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Monstera plant in a tropical jungle

How Do You make a tropical garden?

The story of a beautiful tropical garden
here in Qatar

How to grow an amazing
tropical garden in the desert

When Covid began to affect Qatar and the country experienced its first lockdown, many of us embarked on a new project. Something to pass the time whilst we were in lockdown. Some people learnt a new skill, some started to sort through their homes, decluttering and organising. But for some, they turned to their plants. Whether it be creating an indoor air purifying jungle or an outdoor garden. For many people plants became a focus of attention and solace over the lockdown period. For one of Plaza Hollandi’s customers, the idea of creating a tropical garden in Qatar’s desert environment became a new mission.
Mohammed Al Thani has always been interested in plants, however, the lockdown period created a new focus. He wanted to recreate a tropical garden in Qatar, like the ones seen in Singapore, Malaysia, or Thailand. An oasis, in his already beautiful garden, where he could sit and enjoy the cool, shaded area and watch as plants native to the tropics were grown in the desert.
We were fortunate enough to be able to visit the garden and now we are able to share it with you.

Tropical plants grown in the Desert

How to successfully grow houseplants outside

When you at Mohammed’s home you are greeted with a beautiful vibrant display of seasonal petunias, sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds with scented garden roses mixed into the borders and pots. Much the same as any garden in Qatar in the winter months, there is an abundance of colour.
In one dedicated area on the right of Mohammed’s garden, he has created the most beautiful tropical oasis. Full of a variety of banana plants, Monstera, Syngonium plants, Calathea, Bromeliad, and so many more. These plants are sold at our garden centre and generally used by our customers as house plants. They are relatively easy to look after and have in your home. But in this garden, these tropical plants are planted outside all year round. In fact, the only thing that comes inside for the hot summer is an avery full of beautiful love birds.

What is a tropical garden?

A tropical garden is a mixture of colorful foliage and flowers from plants such as orchids, strelitzia, peace lilies, and frangipani. There may be a formal pathway of stepping stones flanked by the unruly foliage of tall palms, air plants and other tropical plantings. There are often large-leafed foliage plants that are mixed with small-leafed plants. Finished off with pebbles, rocks, crushed shells, and large urns and pots.  The rocks in this garden have all been sourced from the south of Qatar. Many of them have coral fossils in the rocks, proving that there was much more water available many years ago in the south of Qatar.

Tropical gardens are all about creating contrast. Large plants mixed with small plants and a strong water feature. This garden has a collection of different water features, that help to keep the humidity high. 

There are terracotta pots full of water and water plants dotted about throughout the garden.  There is a real concerted effort to keep the garden looking natural but organised, adding to the beauty of this garden.  Everywhere you look there is a little surprise, a delicate monstera nestled in between tall strelitzia plant, or a bold Boston fern hanging from one of the original trees that had been planted many years before the tropical garden. To ensure the tropical atmosphere stays the garden is watered daily in the winter and sometimes 3 times a day in the hot summer months.  

Thai garden house in a tropical garden in Qatar

It is not hard to see why this garden has become a passion.  The dedication to the plants and the attention to detail make it a wonderful space to be. It is a quiet natural oasis for the whole family to relax in. Situated at the back of the tropical garden is a beautiful Thai-inspired garden house. Offering the entire family a place to come and relax, listen to the birds, water features, absorbing the pure air that the garden plants will create.

With plans to expand the already large tropical garden, this passion will last well after the lockdowns and restrictions. It has brought a focus on other things rather than just Covid.

Tropical garden with monstera, dieffenbachia plants

What are the best tropical plants?

There are many tropical plants that you can use to create your own tropical garden. For the most part, tropical gardens rely on foliage rather than flowers to create interest all year round.  Placing plants with contrasting foliage next to each other will create drama and interest. The foliage should be flamboyant, lively, and colourful. There is no need to just stick with greens, add reds and variegated foliage to your tropical planting scheme. Planting in groups of odd numbers is a trick commonly used by professionals to create an eye-catching garden. Although this tactic could also be used here, there is no need to plant in a formal manner. Surprises of giant palm leaves, next to a delicate spider plant can make such a difference to the feeling of the garden. 

Obviously, the plants you need to use need to enjoy a humid environment. Some of the best plants to use in a tropical garden are;

  • Bird of Paradise (strelitizia)
  • Fishtale palm
  • Parlor Palm
  • Rhapis Palm 
  • Monstera
  • Sanseveria
  • Syngonium
  • Aglaonema
  • Alocasia
  • Orchid plants
  • Ferns
 
Placing plants with contrasting foliage next to each other will create drama and interest.
For maximum impact, position plants with red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and lime-green leaves next to each other.
 
Colourful flowers, such as fragrant frangipani, hibiscus and canna lilies will warm up the garden and provide further contrast to the vibrant foliage around. Finally add some air plants to your tropical garden. Hang them from the trees, or add them to the branches. All of these tropical plants will add texture, interest and beauty to your garden.
Hanging Plants, tropical plants in a garden in Qatar

How do you maintain your tropical garden?

A tropical garden is best maintained early in the morning before the heat of the day begins or at sunset. Take regular walks around the garden each morning, pruning as you go. Deadheading the plants not only promotes new growth it can also stop diseases and bugs from attaching your plants. If you have the space, create a compost area. This would be an ideal way to give back to the soil. Once you have removed the dead leaves and flowers place them into your compost area. Turn the compost every few days and once it has broken down you can then return the compost back to your garden, nourishing and fertilising your plants.  
 

Don’t expect a tropical garden to be maintenance-free. Remember to prune your plants. This will encourage new growth and stop the plants from going too crazy.  Keep cuttings from plants you love in water containers, pots, or glass bottles to help them to propagate, and then you can add them to your tropical garden to grow into fully-fledged plants.  The need for constant housekeeping means a good pair of secateurs is essential — use them to regularly tidy up any brown foliage, dead leaves, and spent flowers.

tropical garden in Qatar

Ensure your plants stay moist but not soggy. Remember to adjust your watering plans depending on the seasons.  So in the summer when the weather is hot you will need to water your plants more often, in the winter when the weather is cooler they will need less water. The important thing to remember in your tropical garden is that it enjoys moisture, so never let it dry out. 

As we mentioned before your plants will love a good compost or fertiliser! A good fertiliser can encourage new growth and your plants will become established and thrive. If making your own fertiliser is too much then come down to our garden centre and we can provide you with a liquid fertiliser that you can add to your plants. 

Tropical garden in Qatar

Interested in making your own tropical garden?

Has this blog post ignited your interest in creating your own tropical paradise? Our advice would be to start small.  Start by choosing an area that has some shade from trees, buildings etc that would already begin to give the right conditions. Begin with the soil, add fertiliser and create the right conditions for the plants. Choose a few plants that you are already aware of or already have experience with. That way you will know what they like and what conditions they will need to thrive. From there you can build up your collection, adding plants as you go. If you need some inspiration  visit our garden centre or have a look at our tropical plants for sale online.  Our staff are always here to help you create your garden and if it is quick information you want there is plenty on the internet. 

We have a huge array of plants perfect for large-scale projects available at our plant nursery. From palm trees to banana plants everything you will ever need to make your new outdoor space is available in Qatar. If embarking on a tropical garden or any style of large garden is too much for you alone. Why not contact our landscape designer? Our landscape designer can help you to plan your garden and will be able to assist you to find the right plants for the right area in your garden.

For more inspiration, visit our garden centre

Path in a garden filled with stones from Qatar

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