Tropical Large-Leaf Plants

elephant ear leaves image by Joann Cooper from

Large leaf tropical plants are a great addition to any open landscaping area because they add unique visual interest. The plants have a distinctly exotic look and help fill large open spaces where it won't overpower the plants around it. Depending on climate, outdoor tropical plants might require special care, while in milder climates a large leaf tropical plant may thrive easily.

Elephant Ears

The elephant ear plant, also called taro, is known as the "potato of the tropics." It has large heart-shaped leaves that resemble elephants' ears. The leaves can grow 2 to 3 feet long and 1 to 2 feet wide. There are different varieties of the elephant ear plant, which is native to the swamps of southeast Asia. The plant does best in moist, rich soil and partial shade and enjoys a lot of watering, except during its dormant period (winter). It is right at home around a water garden. In non-tropical climates, the Elephant Ear should be treated as an annual. The plant is not poisonous, but can cause stomach pains if ingested without cooking.

Delicious Monster

The delicious monster plant is also known as windowleaf or swiss cheese plant, and its glossy green leaves can grow over 3 feet in length. The delicious monster should only be planted outdoors in mild climates. In cooler climates, the plant should be potted and taken indoors during cold weather. White flowers will bloom in monsters that are planted outdoors, leading to edible fruit. The plant prefers full to partial shade and is often found beneath larger trees. It requires rich soil and regular watering to keep soil moist, especially during dry seasons.

Giant Rhubarb

Giant rhubarb is native to Brazil, and is truly giant with its 6-foot-wide green leaves. The plant needs a large, open area because of the massive size of the foliage. The plant has flowers that bloom in midsummer. They start green, then change from red to brown. Giant rhubarb leaves are rough, with a thorny stalk and sandpaper-like leaves. The plant loves moisture and is happiest near water with some shade. To keep the giant rhubarb at a manageable size, divide it in the spring while it is smaller.

Poor Man's Parasol

Poor man's parasol, or poor man's umbrella has leaves that can grow 4 to 6 feet across, making it a very impressive and showy tropical plant. It is native to Central and South America's mountain regions and thrives best in shade or in cloudy conditions. It needs regular watering and soil should be kept moist. Poor Man's Parasol may not be appropriate for homes with children or outdoor pets because the seeds of the plant are poisonous, and contact with any part of the plant can cause skin irritation. This massive tropical leaf is for show only.

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