Introduced to Europe as early as the 16th century, some plants from South America and Asia have won over the European green spaces. It is certainly due to their amazing beauty that these plants have been adopted. Whether it is the banana tree, the crimson glory vine, the palm tree or the golden bamboo, exotic trees and plants offer many possibilities to design an exotic garden.

We often forget that many of the trees common to our surroundings have exotic origins, yet when we talk about exotic trees we have a tendency to think more about palm trees or coconut trees than plane trees. We must admit that palm trees bordering a long avenue are much more exotic than the plane trees that can be found in a small town’s public square.

The palm tree

If one were to rank the most exotic trees grown in France, both north and south, the palm tree surely occupies the first place. These trees, of which the trunk ends in a bunch of pinnate leaves, adapt indeed to the different climatic seasons in France. It should be noted nonetheless that palm trees growing in the north are not the same as those found in the south. In the North, palm species have special texture that allows them to withstand low temperatures ranging from 10 ° F to -13 ° F. This applies for example to the Chusan palm, also known as the Chinese windmill palm, and the Mazari palm. Worthy of note, these species require very little maintenance. The most important thing is to ensure that the species you want to grow can adapt to your climate. The rest will consist of regular pruning to facilitate the flow of air between the leaves. If you are interested in growing palm trees, you can buy them in garden centres, in some supermarkets, and even on websites. Plant them outside the house on drained ground, always facing south, and well-sheltered from the cold northerly winds.

Musa basjoo or the most popular banana tree

Even if it is not considered a tree from a botanical point of view, the banana tree is among the exotic plants that are cultivated in Britain without any difficulty. If it is popular, it is especially for its large, beautiful green leaves, as it is indeed very difficult to obtain fruit in Europe. Furthermore, its maintenance requires very little attention. Musa basjoo, the best known species, easily lives for several years. In the fall, the tree’s stump needs to be kept warm by being covered it with a pile of dead leaves or a straw bale. Although this exotic plant is resistant to cold, it is important to protect it at that time of the year against severe frosts. Musa basjoo sells well in stores specializing in gardening.

Some exotic plants

In stores, there also are many exotic plants with which it is possible to compose one’s garden. As an example, we can cite species such as the Sinarundinaria murielae bamboo, which is a beautiful ornamental plant due to its flexible and teetering canes, giving the impression of having been covered with a thin layer of gold. Also, take notice of the castor oil plant, which has the particularity of growing very rapidly. The size of its leaves can easily exceed 2 meters in length. It will be necessary to moisten them with store-bought insecticide to get rid of unwanted bugs. The crimson glory vine will not fail to amaze you with its dense, yet still easy to control vegetation. Also feel free to choose among long-lasting exotic trees like the Crocosmia or the Torch Lily. These grow on well-drained ground that is fully exposed to sunlight, and require that the ground be covered with a thick layer of straw or manure to allow the plant to gradually adapt to winter.

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Published in Trees and shrubs by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011