New to GW! Need help with "themed" backyard

MommyBlaze3August 1, 2014

I am new here and an avid "amateur" gardener. We recently moved to Ohio from GA, purchased a foreclosure that we are gutting inside and out. I loved my tropics themed backyard that I had in GA. However, I have found that a lot of my perennials there can only be used as annuals here. I need a privacy border. My original idea was to use phaison canna and run it along my fence line. This is not going to work in Ohio winters. Any suggestions of alternative privacy border plants that look semi-tropical that will survive the NW seasons? I'd like it to grow at least 5ft high and 4ft long. The area is full sun with mild moisture, however, if the plant you suggest is a water -lover, I'm not opposed to extra maintenance and watering.
Thank you kindly!

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not sure what the "theme" is, but for appropriate plants in your area -- do you have a county extension? A university nearby with an agricultural department? a Master Gardener program?

These are all sources I've been able to find info on local and adaptive plants in my area.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Tropical in Ohio could be kinda tough. There are some cold hardy banana / plantain type plants. Not sure what they are, but seems like someone in the tropical fruit forum posted about plantain, and someone in PA responded that he had such a tree.......... Not a fan of the banana type because so many let them get really ratty looking over time.

There are cold hardy figs that can be pruned to lower heights, but they will need some protection when young. Figs can "look" tropical because of their large leaves.

I know that's not much help, but we all have our measure of zone envy.

Good luck to you.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:10PM
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Canna and caladium, etc. would have to be dug and stored; Brugmansia brought in when the weather turns and treated as a houseplant. There's always castor bean to save seed and replant every year; datura is a lovely plant - these latter two do have their very toxic components. Never thought of canna as screening material - see a lot of it here and there in spots where people had some vision for their space and the patch of canna never quite cut it.

If you've got the space, shrubs, trees and conifers make for good screening. In a more northerly clime, you will probably have to revamp your theme and just add touches of those things more tropical.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I've got a Castor bean plant and it looks quite tropical, large and beautiful with gorgeous red flowers. I have it for one reason. It is toxic, and my gopher's are going to have quite a toxic meal when their seeds get harvested.

I do not have pets, and we don't allow the grandkids down by that plant because they are too little to know a rattlesnake. Birds don't visit gopher holes. It's all good.

Sometimes you must give in to your zone. Conifers are beautiful, and believe it or not, we have 2 huge pine groves on our subtropical property, and they make me feel like we are in a ski lodge when I look out at them. I just have to look past the palms and citrus, but I do dream the dream...


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:09PM
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If you haven't lived through an Ohio winter, another thing to consider will be whether you'd like some evergreens as part of your privacy border.

I'm also in zone 5, but in Michigan. I tried a number of hardy bananas one year in different spots in the yard. Covered the heck out of them in the fall and only one (barely) survived. I usually grow castor beans too, but even if started indoors, they take quite a while to get tall enough for privacy.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:03PM
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I thank you all for the advice. I'm going to try figs and if that doesn't work, revamp the tropics theme to a more native-friendly backyard.

Suzi/desertdance: you may come visit any time to get your snow-bunny fix. I heard last winter here was brutal!! :-)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:16PM
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Rose Mallow have huge plate like flowers that make me think of something tropical...I maybe far off in my thinking. But, they do well in Ohio...they sort of die off come winter...and are late to show life. But...once they do they get all sorts if attention by visitors and neighbors alike.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:26PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

You might like to have a look over on the 'Tropicalesque' Forum for ideas. It's for people in exactly your position.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropicalesque

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Fori is not pleased

What about bamboo? There are several species that are clumping (important!) and get about the right height. Some are nice and evergreen depending on the severity of the winter. Fargesia spp. are pretty hardy. And pretty.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:00PM
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