Have you ever visited a tropical place and wished you could have that same lush greenery at your backyard? Well, it’s more realistic than you think. Growing a jungle garden can turn out to be successful even in a milder temperature climate, and in a container garden.
The trick is to prepare the soil for this type of greenery and to grow plants that can create dense foliage. That way, you’ll create an upper canopy with lower plants, too. Mini microclimate will develop quickly, allowing the growth of wonderful specimens that will make you feel like you’ve never even left that tropical place.
Step 1 — Soil Preparation and Foliage Plantings
Whether you’re planning to grow plants in containers or the backyard, the key factor is to provide good drainage for the soil. The soil also has to be packed with organic matter, which is easiest to achieve through adding compost. When you’re done preparing soil, move on to preparing the set for your lush jungle.
When you’re trying to achieve the jungle effect, focus on non-woody vegetation. You’ll need numerous foliage plants that come in various colors, textures, and shapes. Dense foliage adds dimension to space, while striking blooms add visual interest to the whole picture. Start with taller varieties, for example, bamboo, bananas, and palm trees. They will create focal points and ensure there’s enough shade for the lower plants. Combine evergreen shrubs with lower plants, too.
Step 2 — Create a Tropical Canopy
You need to recreate the feeling of being inside a jungle, under a tropical canopy. So, you need to create winding paths inside the backyard, which are making their way through dense foliage. This will also save you a lot of time on mowing, as it’s an informal space that doesn’t require much pruning. That’s why you should also choose materials for the paths that more on the informal side. Try stones of different sizes or large cobbles. Alternatively, you can create gravel paths, but don’t try to make them look polished.
In case you want an area where you can walk under trees, plant the evergreen palm Trachycarpus Fortunei. This palm has huge leaves that create a great focal point. You can combine it with musa (banana plant) or cordyline.
Step 3 — Use Containers to Your Advantage
In case you don’t have a lot of available space (for example, a small patio or even a roof terrace), don’t give up. You can still have your lush garden if you use containers. Pick planters of various sizes so that you can accommodate numerous types of potplants in them, including tall ones. Create the feeling of being in a jungle by placing large containers next to each other. If you also add rustic seating and lanterns, you’ll get that jungle vibe, especially in the evening.
Of course, succulents are also welcomed here. However, you’ll have to protect them during winter days. You simply move the succulent pots inside the greenhouse when the cold days arrive. If you don’t have a greenhouse, put them inside your home on the south-facing window.
Step 4 — Proper Lighting
Lighting is very important in any garden, but especially in a tropical garden. Good lighting creates a theatrical atmosphere there, as it highlights the most unusual foliage and textures. If you shed light on the tall trees or the winding paths, you will create an inviting look. The ambiance has to be enhanced at all times, especially at night or at periods of low visibility.
So, use as many different types of lighting as possible. Consider adding decorative lights over the ordinary ones to maximize the effect. When you install all of the types, make sure you turn on the ones that create the strongest impact, depending on the situation. In case of a party, make sure you can dim the lights. You can also get a remote control handset so that you can control the lights from the indoors.
Step 5 — Add a Hut
Hut and other facilities where you can relax in the garden are a great addition to the jungle. If you make them in such a way that they enhance the beauty of the flowers and the greenery, it is a big bonus. So, the best way to use them as an aesthetic addition is to erect them. If you have a lot of space available, it’s one more reason to do it. In case you don’t have a lot of space, no worries. You can still build a small hut just like the one you would build with Quonset Hut. Make sure it’s a tropical-style one. Even a shed hidden inside the thick leaves will do the trick. You could get rolls of bamboo or reed and put them over a felt roof. You could also add some sacking material around its doors, windows, as well as pots. That will enhance the tropical impression.
Step 6 — Add a Water Feature
Water brings serenity and relaxation. No wonder why people are naturally drawn to it – the reflections on its surface, the sounds it makes – it helps us relieve stress and anxiety. However, a water feature is also one of the elements of every vegetation. So, if it’s possible, consider adding it to your backyard jungle.
If you add a pond inside your tropical haven, it will strengthen the sense of being in nature. Ponds also reduce the temperature of the surroundings because it produces a cool breeze. As a bonus, you can make excellent photographs thanks to having a pond inside your private jungle. You will be amazed when you see the reflection of the surrounding greenery in the pond. So, consider digging a few or at least one pond in the backyard. If you like, you can also grow fish in it. However, you’ll have to make sure there’s no mosquito infestation, so maintain the pond regularly.
The alternative is to construct a waterfall or a fountain in case you have enough available space and that your budget allows it. These two constructions aid the level of habitability of the outdoors because they, too, reduce the temperature. It goes without saying they also do a lot for the aesthetics of the garden. You will also notice that aquatic plants, such as water lilies, grow faster.
Step 7 — Decorate the Bases of Walls and Fences
Not an inch of the space available should remain empty inside your jungle garden. If you plant clasping plants in the bases of fences and walls, they will soon climb up and wind around other plants and hedges – it’s a beautiful sight. Clasping plants include passion fruits, apples, and pumpkins. What they actually do is that they clasp their roots onto the fences and walls, creating a stunning focus. They also help form a thick canopy that provides shade and also reduces the chance of fast evaporation.
Step 8 — Plant Grass
If there are small spaces between the plants, think about planting grass or even a lawn there. It will fill the empty space easily. The grass tends to become very green in the spring, creating a true jungle effect. You just have to mow it regularly to reduce the chances of infestation that snakes and rodents can make.
If you decide to grow the green lawn, there are three options, including turf, grass seed, and artificial grass. The cheapest option is to seed the lawn. However, you will probably have to cultivate the soil appropriately first. It needs to contain one-third sand, one-third black dirt, and the remaining third should be compost. If you’re planting from the seed, turf is the more practical choice. Still, the preparation of the soil can’t be avoided. On the plus side, you won’t have to wait for long for the surface to become green. On the other hand, artificial grass requires no maintenance whatsoever. Still, some people wonder if that’s the eco-friendly choice, as it may pollute the environment when you throw it away at some point.
Some of the Best Jungle Plants
1. Tree Ferns
Perfect for a backyard jungle – they bring in the drama effect. Keep them watered during summertime (at the crown). In winter, wrap the crown with dead fronds or straw fleece to protect it from cold.
Popular for their bright flowers and unusual foliage. They will complement the jungle look perfectly. When autumn comes, store the tubers somewhere where frost can’t hurt them during winter days.
3. Foxglove Tree
If you don’t prune it, this tree will quickly grow into a stunning backyard decoration. Its spring flowers can really take your breath away. However, you can also coppice it in late autumn to get huge leaves.
4. Ginger Lillies
They make excellent understory plants of the jungle border. You’ll be delighted by the yellow and orange flowers, as well as the exotic foliage they provide.
5. Pineapple Lillies
Another great plant for the understory layer of the jungle. Its wide leaves and stunning flower spikes are a beautiful addition to your tropical garden. When the winter comes, protect them with a thick layer of mulch.
Use them to add height to the jungle. As they are evergreen plants, you’ll have greenery throughout the whole year. Make sure you remove the foliage from the lower parts to display the attractive stems.
People usually grow them due to their impressive foliage and attractive looks. Most of their types prefer shade. Slugs can hurt the plants badly, so make sure you protect hostas from them.
8. Persicaria microcephala
Use this plant to edge the jungle borders. If you want various colors, pick the “Red Dragon” to combine its purple-red leaves with Periscaria‘s white flowers.
Having a lush backyard jungle is just a matter of time if you put enough effort into it. Following these steps will make the work easier. However, as with any other garden, patience, love and regular maintenance are crucial.