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. We will also give you some tips for growing exotic plants and we will give you a list of the best tropical plants to grow indoors.
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Top 20 best tropical plants to grow indoors
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.
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.
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.
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 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 color. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
11. Orchid (Phalaenopsis Spp.)
A must-have in every plant collection, the Orchid (Phalaenopsis Spp.) will mesmerize you with its wide variety of unique flower colours. Many beginner gardeners are intimidated by the exotic appearance of Orchids, but these buddies are not as difficult to have around as people think. Besides their ornamental value, Orchids make perfect tropical houseplants that come along with an easy-going nature overall as long as you know how to meet their few, but important needs.
Before you start growing orchids, it is very important to know that these plants are epiphytes, meaning that they do not usually grow directly in soil but on the branches of nearby trees. This explains the fact store-bought plants have their containers filled not with soil, but with orchid bark. Interestingly enough, orchids are able to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air through their roots. As a result, these plants will be the happiest in a growing medium that mimics the one from its natural habitat.
The trick for a thriving Orchid is a pot designed specifically for Orchids and a suitable potting mix which should include chunks of bark or lava rocks. In terms of demands, Orchids will perform nicely with generous showers every now and then, lots of bright, indirect light, and a mild, warm, and somewhat humid environment.
You can learn more about growing these tropical ornamentals from our Complete Guide to Growing Orchids. If should also check out our other articles about Orchids: Best Orchid Pot Review and Best Types of Orchids to Grow Indoors.
12. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
Golden pothos is, without a doubt, one of the friendliest houseplants you can have around. This tropical plant is so friendly and undemanding that most gardeners often forget about it, making it a great choice if you are a beginner grower or busy in general. And, with minimal effort, you can win an excellent air purifying plant that will stay by your side for a very long time.
An important thing to remember about Golden pothos is the fact that it is a vine that can reach up to 10 feet (3 m) in length. Its heart-shaped leaves show up with a glamorous color mix of green and golden yellow. This spectacular plant is perfect for hanging baskets or pots placed at a height that allows it to cascade its lovely variegated foliage.
The most irresistible feature of the Golden pothos is that it can survive moderate drought and it will also forgive your absence whenever you are on holiday. The only thing you should pay attention to is direct light, as it cannot withstand it very well. Make sure you provide this beauty with bright to low indirect light, and a good quality potting mix that comes with very sharp drainage.
13. Croton ‘Mammi’ a.k.a. Rainbow Croton
Rainbow croton is yet another tropical houseplant that is super easy to grow and care for even if you do not have any prior experience in the gardening world. Although you might be familiar with the popular Croton plants, this cultivar is more gorgeous through its unique foliage.
Its long, waxy, and shiny leaves feature hypnotic colour mixes and even wave a bit at the sides, forming an eye-catching overall view that you cannot possibly resist. The colourful foliage of this plant is guilty of the “rainbow” part of its common name. Just one glance at the Rainbow croton is more than enough to give you an almost hallucinatory experience!
Rainbow croton will have the time of its life in plenty of bright and indirect sunlight. In general, direct light will make the colour of its foliage fade, while low light will result in darker leaves. The ideal potting mix for this tropical plant is compost-based, well-draining soil that contains lots of organic matter. When it comes to watering, all you need to do is water its soil only when the top half of it has dried up.
14. Baby Rubber plant (Peperomia Obtusifolia)
The baby rubber plant is an adorable houseplant that can fit wherever you want to put it. This fellow will look cute on a desk, bookshelf, window sill, coffee table, and many other dull spots that require a breath of fresh air. It also produces spikes of white flowers, enriching its ornamental value from spring through autumn.
Baby rubber plant grows only up to one foot (30 cm) in height and has a spread of about 2 feet (60 cm). Its small, elegant leaves look and feel like rubber, hence its playful common name. It is safe to say that the foliage of the Baby rubber plant comes along with the deepest emerald green shade you can find in nature. Plus, there are some varieties of this species that have a more fresh look through variegated leaves. You might satisfy your curiosity and also look for those!
In case you already love this plant, wait to see how low-demanding it can be! Baby rubber plant needs light watering only when their growing medium has dried out entirely. These friendly desk companions require dense, organically rich, and well-draining potting soil. Light-wise, these plants will do just fine in bright, but indirect-lit spots. To learn more about growing and caring for these low-maintenance ornamentals, read our complete guide to Peperomia Obtusifolia.
15. Butterfly Plant (Christia Obcordata)
If you are a big admirer of both plants and butterflies, we have the perfect houseplant to add to your plant family next. The Butterfly plant is a peculiar-looking, but stunning ornamental species that shows up with leaves looking like – you have guessed it right – butterflies. It is not a well-known tropical houseplant, which makes it even better to turn in one of your favorites, as it can guarantee you are among the edgiest growers out there!
The Butterfly plant, with its delicate and unusual appearance, looks best in small clumps and even mixed with other tropical plants from your house. Its leaves have a generous colour palette: the base leaf colour is bright green and sometimes blue, mixing beautifully with shades of red, purple, or brown stripes that run from the central rib to the margins. This plant blooms from spring to fall, bringing out many small, pink magenta and white flowers in the landscape.
The Butterfly plant is pretty adaptable to various light levels but indoors will do nicely in indirect light. It can grow well in any regular potting mix as long as it has some drainage. In terms of watering, you will have to wait for the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out in-between drinks.
16. Red Coral (Rhipsalis Ramulosa)
Red coral is one of those tropical plants that have all it takes to win most gardeners’ hearts with little to no effort. This plant is a trailing ornamental beauty that features long, ombre leaves that appear in mixes of green and red to purple leaves. They emerge on arching stems that will look luxurious if you plant this in a hanging basket.
And as if the foliage was not already enough, Red coral bewitches us with numerous attractive hanging necklaces of white flowers. This rarely happens when you grow it in an indoor setting. But who knows? You might be one of the luckiest growers out there if it does!
This species is succulent, meaning that you will not need to give it constant attention to grow healthy and happy. Its exotic style will remain in shape as long as it receives a well-draining cactus potting mix, very bright, but indirect light, and warmish temperatures. It is also super tolerant of drought, requiring water only when its soil is completely dry to the touch.
17. Silver Vase Bromeliad (Aechmea Fasciata)
Here we have a tropical plant that will surely give any boring corner a nice twist! Silver vase bromeliad is an exquisite ornamental plant that comes along with surprising features. At first glance, you might be tempted to think that the colorful, eye-appealing centre is a flower. Well, this could not be much further from the truth!
Silver vase bromeliad has the typical cactusy, horizontal-striped, and greyish-green leaves that form a beautiful rosette. Inside this rosette, the focal point consists of spiny leaves that can exhibit different shades of pink. But this does not mean that the Silver vase bromeliad does not bloom at all! Its violet-blue flowers are slightly insignificant and show up on the modified leaves of the central rosette.
Silver vase bromeliad is as easy-to-grow as it can be. All you have to do is place this plant near a west or east-facing window to make sure it gets as much bright light as it can. It does best in a potting mix that contains equal parts of peat moss, coarse sand, and leaf mould. Watering-wise, Silver vase bromeliad will benefit from regular drinks once the soil dries out.
Aechmeas are truly fascinating plants and if you want to learn more about them, do not hesitate to read our complete guide to Bromeliads.
18. Living Stone (Lithops Spp.)
If succulents are among your top picks and your Instagram feed is filled with these adorable plants, you must take a look at these cute Living stones. Lithops, also known as the living stone succulent is very small and lovable, making you want to squeeze it whenever you cross paths with it like there is no tomorrow.
What makes the Living stone one of our go-to houseplants is its versatility and the many varieties it enchants us with. This succulent has hundreds of cultivars, coming in various shades and colour combinations. In other words, there are few chances for you to not find one that suits your preferences!
Living stone usually contains two fat, bean-shaped leaves that resemble – surprise – stones. It is a flowering succulent that can bloom once every year, bearing bright-coloured flowers that look very similar to Wax daisies. Some Living stone varieties produce blossoms that are much bigger than the plants themselves.
Luckily, you can keep this tropical succulent alive with minimal effort. Lots of bright, indirect light and a well-draining cactus potting mix should do the job nicely. It is also a super drought-tolerant plant that can go for months without water.
Learn how to be a perfect succulent grower by reading our Complete Guide to Lithops.
19. Yucca (Yucca Spp.)
A very popular tropical houseplant, Yucca is a perfect statement plant when you want to fill a dull corner. It also makes a perfect gift for a plant-loving friend. If you are a pet owner, however, you might want to think twice before buying it. All parts of this plant are toxic to both cats and dogs, so you should place it where they cannot reach it when you are not paying attention.
At first, Yucca has lots of bright green foliage. With time, once it grows taller, this plant will typically lose its lower leaves. This habit is the one that gives Yucca that well-known spectacular tree-like appearance.
Depending on your dream home, you can opt for a Yucca that grows at impressive heights or settle for a dwarf species. No matter the choice, the growing and environmental demands remain the same.
Under the right conditions, Yucca is more than a friendly and easy plant to grow and care for. The ideal indoor spot for this plant is none other than a bright corner with relatively low humidity levels. Since Yucca is highly sensitive to over-watering, you will want to opt for a suitable watering routine. During the spring and summer months, we suggest you water your Yucca once every week. When winter comes, decrease the watering frequency to once every few weeks or even less.
Read our complete guide to Yucca to ensure that you know all about growing and caring for this perfect houseplant!
20. Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica)
The money tree isn’t just a perfect choice for tropical indoor plant collections but also comes with cultural importance. In some cultures, people believe that having this plant in your house can bring you good financial fortune. Thanks to this interesting purpose, it is a popular plant in feng shui.
You are most likely to find a Money tree in garden shops having its several stems braided into one trunk. At the top of the eye-catching false trunk, a spray of palm-shaped leaves makes its appearance, providing a superb overall picture. The coolest part of growing a Money tree as a bonsai is that it will keep its size at minimum levels, which suits the indoor landscape uses best.
The secret key to owning a thriving Money tree indoors is to spoil it with the right amount of light and water. It would be wise to place this plant in a location where it can receive at least six hours of bright to medium indirect light each day. If you cannot do this with natural sunlight, you can always use fluorescent light and expect the same result. Water-wise, the good news is that it is pretty hard to over-water a Money tree. You can water yours when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch and you’re all set.
Learn how to grow and care for this fortune plant by reading our complete guide to Pachira Aquatica!
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.
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.
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 color 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.
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.
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 favorite tropical plants? Share your thoughts in the comments below!