26 Cold Hardy Tropical Plants for Cold Climates

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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If you love the feel of the tropics but live in an area with low temperature, then grow these Cold Hardy Tropical Plants from this list!

Here are the best Cold-Hardy Tropical Plants you can grow in your garden. The best thing about the plants we’ve listed is that most of them can also be grown in containers!

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

1. BambooCold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Bambusa vulgaris

USDA Zones: 7-10

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

Bamboos grow best in warm climates. You can opt for several clumping varieties like Goldstripe, Chinese dwarf, Slender weavers, and Ghost bamboo for colder regions.

2. ColocasiaCold Hardy Tropical Plants in garden

Botanical Name: Colocasia

USDA Zones: 8a-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

You can grow Colocasias in moderately cold climates outdoors on the ground. Pink China is one of the best varieties, and you can also grow it in pots to move it around easily.

3. HibiscusCold Hardy Tropical Plants in garden 2

Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

USDA Zones: 8-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 28 F or -2 C

The reason behind the popularity of this plant is that it is easy to grow, and tropical Hibiscus cold tolerance is great. For colder regions, try growing varieties like Berry Awesome, Cranberry Crush, and Perfect Storm.

4. Bird of ParadiseCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate

Botanical Name: Strelitzia reginae

USDA Zones: 8-12

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 24 F or -4 C

Bird of Paradise grows best in subtropical and tropical climates, but if you want a variety that does better in colder regions, then go for Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia Mexicana).

5. PalmsCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 2

Botanical Name: Arecaceae

USDA Zones: 7-10

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 20 F or -7 C

When you think about palms, you always imagine a lush tropical feel! Needle, Dwarf Palmetto, Chusan, Windmill, Kumaon, and Miniature Chusan Palm are the best varieties to grow in colder climates. You can see more suggestions here!

6. Indian Shot

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 4
Canna indica

Botanical Name: Canna indica

USDA Zones: 7b-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

Indian Shots are probably the easiest tropical plants to grow in pots and on the ground. Peach Gigantum, Skyhawk, and Stuttgart are best for cold climates.

7. BananaCold Hardy Tropical Plants in garden

Botanical Name: Musa basjoo

USDA Zones: 7-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

There’s no better tropical looking plants for cold climates than the Banana tree. Just give it a cold temperature and soil rich in organic matter and it will thrive.

8. HostasAmazing Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Hosta

USDA Zones: 5-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -25 F or -30 C

Hostas are great groundcovers with foliage in various shades. Abiqua Drinking Gourd, Dancing Queen, and Lakeside Shore Master are the top cold-hardy ones. Discover more hosta varieties here!

9. FernsCold Hardy Tropical Plants growing

Botanical Name: Tracheophyta

USDA Zones: 6-8

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -25 F or-31 C

Ferns can be a great addition to your garden, giving it a tropical look. Some of the most cold-hardy ferns you can grow are Western maidenhair, Lady, Christmas, Western sword, and Common polypody.

10. African LilyBeautiful Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Agapanthus africanus

USDA Zones: 7-10

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 17 F or -8 C

African Lilies are beautiful and tough herbaceous perennials that are cold and hardy. Plus, they have absolutely stunning flowers of a lavender hue.

11. Bougainvillea

amazing Cold Hardy Tropical Plants 2
Image Credit: Monrovia

Botanical Name: Bougainvillea

USDA Zones: 8-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 23 F or – 6 C

Bougainvillea is a very common sight in warm climates. It is a sturdy perennial with lovely paper-like flowers. It is not as cold-hardy as African Lilies, but you can grow it in containers and move it inside in winter.

12. Yuccafantastic Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Yucca

USDA Zones: 5-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -25 F or -30 C

Beaked Yucca (Yucca Rostrata) is the best cold-hardy yucca for growing outside in cold climates. To overwinter it, protection from cold and moisture must be provided in the cooler zones in the winter.

13. Mandevilla

Botanical Name: Mandevilla

USDA Zones: 5a-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 35 F or 1C

Mandevilla is another plant you can grow if you know how to overwinter it. All you need is to take the pot indoors during the winter months. That much work is worth it, considering its pink flowers!

14. Japanese Silver GrassCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 4

Botanical Name: Miscanthus sinensis

USDA Zones: 5-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -10 F or -23 C

Japanese Silver Grasses are low maintenance tropical look plants for cold climates. And their arching foliage can grow up to 10 feet tall. You can find them in pink, red, and even purple shades.

15. Umbrella PlantCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 5


Botanical Name: Darmera peltata

USDA Zones: 5-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 24 F or -4 C

The Umbrella plant needs quite a large space to grow and loves shaded areas. Any regular and healthy potting soil would be good for it.

16. Pineapple LilyCold Hardy Tropical Plants in garden 4

Botanical Name: Eucomis

USDA Zones: 7-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

Pineapple Lily is not a true lily. And it won’t give you any pineapples. It just has the name because its flowers look like slender pineapples. It’s really drought tolerant and has a long bloom time.

17. PassionflowerCold Hardy Tropical Plants in garden 5

Botanical Name: Passiflora incarnata

USDA Zones: 5-10

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -10 F or -23 C

Passionflower is a great tropical, cold hardy plant choice for the windows or the home entrance. You can easily grow it without worrying much about the cold weather, especially when you’re growing it in pots.

18. CordylineCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 5

Botanical Name: Cordyline

USDA Zones: 8-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 15 F or -9 C

Cordylines are evergreen and have sword-like leaves. You will find many species, some of which even grow 15 feet tall. But don’t go with this one if you have pets or kids because it’s toxic if ingested.

19. Dinosaur FoodBeautiful Cold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 6

Botanical Name: Gunnera manicata

USDA Zones: 6-9b

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 14 F or -10 C

The Dinosaur Food is also known as the Brazilian Giant Rhubard, and it definitely lives up to its name. It has massive leaves that can grow 8 feet tall and look like a prehistoric plant.

20. Soft Tree FernCold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 7

Botanical Name: Dicksonia antarctica

USDA Zones: 8-12

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

The Soft Tree Fern has a stout trunk which is covered with reddish-brown hair. These ferns might be slow growers, but they can survive the cold and live for hundreds of years.

21. Eucalyptus

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate 8

Botanical Name: Eucalyptus

USDA Zones: 7-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 0 F or -17 C

Most Eucalyptus varieties grow in frost-free regions, but some hardy cultivars can grow down to USDA Zone 7. They grow fast and have a fragrant foliage and bark.

22. Curve Leaf YuccaFantastic Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Yucca gloriosa var. tristis

USDA Zones: 7b-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -20F or -29C

Curve Leaf Yuccas have blue-green foliage and also give white, bell-shaped flowers in late spring. You will need to care for it a bit but once established, this tropical plant is cold hardy and drought tolerant.

23. Rice Paper Plant

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants- Rice paper plants

Botanical Name: Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’

USDA Zones: 7b-10b

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

If you need tropical plants that are cold hardy, don’t miss the Rice Paper plant. It has large, lobed leaves that form a crown over it and grows 10-15 feet tall easily.

24. Coral Bellsuseful Cold Hardy Tropical Plants in cold climate

Botanical Name: Heuchera

USDA Zones: 4-9

Minimum Cold Tolerance: -20 F or -28 C

Coral Bells have colorful foliage and need moderate watering. They’re great for borders, containers, and even as a groundcover. Go with Plum pudding, Palace purple, and Caramel varieties.

25. CaladiumUseful Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

Botanical Name: Caladium

USDA Zones: 9-11

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 28 F or -2 C

Caladiums are stunning tropical foliage plants that are cold-hardy. They’re versatile and can be grown indoors and outdoors. Just keep them away from your kids or pets because they’re toxic if ingested.

26. Japanese AraliaCold Hardy Tropical Plants 7

Botanical Name: Fatsia japonica

USDA Zones: 8-10

Minimum Cold Tolerance: 15F  or -9C

Japanese Aralia is an evergreen shrub with glossy and dark leaves. It’s surprisingly cold hardy and can thrive in shade or even partial shade, so it’s perfect for places where there’s no direct sunlight.

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  1. thanks for your info on hardy tropical plants I live in a zone 6 and have a pretty cool yard. I want to add more plant to it is set up as a tiki bar atmosphere. ant help would be appreciated.

    • Can you please share with me what kind cold hardy tropical plants are doing good in your backyard. because I’m also from zone 6
      Thank you!

    • I would also love to know what types of plants you are growing. I am zone 6b and want to put plants around my pool and yard for a tropical feel.

  2. I’m looking for something with large leaves, anywhere from umbrella plant size to elephant ears, that can take full all day sun. It doesn’t need to be cold tolerant as I’d treat it like an annual. I live on the zone 6/7 line. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • My new Pink China elephant ears are going to town in full sun this summer even with the three waves of heat advisories we’ve seen so far in St Louis area (zone 6). So – very heat tolerant with full sun. Started in a pot inside as a corm in April. They like tons of water and I’ve been using 10-10-10 fertilizer every 2 weeks to get them big. 18” leaves, every new leaf on the main plant is coming out bigger than the last. Over 3 ft tall now, and over past few weeks put out four 6” to 12” runners in directions that are just now getting leaves so is now ~4ft wide. I’m planning to leave them in the ground this winter.

  3. Fantastic information on cold hardy plants for the tropical look.
    I live in Tasmania, Aust. and have a garden of exotics….tree ferns, rhododendrons, camellias and the like. I am about to add a tropical feel, hopefully.
    Thankyou so very much for such an extensive list of plants for me to choose from.
    Happy gardening 😊

    • Hi Ruth – how did you go with the tropical plants – as I live in Canberra so would be keen to hear your experience?

      • Hi Tanzia, my wife and I also live in Canberra, just wondering how you went with tropical plants here in Canberra. Would like to plant out front yard in tropicals and natives.

  4. I’m in Southern Delaware near the beach. Can I leave any of these tropicals in the ground? I know hostas are perennials, but what about something taller?

  5. I’m in Zone 9 in New Orleans, LA and currently buying plants to add a tropical feel to my front garden and back with a swimming pool. This selection of plants was quite helpful since we do dip below freezing some winter days, but I have to plant full sun plants for the hot summer months since my front garden gets the western evening sun. I’ll have red bananas, dwarf hibiscus and ixora (if I can find the dwarf size), spider lilies, purple agapanthus, and caladiums and coleus for mixed color. I’ll be using black mulch (NOT rubber) for all to pop with color. I also have a palm right above 1-story house roof line at the end of the garden away from the door as the anchor.
    In my back yard surrounding the pool, I have variegated shell and fragrant white gingers, red banana, elephant ears, night blooming jasmine, agapanthus, Louisiana iris, Hawaiian ti plant, same variety of palm that is in front graden, and a gardenia that needs fertilizer (I think that’s the problem.).

  6. I live in Strawberry Plains Tennessee which tropical plants would be best for my tropical bed which has a Banana Tree so far. I want a Beachy vibe. Thank you. I appreciate any info with helping me.

  7. I live in Michigan and I’m looking for a tropical look yard. Prefer plants that will look good in the winter months as well. Any and all suggestions appreciated!

    (I LOVE palms and ferns)

    • All palm like the windmill palm Mexican fan palm will do good in Michigan but will need a gage with foam installation on it and Xmas lights

  8. Thanks! Very nice list. We have a lot of them. Definitely enjoy them in zone 7/8 borderline.
    Bougainvillea is strictly tropical for us Beautiful plant, but plan on bringing it indoors into a sunroom.
    Mandevilla is also a beautiful annual. Survives a cool 35° green house but needs some tlc.

  9. Ricin plant (castor bean) very poisonous but is very tall and striking in tropical sense in a garden. Annual but easy to grow from seed.

  10. What a lot of us that grow palms in zone 6 do is build cages and put up installations on it with Christmas lights around the tree as far as plants just use plants that come back each year


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