TROPICAL is the only way to describe Newcastle's summer weather.
There are many plants that cope with this humid weather, including some that won't grow in colder areas down south.
Other plant species survive but suffer along the way - one such variety is the ficus.
If you have noticed your weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) dropping leaves, this occurs as a result of variable temperatures.
Once the humidity goes, nice new shoots will appear but be careful not to leave water in the saucer under container-grown plants as this increases humidity.
January can be an interesting time to plant out a tropical garden as many plants used are readily available.
Use a frangipani as a centrepiece and under plant with colourful gingers and cordylines, which are now grown in many different colours, including stripes, pinks and burgundy.
Add the brightness and variety of crotons and border with rheos.
I find Golden Durantas and Alternanthera dentata provide great blocks of colour, particularly planted to contrast each other.
Bougainvillea are spectacular this year - they love a dry summer.
Their showy bracts are borne over many months providing brilliant summer colour.
Young bougs can die from excessive care - they are sensitive to over watering and over feeding.
Be careful when planting out new bougainvillea and frangipani, as often their root system is not very well developed.
Make sure the soil adheres to the root ball as you take it out of the pot.
Always plant well ahead of winter as they can be frost tender.
Hibiscus are easy to grow, but after establishment, they do like being fertilised with cow manure at regular intervals - this prevents yellowing leaves.
The greatest detractor to hibiscus are the holes.
They are continually being plagued by small snails and the hibiscus beetle which, fortunately, can be controlled with Confidor.