Winter finally arrived in the Northeast, so I left town….temporarily anyway. I traveled to Costa Rica, the epitome of tropical rainforests. I had full expectations of seeing amazing things in the rainforest including monkeys, reptiles, birds and lush, tangled foliage. Costa Rica did not disappoint. I saw all those things many times over. What I didn’t anticipate was the plethora of tropical flowering plants that clearly flourish in this consistently moist environment.
In case you are also in need of an escape from winter, enjoy this mini, tropical getaway. While these plants clearly aren’t hardy in our zone, some of them would make pretty houseplants! I prefer the method of traveling someplace warm during the winter months to enjoy seeing them in person.
One of the most popular plants in Costa Rica is the Heliconia. Often grown for the flower industry, these flowers are amazingly colorful and architectural. By looking at the images, you will understand why the common names for Heliconia include lobster claw and false bird of paradise.
|The amazing Heliconia|
|False Bird of Paradise|
|Lobster claw Heliconia|
Etlingera elatior, also known as ginger flower or porcelain rose, is another standout in the Costa Rican landscape. While edible, I can’t imagine eating this flower when it’s so much more fun to admire.
|A porcelain rose for sure|
I would put red sealing wax palm (Cyrtostachys renda) in the ‘smart’ plant category. Intolerant of temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (isn’t that smart?), it’s coveted for arresting bright red leaf stalks. This ‘lipstick palm’ certainly contrasted beautifully against the deep blue of the pool.
The peach-colored floral bells of Angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia) swayed gracefully in the breeze and looked so elegant. Apparently they smelled liked rotten fruit though, which while not attractive to humans, was very attractive to their pollinator – the bat!
I hope you have enjoyed this little escape from winter’s fury. When it’s cold outside, the world of tropical plants provides a perfect destination! Don’t you agree?
Oh, I do! And when one can't get to, say, Costa Rica, a visit to a local greenhouse is a sure tonic for winter blues. When we lived in northen New England, the Montreal Botanical Gardens were a favorite destination. Here in SE Pa, Longwood Gardens are well worth the drive, and even Ott's Greenhouse in Schwenksville is wonderful to walk through – and pehaps get some springtime gardening ideas. Try it, you'll like it!
Lovely and just what I need Carol in this snowy/rainy February. Thanks for showing us some beauty with your photos and prose. Costa Rica just got added to my bucket list.