25 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 be grown in containers too!

Create a tropical garden oasis on a balcony with these ideas

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

1. Bamboo

tropical landscape design
bamboos in tropical garden
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.

Here’s everything you need to know about growing bamboos

2. Colocasia

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Colocasia

Botanical Name: Colocasia
USDA Zones: 8a-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

You can grow it 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.

Check out our article on growing Colocasia

3. Hibiscus

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Hibiscus
Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
USDA Zones: 8-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 28 F or -2 C

The reason behind the popularity of hibiscus is that they are easy to grow and successfully thrive in the tropics and cooler regions.

For colder regions, try growing Rose of Sheron. You can also grow varieties like Berry Awesome, Cranberry Crush, and Perfect Storm.

List of different types of Hibiscus you can grow

4. Bird of Paradise

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants- bird of paradise
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). For regions with frost, it is best to grow this plant in a pot, this way, you can transfer it indoors in winters.

Check out our article on different types of Bird of Paradise

5. Palms

tropical landscape design
palms in a tropical garden
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. Canna

canna in tropical gardenBotanical Name: Canna indica
USDA Zones: 7b-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

Cannas can be grown in pots and on the ground easily, and they are probably the easiest tropical plants that you can grow. Peach Gigantum, Skyhawk, and Stuttgart are the best varieties for cold climates.

7. Hardy Banana

banana in tropical garden'Botanical Name: Musa basjoo
USDA Zones: 7-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 10 F or -12 C

Banana trees add a tropical touch to any garden. This cold-hardy banana cultivar called can be grown easily in colder climates without any worries.

Check out our article on growing Banana in pots here

8. Hostas

hosta-shade-gardenBotanical Name: Hosta
USDA Zones: 5-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -25 F or -30 C

Hostas are great groundcover with the foliage that comes in a variety of shades. Abiqua Drinking Gourd, Dancing Queen, and Lakeside Shore Master are the top cold-hardy varieties. Discover more hosta varieties here!

Everything you need to know about growing hostas 

9. Ferns

tropical landscape designBotanical Name: Tracheophyta
USDA Zones: 6-8
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -25 F or-31 C

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

Check out our article on growing ferns here

10. African Lily

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-African lily in garden

Botanical Name: Agapanthus africanus
USDA Zones: 7-10
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 17 F or -8 C

This beautiful and tough herbaceous perennial grows in the subtropics but it can be grown in temperates too. Introduce agapanthus in your garden to add a touch of blue-violet flowers and lush strap-like foliage!

11. Bougainvillea

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Bougainvillea

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. However, bougainvillea is not as cold-hardy as agapanthus, but you can grow it in containers and move it inside in winters.

12. Yucca

cold hardy tropical plants-Yucca

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 that you can grow outside in cold climates. To overwinter it, protection from cold and moisture must be provided in the winters in the cooler zones.

13. Mandevilla

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Mandevilla
Botanical Name: Mandevilla
USDA Zones: 5a-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 35 F or 1C

Mandevilla is definitely not a cold-hardy plant, but you can overwinter it indoors by growing it in the container. The plant looks beautiful with its pink flowers!

14. Japanese Silver Grass

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Japanese plant

Botanical Name: Miscanthus sinensis
USDA Zones: 5-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -10 F or -23 C

Japanese silver grass grows well in temperate regions. It is a tropical-looking plant that can be a wonderful addition to your garden.

15. Umbrella Plant

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Umerlla Plant

Botanical Name: Darmera peltata
USDA Zones: 5-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 24 F or -4 C

It prefers cool summer climates USDA Zone 5-9. This plant requires a large space, and it grows well in shaded areas in average garden soil.

16. Pineapple Lily

Pineapple lily-Cold Hardy Tropical Plants
Botanical Name: Eucomis
USDA Zones: 7-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

This specimen will surely help you create a tropical lush look like a corner plant in your garden. It also grows beautiful, star-shaped flowers.

17. Passionflower

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Passionflower

Botanical Name: Passiflora incarnata
USDA Zones: 5-10
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -10 F or -23 C

It is a great choice of plant to cover your windows or front doors with. You can easily grow it without worrying much about the cold weather, especially when you’re growing this in pots.

18. Cordyline

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Cordyline

Botanical Name: Cordyline
USDA Zones: 8-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 15 F or -9 C

Cordyline is winter hardy and can very well take the colder temperatures without much difficulty, and stays lush most of the year. If you’re zone pusher, you can grow it down to zone 7.

19. Dinosaur Food

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Dinosaur Food

Botanical Name: Gunnera manicata
USDA Zones: 6-9b
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 14 F or -10 C

It is not the regular plant of choice for most tropical gardens but can easily survive low temperatures without any protection.

20. Soft Tree Fern

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Soft Tree Fern

Botanical Name: Dicksonia antarctica
USDA Zones: 8-12
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 21 F or -6 C

Also popular as man fern, it looks more like a palm and adds a lush green tropical look to the yard. The plant can easily tolerate cold winters.

21. Eucalyptus

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Eucalyptus

Botanical Name: Eucalyptus
USDA Zones: 7-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 0 F or -17 C

Usually most of the eucalyptus varieties grow in frost-free regions but there are some hardy cultivars that can grow down to USDA Zone 7.

22. Curve Leaf Yucca

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants- Curve leaf yucca

Botanical Name: Yucca gloriosa var. tristis
USDA Zones: 7b-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -20F or -29C

The blue-green foliage of this variety looks quite well in backyard gardens. Its ability to survive extremely cold temperatures makes it one of the top picks on this list.

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

The plant makes quite a bold statement with its large leaves. It performs best in colder climates and is also easy to maintain.

24. Coral Bells

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants- Coral Bells in Garden
Botanical Name: Heuchera
USDA Zones: 4-9
Minimum Cold Tolerance: -20 F or -28 C

It is one of the best plants to add a dash of color to your garden with a tropical vibe. Plum pudding, Palace purple, and Caramel are some of the best varieties you can grow.

25. Caladium

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants-Caladium in pots near water
Botanical Name: Caladium
USDA Zones: 9-11
Minimum Cold Tolerance: 28 F or -2 C

The fancy, variegated leaves of caladium offer the perfect blend of colors and a tropical flare. Grow them in pots so you can move them to a warm spot if it gets too cold. Like elephant ears and canna lilies, you can grow these as annuals down to USDA Zone 5!

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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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