Tropical plants are notoriously finicky, and many don’t survive in containers. While they look great unless they’re meant to grow in a container, tropical plants are really high maintenance, and eventually, they just can’t live. However, tropical plants can add beautiful detail to existing gardens and serve as decorations for both inside and outside your home. Thankfully, there are many great, hardy, tropical plants available to you.

Banana trees, Yucca, and bamboo are a few tropical plants that thrive in containers. You can plant many different things in a container, given the container is big enough. It’s a rule of thumb that the bigger the container, the better your plant will thrive. 

The list of everything you can plant in a container is extensive. If you take proper care and provide it with the correct sized container, most of your plants will do really well. But, for this list, we’ll mainly stick to plants that aren’t a 24/7 job to upkeep. The following list will be made up of plants that are tough, beautiful, and like growing in a pot.

Victoria Derrick
Published by: Victoria C. Derrick
Publisher / President
Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image

Hardy Tropical Plants that Thrive in Containers

Trust me on this one. There’s nothing sadder than buying a luscious green tropical plant, and repotting it for your home in a lovely container or basket, only to have it die. You’ll see the leaves turn brown, some will fall off, and overall it’s just a really big bummer. 

But don’t feel too bad, it’s not always your fault. Tropical plants are heavily dependents on their environment, and some just aren’t meant to live in containers. Fortunately, there are many options for tropical plants that do thrive in containers. Up next, we’ll give you a hit list of those plants, so you can keep it handy on your next trip to the greenhouse. 


Cold Hardy Banana Trees

We’re starting this list off with a big one. There’s nothing more tropical than a banana tree, and this particular variety is known to be pretty hardy. Musa banana trees don’t care if they’re planted in your backyard or a pot. They will grow just fine.

They prefer to be in direct sunlight, so try to make sure they get a decent amount of sun. Other than that, though, they’re pretty hardy. There are said to be able to survive in hardiness zones 4-11, so they can stand some serious cold.

Even though they can survive in cold weather, they’ll have an easier time growing the warmer it is. So, they might not last too long in brutal Midwest winters or Alaska, but they can still handle some chill.

Also, a bit of a bummer, the bananas this tree grows will not be edible. Oh well, at least it’ll still look tropical.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Hardy Hibiscus Hybrids

Okay, maybe a banana tree is a bit much for your porch. Maybe you’re looking for something a bit smaller, maybe a flower bush? Well, one hardy flower that’s growing in popularity is the Hardy Hibiscus. Usually, Hibiscuses are a bit more tropical and require better conditions, but through years of breeding, a tougher Hibiscus has come about.

According to Geraniumrozanne, these hardy Hibiscuses thrive in hardiness zones 5-9. They offer beautiful tropical looks and have the hardiness to survive in freezing climates, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need care.

According to American Meadows, these Hibiscuses need acidic, well-drained soil. They will grow in partial shade but thrive in the sunlight. It’s also worth mentioning that while these are smaller than a banana tree, they aren’t exactly small. If you let them, they can grow up to six-feet-tall.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Yucca Plants

There are a large variety of Yucca Plants, and most of them are pretty darn hardy. They can survive in hardiness zones 4-11 and do not require too much water. They also grow very well in pots and indoors. Here’s a list of different Yucca species:

  • Banana Yucca
  • Adam’s Needle
  • Spanish Dagger
  • Spineless Yucca

You can neglect a Yucca plant a lot more than other plants. Overwatering will kill it. The only thing you need to help them thrive is to put them near sunlight. But, before you buy a Yucca plant for your home or yard, there is something very important you should know about them.

According to the Spruce, Yucca plants are considered toxic to pets. If your dog, cat, or horse decides to munch on the Yucca’s leaves, your furry little friend, or big furry friend (if we’re talking about a horse) might find themselves very, very sick.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Toad Lily

Like the Hibiscus, Toad Lilies are beautiful, hardy flowers. According to the garden helper, they can easily survive in hardiness zones 4-9. They are easy to take care of and grow well in pots. 

So far on this list, the toad lily offers the smallest total height. While the Hardy Hibiscus can reach heights up to six-feet, the toad lily reaches its maximum height at around 3 feet.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Chicago Hardy Fig Tree

Don’t get me wrong, the cold hardy banana tree is cool and all, but it has one big flaw. You can’t eat bananas. What if you wanted a small tropical tree that grew well in a pot and was hardy enough to live in the Midwest? Well, I’d say that you should probably check out the Chicago Hardy Fig tree.

Even though Fig trees can grow quite tall, according to easygrowbulbs, with the right size pot you can grow and diligent pruning, you can easily keep it at an easy six feet tall. These trees like the sun and also do well in partial shade. But, the more sun it gets, the sweeter its figs will be.

These fig trees are hardy, but they are not invincible. In hardiness zones below 6, you should not leave your fig tree out in the winter. When winter rolls around, you will need to keep your tree inside until it warms up again.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Cold Hardy Clumping Bamboo

For the last plant on the list, we are going with bamboo. There are many different types of bamboo, but we’re going with the clumping variety because they are generally hardier. According to home garden and homestead, this type of bamboo will easily withstand temperatures from hardiness zones five through nine.

When looking for clumping bamboo to plant, make sure to select the right species and the right type of pot for that species. Some species grow better in a pot than others. Here’s a list of clumping Bamboo species:

  • Hedge
  • Golden Goddess
  • Royal
  • Rufa
  • White Dragon

According to living bamboo, although bamboo is easy to grow, it still requires maintenance. If you have your potted bamboo outside, make sure to remove old looking stems.

Bamboo requires a lot of watering during the warm months and not as much watering during the cold months. 

During winter, the bamboo goes into a kind of sleep. If you have your bamboo planted outside, make sure to keep it protected from heavy winds. Bamboo can grow very tall, and a fierce wind has a good chance of knocking it over or snapping its reeds in two.

Hardy Tropical Plants in Container Image
Anything Can Grow in a Container if the Container is Big Enough

If you have a big enough pot, you could technically plant full trees. Of course, the container would be massive, and a pot of that size is pretty unlikely. Some of the hardy tropicals listed above are on the larger side, though, so you’ll want to make sure your container is sized to fit. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that you need room to bloom here. While you might initially have the perfect amount of space, plants are always growing, meaning they’re thriving, but you also don’t want to be constantly relocating them to accommodate that growth. 

According to our pot size conversion article, there are many container sizes to pick from. Make sure to choose the right size for whatever plant you choose to plant.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! Some of the best hardy tropical plants can not only survive in containers but thrive in containers. Just remember to give them the right amount of sunlight according to what type of plants you’re raising, and to water properly. Soon enough, you’ll have beautiful blooms and foliage throughout your home.

Published/Updated on: 02-05-2021