Tropical House Plants

In a high-tech world, splashy and bold tropical house plants put us in touch with nature in a big way.

Are they difficult to grow?

Not really. Most common house plants originated in tropical or subtropical regions, growing under the canopies of tall trees, which makes them well-suited to living under the shade of a roof.

And because tropical climates never dip below freezing temperatures, tropical house plants can thrive in our warm homes year-round. One thing indoor tropical plants likely won't have in our homes is high humidity -- but we can add that.

croton, joseph's coat, codiaeum variegatum

Under the Tropic Sun

Brightly colored Croton Plants thrive beautifully in their native habitats of Malaysia, the Pacific Islands and Northern Australia. Provide the same bright light and high humidity and you'll make them feel right at home.

Like many rain forest plants, crotons have slick, shiny leaves.

Why? Tropical rain forests are wet. Really wet. Many regions average 100 inches of rain a year (some A LOT more!) and along with it, humidity levels around 80%.

During the rainy season, tropical rainforest plants often get more moisture than they need, so their leaves have slick coatings to easily shrug off the rain.

dieffenbachia, dumb cane, tropical house plants

Broad leaves, handsomely marbled with green and white, have made Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia maculata 'Tropic Snow', pictured here) a favorite house plant for decades.

It's so familiar in our homes, that it's difficult to imagine it growing wild in Brazil.

Despite its tropical beginnings, Dumb Cane adapts well to average humidity and moderate light. Its low-maintenance lifestyle and boldly patterned leaves make it easy to live with.

bromeliads, guzmania lingulata, tropical house plants

Yes, Bromeliads DO Grow on Trees

In the wild, you'll find bromeliad plants growing in the Central and South American rain forests where they make their homes on tree branches.

Bromes grow in a rosette of stiff, upright leaves, forming a cup that serves as a reservoir to hold rainwater. One of the most popular of the species is Scarlet Star (Guzmania lingulata, pictured here). Because it's less demanding of high humidity than other bromeliads, it is easy to grow indoors.

They're just one of many epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) that don't have roots on the ground. Some types of ferns also grow as epiphytes, nestled high in trees in tropical Asia and South America.

bird of paradise

A (not so) Rare Bird

Not many tropical flower bouquets are without a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) in all its splendor.

It's slow-growing and can take a few years to bloom. When not in bloom, its large, leathery leaves look like a banana plant.

Because of its need for high humidity and sunshine, this tropical beauty is not easy to please in most homes and grows best in a greenhouse. Discover more types of tropical flowers here.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity...

Forty percent humidity is considered "average" in most homes. Fortunately, that's a comfortable level for people and most house plants.

However, many tropical house plants grow best with sixty to seventy percent humidity.

Short of turning a room into a misty rain forest, there are a few things you can do for your plants. Check out these easy tips for raising the humidity for your house plants.

More to Explore

Discover the many types of Bromeliads you can grow indoors. This family includes captivating tropical flowers... and they're easy to grow.

Explore these rare tropical flowers. They're some of the showiest blooms you'll ever grow as house plants...if you can find them.