An ongoing, ever-evolving list of plants we grow or that we have heard you can grow, in the tropics. Full posts on all of these plants, trees, and herbs are to come. We focus on plants that grow well and easily in tropical conditions, not those that require a lot of extra work, pesticides and chemicals.
In the tropics a lot of your gardening will revolve around perennials. The annual plantings that we’re used to in cooler climates don’t happen so often in a tropical climate. Some plants will almost grow themselves with zero effort, others need some work Of course, the best plants to grow in the tropics are the plants that are native to tropical areas.
This is not a complete list, this is what we’ve found works so far and have tried to grow with success. If you have any more suggestions for food plants to grow in the tropics, please do let us know in the comments.
Food Plants You Can Grow in The Tropics
A lot of the food plants you can grow in the tropics are quite surprising. If, like me, you’re from a cooler climate, be it temperate or Mediterranean, you might be amazed that you can grow crops like broccoli, snow peas, beans, and Mediterranean herbs. You certainly can grow these colder climate crops, just give them a little shade from other plants and most seem to do OK so long as the soil is good.
- Moringa for “superfood” leaves and drumsticks. Moringa is not a legume, although it’s often mistaken for one.
- Curry Leaf (a close relative of neem)
Fruit That Grows in The Tropics
- Ruby Grapefruit
- Kaffir Limes
- Finger Limes
- Passion Fruit
- Star Apple
- Star Fruit
- Papaya (Paw Paw)
Green Leafy Veg to Grow in the Tropics
We eat a lot of greens that you may not have realised are edible. Tropical greens that can be eaten include sweet potato tops (same family as morning glory), radish tops, and pumpkin shoots. As well as these more unusual greens, standard greens like kale and broccoli can also grow in the tropics.We eat broccoli leaves as you would spinach and they’re particularly tasty. In our experience rocket grows very fast and well and will grow for years.
- Sweet Potato Vine Leaves
- Kale (many varieties)
- Pumpkin tops, radish tops, all can be eaten as greens
- Various types of perennial tropical spinach
Peas Beans and Pulses to Grow in Tropical Conditions
- Bush Beans (French Beans)
- Snake Beans
- Red Snake Beans
- Purple Podded Beans
- Pidgeon Peas
- Mung Beans
- Dwarf Red Snake Beans
Other Fruit and Veg to Grow in a Tropical Climate
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Larger Tomatoes
- Aubergines (Eggplant )
- Thai Eggplant
- Peppers, all kinds
- Chilis (can be perennial)
- Pumpkins Guide to growing pumpkins in the tropics here)
- Cucumbers, seem to not like the hottest months
- Cucamelons (easy)
- Radishes (fast)
- Snow Peas when it’s cool
- Courgettes (with difficulty, powdery mildew and squash bugs love them)
- Patty Pan Squash (also tricky)
Herbs and Spices That Will Grow in The Tropics
- Lemon Grass
- Garlic Chives
- Asian corriander (this grows as a volunteer for us)
- Flat Leaf Parsley
- Vietnamese mint
- Mints – various (easy)
- Thai Basil, lemon basil etc.
- Mushroom plant.
- Mother of herbs, very good in sleepy tea.
- Flat-leaf parsley ( needs effort)
- Celery leaf
- Sage (I haven’t got a sage plant through the wet season yet.)