Anyone who has ever experienced a German winter knows exactly why exotic plants and houseplants are so popular in Germany. Here you can find out which exotic plants and house plants brighten up the cloudy weather in Germany a little.

Exotic plants for the garden

The exotic plants that can withstand the climate in our gardens come from “exotic Italy” rather than from “exotic Sumatra”. That’s a good thing. What comes from the tropics or the rainforest would like to enjoy a humidity of over 90% around you in our garden. Rather a rarity in German gardens.

On the other hand, the frost tolerance of the plants that thrive only slightly south of us is much greater than we are usually known or aware of. For example, figs and palms, camellias and pines, cypresses and laurel trees grow in Ticino, although the climate in Ticino is already well on the way from the Mediterranean to the cold winter climate (as in Germany). And if one of these plants has ventured up to the heights, which are not exactly uncommon there, it has certainly already experienced a lot of cold. Plants grown there therefore also have good chances in Germany.

However, you shouldn’t expect miracles, first and foremost the frost tolerance of young plants. Any temperatures you explore in relation to a plant’s winter hardiness apply only to vigorous, fully grown plants. Young plants are much more sensitive and can withstand much less cold. Your exotic plants should therefore be big and strong in the tub before they are allowed to move into the garden.

Then the exotic trees can only be planted in spring so that they can take root and acclimatize gradually by winter. These plants should all get sunny and sheltered locations, many benefit from a protective underplanting, e.g. B. with Mediterranean strawflower (Helichrysum) and butcher’s broom (Ruscus), sage, lavender or thyme.

If there is a serious risk of cold, you should give an exotic plant a winter protection in case of doubt, which can be applied in different strengths and thus can compensate for various deviations between the actual and the target temperature.

Here is a selection of exotic plants that bring a wonderful and extraordinary flair to the garden and which can usually withstand winter in Germany:

  • Bitter orange, Poncirus trifoliata: One of the very robust plants with an exotic appearance. The citrus plant, which sheds leaves and is frost-tolerant to minus 25 degrees Celsius, should also set fruit in our field. However, they can only be used to flavor tea. Even jam should become too bitter from this bitter orange, which should not be confused with the bitter orange.
  • Chilean araucaria, Araucaria araucana: Can also short-term temperatures down to minus 20 degrees. With the very special needles, it is exotic for close inspection, from far away it just looks like a Christmas tree.
  • Real fig tree, Ficus carica: An exotic species that has spread widely, even in areas with mild winter conditions such as the Danish Baltic Sea islands and southern England. However, the frost that the figs endure cannot exactly be called Siberian. North of the Alps, you will only enjoy fig trees for longer in regions with a wine-growing climate. And that also assumes that the fig is in a well-protected place. There are special cultivars for colder areas that should be frost-hardy down to minus 15 degrees.
  • Hemp palm, Trachycarpus fortunei: some specimens of these palm trees can be found in the Cologne Bay all year round. They can easily withstand temperatures as low as minus 17 degrees, and when it gets colder they need winter protection.
  • Japanese Aukube, Aucuba japonica: Robust and tolerates frost for a short time up to minus 20 degrees. However, one can be divided about whether Aukuben really look seriously exotic.
  • Japanese camellia, Camellia japonica: grow outdoors in mild winter regions. If they are given a protected location and a layer of mulch and a fleece cover in winter, they can withstand temperatures of around minus 15 degrees.
  • Japanese fiber banana, Musa basjoo: A real banana that is used to temperature problems from East Asia. In preferred locations in the British Isles and in southern Sweden the whole plant can overwinter outdoors. It can be planted out where it is colder, but must be capped with the first frost. The rhizome is then covered thickly, and the fiber banana will sprout again in the next spring.
  • Japanese loquat, Eriobotrya japonica: Withstands frosts down to minus 15 degrees. In warm and rain-protected places it can grow into a decorative shrub with the exotic charm of an orange tree.
  • Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora: With its large porcelain-white flowers it definitely looks exotic. Still tolerates cold temperatures down to minus 20 degrees for a short time.
  • Mediterranean cypress, Cupressus sempervirens: Hardy down to minus 15 degrees, the classic if you already define Tuscany as an exotic environment.
  • Olives, Olea europaea: For us, planting out is always an experiment. This should only be attempted in mild regions and in a protected location in the garden where the olive enjoys a mild microclimate.
  • Silk acacia, Albizia: Absolutely exotic appearance with finely pinnate leaves and pink flower brushes. Nevertheless, it is exceptionally robust and can withstand temperatures of up to minus 20 degrees for a short time.

If you can plant all these plants in your garden, it will be very similar to a tropical paradise. However, you would need to know in which climate zone you live in order for the temperature information just listed to make sense. You would have to deal with the microclimate at the planned location of the exotic plant. In the city center, in front of a protective wall, close to the heated house wall, in an inner courtyard that is also sunny in winter, many exotic species can survive. Perhaps he can even benefit from the warmth that a dark pavement gives off at night.

The last decisive characteristics are the origin and the rearing. If a young plant has been grown in northern Italy or the Pyrenees, where it has already “sniffed a bit of cold”, and then slowly gets used to even more cold, it can work with wintering in the German garden. In this respect, holiday souvenirs from nurseries in these areas are definitely recommended, because you at least know exactly where your exotic product comes from.

If the exotic plant was grown in a Dutch greenhouse or comes in a container from a South Asian plantation, you will probably never be lucky with this plant. Speaking of holiday souvenirs: please spare the German garden world with imports from really exotic countries. Often these are protected plant species. The export / import of other plants is also often punishable. It is also not unlikely that you will bring in exotic bacteria, viruses or insects, which in extreme cases can cause a lot of damage.

Popular exotic houseplants

Exotic house plants are offered in large quantities. Every exotic plant that certainly cannot survive in the garden in Germany could at least be sold as an exotic houseplant. If it doesn’t survive long, it’s the carpenters’ fault. This is exactly how it is handled by part of the trade.

In purely factual terms, however, it is very similar to the exotic garden plants: Plants that are used to intense equatorial light and more than 90% humidity have a hard time in any German living room that is healthy for people and the building structure. If you create conditions that plants will enjoy, the wallpaper will mold your walls. You yourself do not necessarily suffer from the high humidity, but you could get sick from the increased mold in such a climate.

Accordingly, not very many exotic plants in Germany have the prospect of a long life … These exotic houseplants are known for being able to be reconciled with German conditions:

  • Avocado, Persea americana or P. gratissima: Well-drained soil, medium water requirement, light seedlings without blazing sun, place older avocados in full sun, tolerates room temperatures all year round.
  • Bow hemp, Sansevieria trifasciata: Tolerates every care mistake except for waterlogging, can be easily propagated by leaf cuttings.
  • Real aloe, aloe vera: needs a lot of water in summer, but wants to be kept dry in winter.
  • Maidenhair fern, Adiantum: Light location without direct sun, water and fertilize moderately.
  • Long-leaved fig, Ficus longifolia: As the name suggests, exceptionally long leaves, almost reminiscent of grass or bamboo, easy to care for in heated rooms.
  • Antler fern, Platycerum bifurcatum: Grows in nature on trees, in the room also in soil in partially shaded / shady places, leaves with a wax layer can withstand dry heated air, but not water.
  • Pomegranate, Punica granatum: Sunny and warm place, quite a lot of water in summer, cool place to rest in winter, then loses the leaves, easy to care for.
  • Green lily, Chlorophytum comosum: Filters pollutants from the room air, can be kept in a traffic light, willing to grow and frugal.
  • Pitcher plant, Nepenthes: Carnivorous plant, easy to care for when there is high humidity and lots of light, but then very decorative.
  • Candlestick flower, Ceropegia: One of the easiest to care for ampelous plants with no special requirements in terms of location or care.
  • Mandarine, Citrus reticulata: Bright location without midday sun, likes high humidity, moderate watering, winter rest period in a cool, bright room.
  • Mango, Mangifera indica: Does not tolerate calcareous water in the long term, moderate to medium water requirement depending on the vigor, likes a lot of sun after getting used to it, otherwise easy to care for.
  • Maracuja, Passiflora edulis: climbing plant with quite high water and light requirements, in winter rest with limited irrigation, does not like calcareous water in the long run.
  • Orange, Citrus × sinensis: Sunny, sheltered place, moderate watering, winter rest period in a cool, bright room.
  • Physio nut, Jatropha curcas: Robust, undemanding and hardly susceptible to disease, sap is poisonous.
  • Zamie, Zamioculcas zamiifolia: Easy-care arum plant, is actually happy with any location, but grows faster in bright places.
  • Common fir, Araucaria heterophylla: Keep light and cool, watering without waterlogging, otherwise quite problem-free.

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