana (Lantana camara) and million bells (Calibrachoa spp.).
Tropics 5: Raymond Jungles, Inc., original photo on Houzz
5. Elements of Discovery in the West Indies
This garden on a small island in the West Indies, designed by landscape architecture firm Raymond Jungles, gives guests plenty of reasons to head outdoors. Here, verdant tropical foliage nearly covers an alluring pathway leading to a larger, more open garden area.
Borders burst with color and elements of discovery, such as striped bromeliads tucked into the notch of a tree and small waterfalls spilling down sloped areas of the property.
For a more naturalistic look, walkways were planted with moss that has grown to nearly cover the pathway cobbles, while lush tropical plants tumble over boulders and soften the edges. In a similar fashion, the hardscape of the main drive was limited to two tire tracks, leaving room for grass to be planted in between.
Tropics 6: Raymond Jungles, Inc., original photo on Houzz
Idea to steal: Showcase a trio of specimen plants against a plain backdrop. Fiery orange bromeliads planted in front of a dark volcanic rock act like living sculpture. While cold-tender bromeliads may not thrive in your climate, choose plants with structural foliage — such as agaves or common sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri) — and arrange them in a trio in front of a wall, boulder or hedge.