Hilltop Farm From the Air


As sun rooms and home greenhouses become more commonplace, people are growing tropicals more than ever. Tropicals can be used here in Missouri as summer annuals or can be fairly easily overwintered inside. Plants that have been overwintered will often bloom much more heavily as they mature.

We are pleased to offer a selection of some harder-to-find tropicals. Many can be grown successfully in the windowsill or greenhouse during the winter, and then moved outside for the warmer months.

Our plants will impress you with their size and vigor. They are all started here in our greenhouses and they are ready to grow for you!

A few examples of the tropicals we have to offer:


Tender Succulents

With one of our kids living in Southern California, we have watched the succulent craze pick up speed and move across the country. We have always offered a decent selection of hardy succulents, but not a lot of tender ones. We simply could not sell them. But now there is a new interest in these tough plants. Native to dry, inhospitable places (deserts to mountain tops, these plants are used to some abuse. The make great house plants that like to take summer vacations outside. Succulents demand well-drained soil and being allowed to gently dry out between waterings. They do not need much plant food to thrive. Succulents come in many colors and textures. While their colors are most intense under high light and cooler conditions, these plants will survive in less than perfect conditions provided they do not get overwatered.


Commonly known as air plants, these sub-tropical plants are once again becoming popular. Using their roots only as a "hold on" fixture, these pineapple relatives use their leaves to absorb moisture and what little plant food they need. We splash them with a little water every day or two and feed them lightly with a water-soluble fertilizer (Miracle-Gro) once or twice a month. They do like it warm (60 degrees or warmer) in a nice bright spot. Lindsay has created some interesting holders for them: some as window sun catchers, some as a sculpture for a desk or table display. Our plants start life in a specialty nursery in either California or Florida and are not jungle collected! Give them a try.

Elephant Ears

Elephant ears (Alocasia and Colocasia) offer a lush, tropical look to any gardenscape, whether indoors in pots, or outside for the summer in the ground or in a container garden. Elephant ears prefer warm to hot temperatures. They may go dormant if kept at temperatures below the 60's. A copious amount of water is appreciated, and will allow for the fastest growth. Elephant ears prefer bright shade to part sun outside and a sunny window inside. All the elephant ears we offer are actively growing plants, not dry bulbs. By the fall, all will make bulbs that must be lifted for the winter for survival. The alternate method for overwintering elephant ears is to keep them actively growing in a pot in a sunny window.

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Caladiums are the junior cousins of the elephant ears same "elephant ear" leaves, only much smaller and very colorful. Caladiums are best in pots in bright shade to part sun, by themselves or in mixed containers (for example, with maidenhair ferns, impatiens, rex begonias and ivy!)

Caladiums on our front porch.


We grow these sun lovers in hanging baskets. (They like to be pot-bound to bloom the best.) They love the sun and hot weather, making them perfect for a Midwestern summer. We will have plants blooming orange, purple, white, and hot pink. New to the line-up is 'Imperial Thai Delight', a beautiful pink and white bicolor. Add a truly tropical look to your yard this summer!

Bougainvillea 'Imperial Thai Delight'
Bougainvillea 'Imperial Thai Delight'

Dipladenias & Mandevillas

These are easy, heat loving tropicals that love the sun; the hotter and sunnier it gets, the more flowers they bear! The glossy-leaved members of this group are "forgiving" plants that are somewhat drought tolerant. Though recently taxonomists (plant namers) have combined these two groups to all be called Mandevillas, we use the following terminology to distinguish the mounding habit (Dipladenias) from the vining habit (Mandevillas).

'Red Riding Hood' is the rose-pink Dipladenia that we have been offering for years (decades!) It produces and abundance of rose-pink trumpet flowers over semi-trailing, glossy, dark green foliage. It is great in a hanging basket, patio pot, or in combo planters.

'Alice DuPont' is the Mandevilla that we have offered for almost as long. It is a fast growing vine with dull leaves and huge, pink, raspberry-scented trumpet flowers. This plant is best on a trellis of some sort as it is a serious climber.

'Bride's Cascade' is a glossy leaved Mandevilla with large, somewhat frilled, white flowers. This floriferous, fast growing vine will fill a trellis in short order. Beautiful!

'Red Fury' Fire-engine red! Called Mandevillas in the trade, they have glossy leaves and a more mounding habit like a Dipladenia. However, they do vine more than 'Red Riding Hood' but not as much as 'Alice DuPont.' They are great in hanging baskets, patio pots, and shorter trellises.

Dipladenia 'Red Riding Hood'
Dipladenia 'Red Riding Hood'

Mandevilla 'Alice DuPont'
Mandevilla 'Alice DuPont'

Mandevilla 'Bride's Cascade'
Mandevilla 'Bride's Cascade'

Dipladenia 'Red Fury'
Dipladenia 'Red Fury'

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These exceedingly fragrant shrubs are represented by three varieties. Sambac jasmine is fragrant both day and night, forming a one to two foot tall and wide sun loving bush; it is an everblooming plant whose fragrance pleases almost everyone. Nightblooming jasmine obviously blooms at night with small, unattractive blooms that emit a powerfully sweet fragrance. Their fragrance carries many yards on the summer nights' breezes, pleasing entire neighborhoods. The night blooming jasmine quickly forms a summer bush to three feet tall and wide. Orange blossom jasmine has shiny leaves and small white blooms that do smell like orange blossoms. Fruit often follows the blooms. While the fruit is quite decorative, they shouldn't be eaten!

Sambac Jasmine

Night Blooming Jasmine

Rex Begonias

These shade-loving plants grow quickly into beautiful specimens, possessing dazzling "stained-glass" colored leaves. Their ease of growth and their acceptance of pot culture allows you to bring them in the house for the winter without complications. We offer about 30 varieties. One of the easiest houseplants to grow in a bright (but not sunny) window, Rex begonias can also spend the summers outside in shady spot. They do bloom but the foliage color and patterns steal the show.

Rex Begonia

Hawaiian Snow Bush

This gorgeous pink, white, and green tropical foliage plant can easily grow to 3' tall in a summer. It grows equally well in a pot (to be cut back some when brought in for the winter) or treated as an annual and planted directly in the ground. Grow this beauty in sun or part sun with plenty of moisture. Fabulous!

Hawaiian Snow Bush

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Nothing gives such a "tropical" feel as a banana, and they make great backdrops for other plants, too. Bananas prefer full sun, but will accept less with good grace. You can plant banana plants directly into the ground, but they must be dug up in the fall just cut off the top and store the stump and root-ball in cool, frost-free area. The exception is the hardy 'Basjoo', which can remain in the ground all winter!


'Maurelii' Banana
An extremely vigorous grower. Its red foliage quickly grows to 6+ feet tall and wide. It does not "sucker" to form a clump but stays a single-trunked specimen.

'Basjoo' Banana
This banana has green leaves and is supposedly hardy to Zone 5. We were skeptical at first, but when it overwintered for us we became believers! This green-leafed banana will grow just as fast as the other bananas. Our 4-year-old plant gets over 10' tall and 8' wide every summer. In the fall we let the freeze "take it down" and do not clean it up until the spring. Self mulching and much easier clean-up.

Basjoo, the Hardy Banana
A two-year-old 'Basjoo' hardy banana towers over zinnias and container gardens here at Hilltop.

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Giant Papyrus

This is what the ancient Egyptians made paper out of. Loves the moisture and full sun. Will easily grow to 6 feet tall in one season! Elegant!

'Baby Tut' Papyrus
This one looks like its old man, but it gets only 3' tall.

Giant Papyrus

Persian Shield

This dramatic foliage plant shimmers with vibrant purple and silver coloring. It is easily grown in the house or outside for the summer in either sun or part shade. The plant quickly forms a mound 24" x 36" if given enough root room. Trim it back as needed, and in the fall when you bring it in for the winter.

Persian Shield

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