Kings Plant Barn - 10 Great Tropical Plants for Auckland
16th February 2017

10 Great Tropical Plants for Auckland

By Billy Aiken


Why jet off to foreign places when you can escape to a tropical location this summer by bravely walking into your garden. There are a huge number of incredibly luscious tropical plants that can be easily grown in Auckland.


Hover over the interactive image below for details of how you can create this look in your own garden.


Here are 10 of our favourite tropical treasures:





Whether it’s deciduous or evergreen, large or small, any hibiscus in flower will undoubtedly catch your eye with its gloriously stunning display.

There are loads of different varieties of tropical hibiscus, but they all fall into three main types, and knowing a bit about each will help when you make your choice.



Cold-hardy shrubs that normally retain their leaves through winter. The flowers are slightly smaller than the other types of hibiscus and the shrubs tend to be relatively large.



Smaller-growing, cold-tender shrubs with huge flowers.
Like to be grown in a warm, sheltered, sunny site. 


Clarke's Hybrid

New Zealand-bred varieties by Jack Clarke that are ideally suited to Auckland conditions. They are a cross between Fijian and Hawaiian hibiscus.


Hibiscus (c) Ger Dekker ( CC BY-SA 2.0


Growing Conditions



Full sun. Grows best in a sheltered sunny spot in free-draining soil rich in organic matter.

Growing Tips

Mix in compost and sheep pellets when planting. 

Water and  feed newly planted shrubs regularly.

For more growing tips click here


Tropical Frangipani


Suche (c) Dinesh Valke ( CC BY-SA 2.0


These picturesque shrubs produce a massive array of gorgeous and delightfully scented blooms. However, to get them looking really great in Auckland there are a few tricks. 


Plumeria (c) Ana Rodriguez Carrington (  CC BY 2.0


Growing Tips

These plants have fairly delicate roots, and they hate to sit in wet soil. To avoid problems:

  • Leave in the original container for a year, though you can place it where you would eventually like it.
  • When you do plant it out, either plant into a container or in spot that is very free-draining.
  • Over summer frangipani like the soil to be kept moist but not damp. In winter they require practically no watering. If in a container, many people will bring them inside over the winter to help protect them.
  • Make sure that it is kept in a frost-free place over winter.
  • Feed every 4-6 weeks through spring and summer with half-strength mix of Kings Ocean Grow to keep them well fed and healthy. 


Tropical Impatiens


starr-070906-8702-Impatiens_hawkeri-pink_flowers-Kula_Ace_Hardware_and_Nursery-Maui (c) Forest and Kim Starr ( CC BY 2.0


Also known as New Guinea Impatiens, growing these shade-loving perennial plants is a great way to add a splash of colour into those darker spots in the garden. 


starr-080117-1487-Impatiens_hawkeri-flowering_habit-Walmart_Kahului-Maui (c) Forest and Kim Starr ( CC BY 2.0


Growing Tips



Part shade-shade. Plant in free-draining soil rich in organic matter.


Mix in compost before planting. Or in poor-draining areas use Living Earth Garden Mix to create a raised bed.


Feed with Kings Ocean Grow.




AKA Rocket Trumpets

Although their common name in the USA sounds like they’re a 70s jazz fusion band with pretensions, Mandevillas are actually a genus of delightful sub-tropical and tropical vines. Vines that in New Zealand regularly erupt each summer with vibrant eye-catching flowers in a variety of colours, including whites, pinks and reds.



Growing Tips


Best planted in bright, indirect light. They can get burned if they get too much direct sunlight. 


Prefer free-draining soil rich in organic matter.


As Mandevillas are vines they will need some support, use trellis or some other form of support for them to grow up.

Water and feed regularly.

For more growing click here





Producing an abundance of exquisitely scented blooms, these delightful tropical plants are well suited to Auckland's climate. There are many different cultivars available, from groundcovers to small shrubs. Most produce pure white blooms, though a few yellow flowering varieties are often available.



Growing Tips


Best grown in part shade. Gardenias require bright light to flourish and can often deal with full sun. However, they may get sunburnt over summer if they aren't in some shade from the midday sun. 

Prefer free-draining, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter. Add compost and sheep pellets to the soil before planting and avoid using lime. To help soil structure in heavier soils use Gypsum as it won't effect the acidity of the soil.


Water regularly through summer and keep the soil moist but not damp.

Feed with Kings Slow Release Acidic Fertiliser or, for a natural option, use Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster.

If the leaves of  your gardenia start getting yellow apply Sequestron or Epsom salts





Before flowering, tropical vireya rhododendrons don’t particularly catch the eye, despite their relatively attractive, dark green foliage. But as soon as their flower buds burst they become truly stunning, as they provide a bright and incredibly opulent display that is staggering to behold.

Smaller than other rhododendron, most vireyas grow around 1-1.8m.


Growing Tips


Vireyas prefer dappled shade, though they will cope with anything from moderate sun to fairly dense shade.

Prefer free-draining, slightly acidic soils.

For more advice click here


Canna Lilies


Canna Indica (c) Megan Hansen ( CC BY-SA 2.0


Easy to grow and, when planted in the right spot, Canna lillies will produce an abundance of delightful, tropical-looking foliage along with vibrant flowers. There are many different varieties available, and they come in a plethora of different coloured leaves and flowers. 


Growing Tips


Full sun. They are best planted in fertile soil rich in organic matter. Before planting mix compost and sheep pellets in with the soil. They will do better in frost-free positions.


Keep the soil they are planted in moist through the growing season by watering regularly.

Cut back as required. The leaves can used to mulch around other plants. 




Stephanotis? (c) Sarah ( CC BY 2.0starr-080530-4658-Marsdenia_floribunda-flower_buds-Keehi_Lagoon-Oahu (c) Forest and Kim Starr ( CC BY 2.0


Native to Madagascar, this gorgeous climber produces stunning, pristine white, highly scented buds and flowers. Can be grown indoors or in a sheltered frost-free spot in part shade. 

Can grow around 4-5m tall.


Stephanotis Blooms instead of just buds (c) Joel ( CC BY-ND 2.0


Growing Tips



Semi shade. Plant in free-draining soil rich in organic matter. Can be grown indoors in indirect or filtered bright light. Keep in a frost-free spot.

Care and Planting

Mix in compost and sheep pellets before planting in the ground. If planting them into a pot use Kings Potting Mix if they are inside, or use Kings Container Mix when planting outside.

Feed regularly with Kings Fast Food or for a natural option use Kings Ocean Grow.


Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise (c) Heather Harvey ( CC BY-SA 2.0


Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia spp.) are an incredibly easy-to-grow and hardy ornamental plant. The stunning flower produces no pollen, so it's generally great to plant if people are worried about allergies. Tolerant of coastal conditions.



Growing Tips


Full sun. Prefers fairly free-draining soil rich in organic matter.


Cut back spent flowers to promote flowering.

Feed with Kings Ocean Grow to keep healthy and flowering.

Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.





There are a huge number of palms to choose from. Whether you plant our one native palm, Nikau, or an exotic such as Kentia, they are the perfect way to give your garden a relaxing tropical feel.


Click here to read more about the different palms available to grow in Auckland. 



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