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Twelve Tropical Plants Indoors

The Best Tropical Plants for the Home


Your guide to the twelve best tropical plants to grow indoors.

1. Amazon Elephant's Ear

Photo © Jon VanZile
These great plants are common, but distinctive and almost regal. Large, arrow-shaped green leaves are ribbed with silver. They are much easier to grow inside than most Alocasia species and provide seasonal displays of wonderful foliage.

2. Anthurium

Photo © Jon VanZile
Anthurium are a classy tropical that are highly prized for their stately, bright flowers. There are lots of anthurium cultivars out there, and while they are challenging, these are highly rewarding plants.

3. Bird of Paradise

Photo © Jon VanZile
The Bird of Paradise is one of the most tropical flowers in the world, with an almost gaudy array of blue and orange plumage. Fortunately, they're also surprisingly easy to grow indoors.

4. Bromeliads

Photo © Excelsa Gardens
I think bromeliads are probably the easiest of all tropical plants to grow. These tropical epiphytes are easily adapted to growing in pots, and they're much more tolerant than many of their lush-leaved colleagues.

5. Cordyline

Photo © Jon VanZile
Ask anyone who's been to Hawaii: cordyline are virtually synonymous with the tropics. These bold and colorful foliage plants are available in a wide array of leaf colors, and with proper care, can provide a bold accent.

6. Dumb Cane

Photo © Jon VanZile
Dumb cane (dieffenbachia) are almost ubiquitous as houseplants, so it's easy to forget they're also a true tropical foliage plant. Watch out for the sap on these plants—it can be caustic.

7. Ficus

Photo © Jon VanZile
Ficus are fussy, yes, but a well-grown ficus is near the pinnacle of houseplants. Large, glossy and imposing, ficus are well worth the effort.

8. Palms

Photo © Tropical Decor Plants
But of course ... palm trees are the enduring symbol of everything tropical, and here is a selection of palms that are easy to grow indoors.

9. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Photo © Jon VanZile
I love peace lilies, especially when they're massed and in bloom. Personally, I don't think they're as hard as they look, and even if they are a bit of a challenge to overwinter, it's still well worth the effort.

10. Philodendron

Photo © Tropical Decor Plants
What self-respecting list of tropical plants could overlook philodendron? Recent advances in breeding have made it easier than ever to grow these as normal, non-trailing houseplants. Try it. You'll see.

11. Schefflera

Photo © Tropical Decor Plants
Sometimes called umbrella plants, schefflera leaves are broad, glossy and abundant. Use them as background plants, or use a big one in a bright, warm corner for a nice canopy effect.

12. Orchids

Photo © Kerry Michaels
It's actually kind of funny, because orchids are the most varied of all plant groups—they range all over the world, from deserts to woodlands to tropical forests. But the orchids most people love are the tropical and subtropical ones, and what says "tropics" more than a flowering orchid?
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