Cold Hardy Perennials that Give Your Garden that Tropical Feel!

Written by Old Country Gardens in collaboration with Delaware Beaches Online

Delaware is in the transition zone between Zone 6 – 7 which gives us a unique opportunity to try plants that are typically found in more southern regions, an ideal setting for a diverse range of plants. Gardeners in this region can enjoy the beauty and lushness of tropical feeling perennials that not only bring vibrant colors and exotic foliage to their landscapes but also have the resilience to withstand the cooler temperatures of Zones 6b – 7a.

Toad Lilly

Choosing the right perennials for your garden can transform your outdoor space into a tropical paradise, even in a temperate climate. Here is a curated list of tropical-like perennials that will winter over and thrive in the Delaware zones, ensuring that your garden remains a lush and colorful haven year after year.

  1. Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
    • Known for its large, colorful flowers.
    • Can withstand colder temperatures than other hibiscus varieties.
    • Prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
    • Attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  2. Canna Lily (Canna spp.)
    • Bright, large flowers in colors ranging from red to yellow.
    • Large, tropical-looking foliage.
    • Can be left in the ground with proper mulching.
    • Thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.
    • Adds height and drama to garden beds.
  3. Banana Plant (Musa basjoo)
    • Hardy banana variety that can survive cold winters.
    • Cut back and mulch heavily for winter protection.
    • Fast-growing with large, tropical leaves.
    • Creates a bold focal point in the garden.
    • Prefers full sun and rich, well-drained soil.
  4. Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium)
    • Fragrant, showy flowers and lush foliage.
    • Hardy in zone 7 with mulching and proper winter care.
    • Prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
    • Attracts butterflies and adds a fragrant touch to gardens.
  5. Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
    • Delicate, drooping flowers that attract hummingbirds.
    • Can survive winters in zone 7 with mulching.
    • Thrives in partial shade and well-drained soil.
    • Provides continuous blooms from late spring to fall.
    • Adds a splash of color to shady garden spots.
  6. Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis)
    • Large, glossy leaves and tall flower spikes.
    • Hardy and can withstand winter temperatures in zone 7.
    • Prefers partial shade to full sun and well-drained soil.
    • Striking architectural plant that adds texture to gardens.
    • Ideal for borders and as a background plant.
  7. Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)
    • Produces vibrant, petunia-like flowers.
    • Hardy in zone 7, dies back in winter but returns in spring.
    • Thrives in full sun to partial shade.
    • Tolerant of heat and humidity.
    • Excellent for adding color to borders and containers.
  8. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
    • Graceful, arching foliage that adds a tropical look.
    • Hardy and can survive winters in zone 7.
    • Prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
    • Adds movement and texture to shady garden areas.
    • Ideal for borders, ground covers, and container gardens.
  9. Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta)
    • Unique, orchid-like flowers that bloom in late summer to fall.
    • Hardy perennial that can survive in zone 7 with mulching.
    • Thrives in partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.
    • Adds a touch of exotic beauty to woodland gardens.
    • Perfect for shady borders and understory plantings.
  10. Inca Holland® Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria hybrid)
    • Produces vibrant, lily-like flowers in a variety of colors.
    • Hardy in zone 7 with proper winter protection.
    • Prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
    • Long-lasting blooms ideal for cutting gardens.
    • Adds a splash of color to mixed borders and containers.


Transforming your Delaware garden into a tropical paradise is not only possible but also enjoyable with the right selection of cold-hardy perennials. These plants bring the vibrant colors and exotic foliage reminiscent of more southern regions, while still being resilient enough to thrive through the cooler temperatures of Zones 6b – 7a. By incorporating these tropical-feeling perennials into your garden, you can create a lush, colorful haven that will delight you year after year.

Ready to start your tropical garden transformation? Visit Old Country Gardens in northern Delaware to find a wide selection of perennials, expert gardening advice, and everything you need to bring your tropical garden vision to life. Happy gardening!

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This blog was written in collaboration with Old Country Gardens and Delaware Beaches Online. Thanks for reading!

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