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What Are the Best Tropical House Plants to Grow? Here’s Our Picks

Thinking of growing some tropical house plants? Here's our tips for growing exotic plants indoors & our top picks to choose from.
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When you think of a tropical environment, you imagine an oasis of relaxation where man and nature live in perfect harmony. If a visit to the tropics is not possible for your right now, you can always bring the tropics to your home.

The allure of exotic destinations comes partly from the luscious foliage of tropical plants. You may find this hard to believe, but many tropical plants are actually very hardy and adaptable and can be grown indoors in most parts of the world.

In the following article, we will talk about the advantages of growing these plants indoors. We will also give you some tips for growing exotic plants indoors and we will give you a list of the best tropical plants to grow indoors.

Benefits of Growing Tropical Plants Indoors

Growing plants indoors is good for both your mental and physical health. For good indoor air quality, you should own at least 20 plants. While all plants have benefits when grown indoors, tropical plants are even more efficient. Here’s how they help.

Air purification

All plants purify the air to a certain degree. However, tropical plants tend to be leafier, so they do a better job filtering carbon dioxide. Moreover, most palm species are also particularly effective in filtering xylene and toluene from the air.

Well-being

Since they are associated with exotic landscapes, tropical plants can induce a strong relaxation vibe. Coming home to a place full of exotic plants is a great way to leave behind the stress of the urban jungle. Plants are also known to release anxiety, headaches, and fatigue. The natural green colour of plants is also known to induce relaxation.

Tips for Growing Tropical Plants Indoors

Your home may not look like the tropics, but it provides heat and shelter, so it can be a great growing environment for a tropical plant. There are a few key factors that you need to consider if you want to grow lush exotic plants indoors.

Choose your containers wisely

Even if you have a garden, you are better off growing tropical plants in containers. This will make it easier for you to move the plants when the temperatures drop. Make sure to pick the right container for each plant. For example, palms prefer deep pots. Choose quality plastic pots with UV protection and all-weather resistance.

For orchids, it is best to opt for transparent pots. They tend to grow better if their roots also get some sunshine. In a natural environment, orchids grow on trees, with their roots exposed and enjoying plenty of sunshine. These are general guidelines, but it is best to do some research and see which type of container is better for each plant.

Choose the right soil

Tropical plants prefer loose and porous soil with a lot of organic matter. You can mix typical raised-bed soil with compost. Good drainage is also essential for tropical plants.

Fertilize regularly

Tropical plants are fast growers, so they need a lot of nutrients, especially during the growing season. You should add organic matter to the soil, but regular fertilization is also essential. A slow-release fertilizer will yield the best results. From time to time, you can also use liquid fertilizer.

Top 10 best tropical plants to grow indoors

1. Caesalpinia

Also known as the Bird of Paradise, this is one of the most popular exotic plants that you can grow indoors. It comes in many varieties, the most popular being Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia Nicolai. Both varieties feature large leathery leaves, which resemble the leaves of the banana tree. The leaves sprout from ground level. The flowers grow on a stiff stalk, featuring orange sepals and blue petals and they resemble a tropical bird.

caesalpinia pulcherrima flower
Caesalpinia pulcherrima flower

Indoor plants can grow up to 1 meter tall and they need about 3-5 to bear flowers. Some indoor plants may never bloom, so make sure you consider all the growth requirements before you add a Caesalpinia to your collection.

To thrive indoors, these plants need warmth, regular watering, and plenty of sunshine. To boost their growth, add some compost to its potting mix at the beginning of spring and fertilize them once a week during the growing season. While this is a plant that loves sunshine, the direct midday summer sun can be a bit too much for it, so it will require shelter.

2. Dracaena Marginata

This plant is known as the Dragon Tree. It is a tall plant that can grow to 10 meters tall. However, it won’t grow taller than 2 meters indoors, especially if you prune it regularly. It features long, thin leaves with red edges. It is a very low maintenance plant, suitable for beginner gardeners. It has a very high resistance to droughts, so it will survive if you forget to water it from time to time.

Madagascar Dragon Tree
Madagascar Dragon Tree: How to Grow & Care for “Dracaena Marginata”

This plant requires a loamy, well-draining potting mix. Because it grows very slowly, it will need to be repotted once every 2-3 years. Regular repotting is also important to aerate the soil and maybe add some more nutrients to it. It prefers an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. The moderate humidity of the typical house will do fine for this plant, but it is best to keep it away from vents and drafts.

3. Alocasia Amazonica

This plant is also known as Alocasia Polly or Elephant’s Ear. It is a low-growing plant with very unique foliage. Its lush green leaves have an irregular shape with wavy edges and strong creamy white vines. It grows up to 40 cm tall and it prefers and an average temperature of 24 °C. Technically, this is a hybrid plant that was created in Florida from a mixture of tropical Asian plants.

Amazon Elephant Ear
Amazon Elephants Ear Plant: How to Grow & Care for “Alocasia x Amazonica”

Unlike most tropical plants which love sunshine, this plant prefers shade. It does need a warm and humid environment, and it requires regular watering. During the growing season, you must maintain the soil moist and you must feed the plant every 2-3 weeks. It needs well-aerated soil with good draining properties. You can make your mix for this plant if you combine perlite, with bark, coconut coir, worm castings, and horticultural charcoal.

4. Anthurium andraeanum

This plant is more commonly known as the Flamingo flower or Painter’s Palette. Its scientific name roughly translates to a flower with a tail which is a great description for this plant’s flower. This plant is a tad pretentious when it comes to sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn its leaves and shade will impede its blooms. Your best bet is a bright indirect light.

Anthurium andraeanum
Anthurium andraeanum

Anthurium needs regular watering, but it is important not to overwater it as it is prone to root rot. Fertilization is only necessary once every 3-4 months.

5. Caryota Mitis

This bushy palm is also known as the Fishtail palm. It has a rather unique appearance, featuring large leathery leaves in a dark green colour. It is the split ends of the leaves that give it the fishtail appearance. Given the fact that this plant is technically a tree, expect it to reach impressing heights. Outdoors, Caryota Mitis can grow up to 6 m tall, but indoors it will likely reach a top height of 2-2,5 m.

Fishtail Palm
Fishtail Palm Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Caryota Mitis”

It needs a lot of bright, indirect light and regular watering. It needs soil with good drainage, as it is susceptible to root rot. Pruning is not necessary unless you want to control the plant’s growth. Cutting off new fronds will stop all types of growth. To mimic its native environment, try to keep your indoor humidity level around 50%. If your humidity keeps dropping, use a cool-mist humidifier.

6. Chamaedora Elegans

Commonly known as the Parlor Palm, this is by far one of the most popular and most elegant palm trees. Its name comes from Victorian times, when this plant gained huge popularity, being found in practically any parlour. Nowadays, it is one of the cheapest available palm trees and one of the hardiest house plants. It thrives in any indoor environment, even in cold and drafty office spaces. It features 20 cm long fronds with a dainty texture.

Parlor Palm
Parlor Palm Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Chamaedorea Elegans”

The Parlor Palm prefers moderate sunlight. As for its watering needs, you are better off forgetting to water it than over-watering it. As a rule of thumb, allow the top 3 cm of the soil to dry before watering it. Fertilizing is necessary because there are usually several plants in a single pot and there is also a struggle for nutrients. Feed it once every couple of months and keep the temperature around 23 °C.

7. Schefflera Amate

Also known as the Australian Umbrella Tree or the Pom Umbrella., this plant grows on the undersides of the Australian Rainforests. In Its native environment, this evergreen tree can grow up to 14 meters tall, but it won’t grow taller than 3 meters indoors. This tree is very popular due to its enchanting foliage, featuring glossy-green, elliptical, leathery leaves.

This plant has adapted well to indoor environments and it is considered a very low maintenance plant. It is even suitable for office spaces.

Schefflera Amate
Schefflera Amate

Umbrella Trees prefer medium to bright indirect light and they like their soil to dry out between waterings, so you shouldn’t water them more often than once every 10 days. To ensure that your plant grows equally on all sides, rotate its position periodically. Moreover, dust the leaves regularly, so that the plant can photosynthesize efficiently.

8. Ficus Lyrata

This plant is also known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig. While it is not the easiest tropical plant to grow indoors, this Ficus is not very high maintenance. It is technically a tree, so it can grow quite tall in the wild, but it will maintain an average size of 2 meters indoors.

Fiddle Leaf Fig
Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig: How to Grow & Care for “Ficus Lyrata”

For starters, it needs bright, filtered light. Its soil needs to be kept moist but not soggy. For this matter, you will have to water it vigorously 2-3 times a week, but make sure not to leave any excess water in its saucer.

During the growing season, Fiddle Leaf Figs can be a little demanding. We advise you to feed yours twice a week, otherwise, it will grow extremely slow. Its roots however are very complex and they grow very fast. As such, you may need to repot it once a year.

9. Cordyline

This is a native Hawaiian plant. It features long, leathery spear-shaped leaves. This plant bears fragrant white or pink flowers that turn into berries. The flowers typically occur in the wild, but with proper care, they can also appear indoors. Indoors, Cordyline will reach a top height of 90 cm, but outdoors, it can grow twice as tall.

Cordyline Guide
Cordyline Guide: How to Plant & Care for “Cordyline Australis”

Cordyline requires bright direct light and rich, well-drained soil. It needs fertilizing in the growing season. You can use a slow-release fertilizer or a weekly liquid feed. This plant needs a good amount of humidity, so keep it away from the windows and the radiators. If you have a sunny bathroom, it will be a great environment for it. If that is not the case, invest in a cool-mist humidifier.

10. Philodendron

If you want something that takes less space than a palm but gives your home the same tropical vibe, Philodendron is your best choice. This is an over-flowing plant that is very low maintenance. Its glossy leaves will tell your exactly what it needs if you pay a little attention.

Philodendron
Complete Guide to Philodendron: How to Grow & Care for Philodendron Plants

Philodendron prefers bright indirect light. Yellow leaves are usually an indicator that the plant gets too much sunlight. On the other hand, overly long stems are an indicator that the plant does not get enough sunlight. As far as feeding goes, opt for liquid fertilizer, rich in macro-nutrients. Feed it during spring and summer, and once every two weeks in fall and winter.

In Conclusion

Tropical plants are all about luscious green foliage and very few demands. The exotic plants presented above have already been accustomed to indoor environments. They are not very difficult to grow and care for, but you might have to feed them regularly if you want them to grow fast and to thrive. Once you get used to growing tropical plants, your home will quickly turn into an exotic oasis of relaxation.

What are your favourite tropical plants? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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