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8 Outdoor Plants with Big Leaves (with Pictures)

You can create a gorgeous tropical garden, even in southern parts of the country, when you add a selection of outdoor plants with big leaves.

These plants are ideal for growing around the pool or your outdoor entertaining area to bring a piece of the tropics to your garden.

Here’s a good selection of outdoor plants that have large leaves.

Tetrapanax papyrifer (Rice paper plant)

Tetrapanax papyrifer Rice paper plant | Plant varieties
Tetrapanax papyrifer

This lovely plant hails from Taiwan and has the most amazing large leaves that are fan-shaped. However, it’s quite hardy and will even grow as far south as Melbourne. It will provide a gorgeous canopy for low-growing plants that prefer the shade.

This plant should be grown in a sheltered position as it doesn’t like heavy winds but will thrive in most soils.

The Rice paper plant produces interesting white flowers in summer and autumn. Once the plant has finished flowering, it should be cut back to ground level and you’ll end up with lots of new shoots in spring.

Colocasia and Alocasia spp. (Elephant’s Ears)

Elephants Ears plant | Plant varieties
Alocasia

This lovely foliage plant has huge dark green leaves with distinctive veins. It will certainly add a dramatic effect to your landscape.

It prefers moist soil that is well-drained as it doesn’t appreciate its roots sitting in water.

Elephant’s ears should be grown in a semi-shaded position as too much harsh sunlight will scorch the leaves. It can even be grown in large containers which makes it perfect as a patio plant.

Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory vine)

Vitis coignetiae | Plant varieties
Vitis coignetiae / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The crimson glory vine is an ornamental grape with large five-lobed leaves that can measure up to 30 cm.

Not only will this lovely vine add some cool greenery to your summer garden, but you’ll be delighted in autumn when the leaves change colour to a gorgeous red. 

It’s a deciduous plant and will drop its lovely leaves in late autumn which is great if you plant it over a pergola where you want the winter sun to shine through. This vine should be pruned back in winter while it’s dormant. 

Monstera deliciosa (Fruit Salad plant)

Monstera deliciosa | Plant varieties
Monstera deliciosa

For large-leaved plants, you can’t go past monstera. I have two of these growing in my garden and they have no trouble dealing with the cold winters. They really do add a tropical feel to the garden and are virtually maintenance-free.

The only thing I do is cut them back when they start to encroach over the path by just cutting off a few of the large leaves at the base.

Like all large-leaved plants, they do prefer a sheltered position that protects them from strong winds.

Yellow Calla Lilies

Yellow Calla Lilies | Plant varieties
Yellow Calla Lilies

A friend gave me a few of these delightful yellow calla lilies and I love seeing the leaves pop up in spring followed by those lovely yellow lily flowers. The leaves are quite large and dark green with white speckles. 

The trick with these is to keep them moist during summer. Otherwise, they’ll go dormant if left to dry out but you’ll see them pop up again the following spring.

Unlike the more common white lilies, these won’t take over your garden but will come up again in the same spot that you planted them.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle-leaf fig)

Ficus lyrata Fiddle leaf fig | Plant varieties
Ficus lyrata

The fiddle-leaf fig is more suited to warm temperate or tropical climates outdoors because it does prefer a high level of humidity.

These trees can grow to a height of 30 metres in tropical rainforests but in cooler areas, it’s best to plant them in a large pot and bring this indoors over winter.

The fiddle-leaf fig prefers moist, well-drained soil and morning sunshine.

Philodendron selloum (Split Leaf Philodendron)

Philodendron selloum Split Leaf Philodendron | Plant varieties
Philodendron selloum

This philodendron has large heart-shaped leaves that are heavily divided. This plant is ideal for planting in a sheltered and shady position under taller trees.

It’s not too fussy about the type of soil it grows in but this should be moist and well-drained.

Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm)

Cycas revoluta Sago Palm | Plant varieties
Cycas revoluta

If you’re looking for a maintenance-free plant with enormous leaves, the sago palm will definitely fit the bill. This palm has a delightful shape with long leaves growing outward from a woody crown.

Cycads are generally quite slow-growing but make excellent specimen plants and can be grown in full sun. They need well-drained soil to avoid fungal problems such as root rot.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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