Expert advice

What the experts have to say about remodeling your backyard
Debra Lee Baldwin

Fantasy Island in Los Angeles

When Andy Zuckowich lived in Hawaii, he began collecting gingers, heliconias, and plumerias. Later, in California, his passion for tropicals grew into a business. Today Aloha Tropicals sells a variety of fragrant and fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines. "A surprising number of orders come from people who plant gardens to bring back memories," Zuckowich says. He offers the following advice.

Choose hardy plants. Some of the toughest are stepladder ginger (Costus barbatus), flowering banana (Musa ornata), and Heliconia latispatha 'Orange Gyro'.

Move plants seasonally. In cold climates, grow tropicals in pots outdoors in summer; sink them into the ground and conceal the rims. In winter, move them to a sunroom.

Care for rhizomes. If you grow tropicals that have rhizomes, such as cannas and ginger, in an area that gets frost, cut back foliage in fall, then blanket the soil with mulch. Where the ground freezes, dig out the rhizomes in fall to store for winter.

INFO: Aloha Tropicals, Vista, CA (760/631-2880)

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