The Caribbean is home to some of the most biodiverse places on earth.
There are thousands of different species of plants, from flowers to berries to tomatoes.
And tropical gardens have been around for centuries, but the world has never had a clear definition of what constitutes a tropical garden.
There is growing consensus that it should be defined by the landscape, not just by the plants.
So far, the only official definition is to include a tropical landscape in which all vegetation is grown in close proximity to water, but scientists and the public are divided over what constitutes “a tropical” garden.
“There is growing agreement that it ought to be defined as a landscape where all vegetation grows in close to water and all water is conserved,” says Paul J. Laughlin, an ecologist at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
That definition has led to a lot of confusion in the world of tropical gardening.
“It’s like the old saying that ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,'” says Robert J. Sargent, an agronomist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
“What is considered a tropical place, if you have plants in close contact with water, is the one that is a really special case.”
Growing plants in a tropical setting can have many benefits.
For example, some of these plants will benefit from a warmer climate.
The plant will benefit by providing nutrients to the soil and also by providing moisture.
This also means the plants can be watered during the summer months, and then harvested later in the year.
Plants grown in a more arid environment may be less productive and can become damaged.
Some of the plants grow well in tropical areas.
“The tropical garden can be a good way to grow food for livestock, for poultry, for pigs, for cattle,” says Sargengard.
The plants are also important for people.
Some species of trees can grow in warmer climates and may be better suited to growing in tropical settings.
“We have seen some evidence that plants grown in tropical gardens are also better adapted to cooler temperatures,” he says.
But how do plants get to such a place?
There are two main ways to grow plants in tropical environments.
The first is by planting in a field, and the second is by building a small container in a forest or grassland.
The term “container” is used in many different ways to describe how containers are planted.
For many tropical gardens, the container is a wooden log.
In fact, the idea is that if you planted a small plastic container in the ground and it got buried, it would still be there when you were growing the plants next year.
“So you have two possible scenarios: either you planted in the middle of the forest, or you planted someplace where you would have to dig a trench, and that could cause problems for people,” says Laughlin.
Another important difference between the two is that the container can be made of more than just wood.
“If you are growing tomatoes, you can grow them indoors,” says J. Scott Gebhart, a forest ecologist who is part of the tropical garden team at the National Geographic Society.
“Or if you are trying to grow bananas in a greenhouse, you might need to use more than one type of container.”
Some of these containers will have some water that is taken from the soil through the soil, while others will have a more limited amount of water that must be brought in.
“In the latter case, the water that you need to bring in depends on the size of the container and how large the container,” says Gebharts team leader, Dr. Daniela Nascimento.
In addition, in a container like this, there are a lot more factors that go into the success of the plant, including temperature and humidity.
Some plants are more sensitive to low-humidity conditions than others.
“When we have low humidity and low temperatures, we may get the plants to do better, but if the temperature is very high, it’s very likely that we will get the plant to do less well,” says Nasciments team leader Dr. Jeroen van der Luyden.
“And if the soil temperature is low, you may get plants that don’t do well.”
So for many tropical gardeners, there is more than a good reason to plant containers in the tropics.
But, it can be tricky to figure out exactly how to grow your plants in the right way.
The next time you’re in the Caribbean and want to grow some fresh vegetables or fruits, you’ll want to know what you can do to help your plants survive and thrive.
This is one of the topics we’re going to cover in our upcoming tropical garden series.
You can find more about the subject at our Tropical Garden series.