A magnificent advantage of living in the tropical paradise of the Caribbean is being constantly surrounded by beautiful landscapes and explosions of rich color. The flowers that make up the enchanting collage of colors of the Caribbean can be found everywhere, including your own Caribbean property! Here is an introduction to some of the flowers that may be growing in your backyard!

Oleander

This fast growing evergreen shrub can reach up to 20 ft. tall but is usually seen trimmed at 6-10 ft. It is a tough, versatile plant with showy summertime flowers in white, red, pink, salmon and light yellow. Leathery, lance shaped leaves range from about 4-10 inches long, depending on variety and are a bright green. This gorgeous flower is delicately fragrant, but don’t let its soft beauty fool you, it is toxic to humans, do not think about using it in your next salad!

Pink Oleander
Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea was introduced to the Caribbean from Brazil in the 1700’s. Since then, it has adapted well to the Caribbean climate and environment. It is very abundant in the wild and prolific throughout the Caribbean due to the ability of its vines to spread very quickly along the forest floor.

The Bouganivillea plant can reach over thirty feet and can grow as vines, trees, or shrubs with sharp thorns. The leaves of the Bougainvillea are shaped like little hearts with drip tips at the ends in order not to get weighed down by rushing water. They are dark rich green and look almost like ivy leaves. Its vines have tiny hooks so it can cling and hold onto other plants for support. The Bougainvillea flower can be several different colors, from pink, red, orange, to white and yellow. The flowers grow all over the canes and vines.

Purple Bouganvillea photo
‘Lady of the Night’ – Night Blooming Jasmine

The amazing feature of this flower, which also gives rise to its name, is that the only time the flower becomes fragrant is after sundown! Within minutes of when the sun sets, the aroma of the Night Blooming Jasmine appears from zero to full power. There is absolutely no smell nor hint of aroma during the daylight hours. The aroma goes all night long then stops exactly at sunrise, making this a truly magical bloom.

The plant’s base is mostly wood, and dark green leaves with almost no green wood. The stem will grow straight up, with moderate branching, to no more than 5 feet. In spring and summer, the flowers appear in cycles; bursts of long 3-5 inch white flowers that turn pale yellow as they age on the stem. Flowers hold for a long time and a happy specimen can show off 100′s of blossoms on any given evening.

Lady of the Night

Night Blooming Jasmine

Bird of Paradise

The Bird of Paradise flower is a spectacular blossom. Long stemmed flowers emerge from green boat-shaped bracts which are bordered in red or purple. The numerous pointed petals of brilliant orange are contrasted with an arrow-shaped tongue of vivid blue. Some species have white and blue.

Bitds of Paradise

The plant itself can reach up to 5 feet in height with a 2-3 foot spread. The plant is trunk less, compact and clustering but slow growing with fleshy roots. It has banana shaped stiff leathery, concave, oblong, bluish gray leaves with a pale or red midrib. The leaves are attached to a long stalk that sometimes reaches up to 2 feet in length.

Because of the banana shaped leaves and other plant characteristics the Bird of Paradise was originally classified in the banana family Musaceae. However, it now has its own family Strelitziacea. The name Bird of Paradise comes from the spectacular flower shape which resembles a bird’s beak and head plumage.

Andrew Synyshyn

Birds of paradise flower