In the dead of winter, Oklahoma City can feel a long, long way from the tropics. But if you’re already preparing for spring’s warm weather and sunshine, you can make a shaded, well-planted backyard feel like paradise. Before you set out to transform your outdoor living space, take a look at this guide to enjoying tropical plants in Oklahoma.
Know your soil
Most tropical plants need soil that drains well – think sand, not clay. This can be a challenge throughout central Oklahoma, where the soil can be dense and compact easily. This kind of clayey soil can be seen in the western half of Oklahoma County. The eastern half of Oklahoma County tends to have sandy loam soil, which drains quite well.
You may find that you need to supplement your soil with a soil conditioner which contains small pieces of bark, peat moss, and perlite. This will help your soil drain effectively, and keep your tropical plants thriving.
If you want to enjoy your tropical plants season after season, Dee Nash at Red Dirt Ramblings recommends taking cuttings and overwintering them in a sunny window sill. For Nash, tropical plants should be treated with the same expectations as annuals – you’ll have to replant them after they die in the winter.
Take cuttings from healthy, robust plants, cutting a non-flowering bud with a sharp knife. Strip off the lower leaves, and cut the stem right below where the leaves were attached. You can then pot this cutting, place the pot in a plastic bag, and set it in a window sill.
Divide the plants, and in the spring you’ll have a whole new crop ready to be planted in your beds.