Zone 9 Tropical Plants: Tips On Growing Tropical Gardens In Zone 9

Zone 9 Tropical Plants: Tips On Growing Tropical Gardens In Zone 9

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By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

During summer in zone 9 it may certainly feel like the tropics; however, in winter when temperatures dip in to the 20s or 30s, you may worry about one of your tender tropical plants. Because zone 9 is mostly a subtropical climate, it’s necessary to select tropical plants that are hardy in zone 9 and grow non-hardy tropical plants as annuals. Continue reading to learn about growing tropical gardens in zone 9.

Caring For Tropical Plants in Zone 9 Gardens

When you think of the tropics, you probably visualize brightly colored, exotic-looking flowers; large, interesting shaped foliage in various shades of green, gold, red and orange; and, of course, palm trees.

Palm trees play an important role in zone 9 tropical gardens; they are used as specimen plants, backdrops, windbreaks and privacy screens. However, not all palms are hardy in zone 9. For zone 9 hardy palms, try these varieties:

  • Sago palm
  • Macaw palm
  • Pindo palm
  • Cabbage palm
  • Chinese fan palm
  • Saw palmetto

Since cold temperatures and frost can happen in zone 9, it is important to take precautions and cover tropical plants when frost is in the forecast. Zone 9 tropical plants will also benefit from mulching their root zones before the coldest winter months in your area. Non-hardy tropical plants can be grown in pots to easily take indoors before cold can damage them.

Tropical Plants for Zone 9

Palms are not the only plants that provide dramatic foliage and texture to zone 9 tropical gardens. For example, you can add tropical-looking, colorful foliage such as:

  • Caladiums
  • Cannas
  • Agave
  • Voodoo lilies
  • Ferns
  • Crotons
  • Figs
  • Bananas
  • Elephant ears
  • Bromeliads
  • Dracaenas

Large, tropical trees can provide a shady oasis in hot, humid zone 9 tropical gardens. Some good choice might include:

  • Live oak
  • Bald cypress
  • Chinese elm
  • Sweetgum
  • Mahogany
  • Pigeon plum
  • Southern magnolia

Below are some bold, bright flowering tropical plants for zone 9:

  • African iris
  • Agapanthus
  • Amaryllis
  • Amazon lily
  • Angel’s trumpet
  • Begonia
  • Bird of paradise
  • Blood lily
  • Bottlebrush
  • Bougainvillea
  • Butterfly ginger lily
  • Calla lily
  • Clivia
  • Gardenia
  • Gloriosa lily
  • Hibiscus
  • Indonesian wax ginger
  • Jatropha
  • Night-blooming cereus
  • Oleander
  • Paphiopedilum orchids
  • Passion flower
  • Pride of Burma
  • Strophanthus
  • Zephyr lily

This article was last updated on

Read more about Zone 9, 10 & 11


Citrus is the best known fruit of Arizona and is considered a tropical because it won't tolerate temperatures below freezing for more than a day or so. Avocado, banana and guava are other tropical fruits found in Arizona. Avocados need protections from hot summer afternoon sun. It won't start fruiting until the tree is five years old. Oddly, the fruit doesn't ripen while it's on the tree but only after it's been picked. Date palms grow in neighborhood backyards as ornamental trees, although they do produce dates. The pollen of the date flowers discolors pool water to a cloudy green, so keep that in mind when landscaping a pool area.


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