12 Tropical Plants You Can Grow Indoors

an orchid plant on a side table

The Spruce / Alonda Baird

Tropical plants can bring color and flair to your home even if you live in a colder climate. While some tropical houseplants are best known for their eye-popping flowers, others are loved for their large, unusually patterned or variegated leaves. Tropical plants are not always as difficult to grow as they appear while others are a bit fussy until they are happy with their level of humidity, light, and moisture. Most tropical plants need to grow with an indoor humidity level between 50 to 60 percent. But if you don't have that type of humidity in your home, you can always place a tropical plant in your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen where there's usually a natural level of humidity. Read on to learn about the following popular tropical plants to grow indoors.


The tropical plants in this list can be grown indoors in any climate. Many of them can also be overwintered indoors in cooler climates and then brought outdoors in the summer.

  • 01 of 12

    Amazonian Elephant's Ear (Alocasia x amazonica)

    Amazon Elephant's Ear (African Mask) plant

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Amazonian elephant's ear is 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. They prefer rich, fast-draining potting soil and do require regular feeding. Keep moist but avoid wet roots. This plant originated in southeast Asia.

    • Light: Part shade or filtered sun
    • Mature Size: 1–2 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance


    Elephant's ear is toxic, so practice caution around children and pets.

  • 02 of 12

    Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum)

    vase of anthurium flowers

    The Spruce

    Anthurium andraeanum is a tropical plant that is highly prized for its stately, bright red flower and yellow spadix. Many anthurium cultivars are available, and while they are challenging to grow, they are highly rewarding plants. Plant them in rich, loose potting soil, keep moist, but be sure the roots are not too moist. If you are looking specifically for plants with pink flowers or leaves, consider adding a Mexican shrimp plant to your collection.

    • Light: Bright indirect light, avoid full sun
    • Mature Size: 12-18 in. tall, 9-12 in. wide
    • Difficulty: Expert
  • 03 of 12

    Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

    Bird of Paradise

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Bird of paradise is one of the most tropical flowers in the world with large, distinctive blue or orange flowers that some say resembles a bird's head and beak. They are also surprisingly easy to grow indoors. While it is a vigorous, rapidly growing indoor plant, it should be kept moist, fertilized weekly, and kept pot-bound. Birds of paradise need three to five years of growth before they flower.

    • Light: Bright light with some direct sun
    • Mature Size: 3.5-6 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance
  • 04 of 12

    Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)

    closeup of a bromeliad

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Bromeliads are probably the easiest of all tropical plants to grow. These tropical epiphytes (air plants) are easily adapted to growing in pots, and they are much more tolerant than many of their lush-leaved colleagues. They come in a wide array of colors, including red, green, purple, orange, yellow, and with combinations of patterns and textures. Bromeliads can be grown in fast-draining potting soil consisting of peat-based soil and sand. Bromeliads can also be grown mounted to boards or logs and hung on the wall. Water weekly but avoid standing water.

    • Light: Bright, indirect light
    • Mature Size: Varies by genera and species
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Cordyline (C. terminalis)

    cordyline plant by a window

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Ask anyone who has been to Hawaii—cordyline is virtually synonymous with the tropics. These bold and colorful foliage plants are available in a wide array of leaf colors, from green, red, and purple to yellow and white. With proper care, the plant can provide a dramatic accent. It is also known as the Ti tree or Hawaiian Ti tree. Cordyline needs a warm, draft-free location, rich, well-drained high-quality potting mix with a pH of 6 to 6.5, and weekly feeding. Keep it continually moist except in winter. Note that this plant is toxic to dogs and cats.

    • Light: Bright, indirect light
    • Mature Size: 3-6 ft. tall and wide
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance
  • 06 of 12

    Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia seguine)

    dumb cane plant

    The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

    Dumb cane is ubiquitous as a houseplant, so it is easy to forget it is also a true tropical foliage plant. To grow this popular plant with its large green and white leaves, use a fast-draining potting mix and fertilize with a 20-20-20 mix. Locate it in a warm (over 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and draft-free location. Water twice a week, and reduce water in the winter. It is highly toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.

    • Light: Bright light in winter; dappled shade or indirect light during growing months
    • Mature Size: 3–10 ft. tall, 2–3 ft. wide
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance


    The sap on this plant can be caustic so wear gloves when handling it.

  • 07 of 12

    Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

    ficus benjamina

    The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

    Ficus plants are fussy, but a well-grown ficus is near the pinnacle of houseplants. Large, glossy, and imposing, ficus plants are well worth the effort. Ficus plants drop their leaves in drafty, cold conditions, and they don't like to be moved. In fact, they absolutely require adequate light, warmth, and humidity. Do not overwater. Water regularly during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce water in fall through late winter. Though rare, you may find small yellow or white blossoms. The ficus tree's sap is toxic to humans and pets. Watch for pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and aphids.

    • Light: Bright indirect light
    • Mature Size: 6 ft. high, 3 ft. wide
    • Difficulty: Needy
  • 08 of 12

    Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)

    kentia palm in a home

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Palm trees are the enduring symbol of everything tropical, and many palms are easy to grow indoors. You can enjoy them in an entryway or in the corner of a sunny room and be transported back to your tropical vacation. You are in good company, too—Queen Victoria made sure that Kentia palms were used throughout her many residences. Plant your palm in fast-draining potting mix, fertilize monthly, and keep your plant warm (above 55 degrees Fahrenheit). Water weekly in summer letting the soil dry between waterings.

    • Light: Filtered bright sun
    • Mature Size: 10 feet (indoors)
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

    Peace lily

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Peace lilies are lovely, especially when massed and in bloom, though rare to see this white flower peek out of its hood. This plant is considered easy to grow, though not always, and the blooms, though very rare, last for months. Even if they are a bit of a challenge to overwinter, it is still well worth the effort. Avoid direct sunlight and keep the temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenly moist soil and mist frequently in summer; reduce water in winter.

    • Light: Medium, indirect light
    • Mature Size: 1–4 ft. tall, 1–4 ft. wide (indoors)
    • Difficulty: Needy at times


    Peace lilies are toxic so practice caution around pets and children.

  • 10 of 12

    Philodendron (philodendron)

    Philodendron gloriosum plant with large heart-shaped leaves in black pot

    The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

    For indoor use, there are climbing varieties and the self-heading (non-climbing) types of philodendrons. Newer hybrids have been bred that mix the vigor and ease of the climbing varieties with the convenience of the self-heading varieties. It is easier than ever to grow them. Water and mist frequently in summer; reduce water in winter.

    • Light: Medium, indirect light
    • Mature Size: 1–20 ft. tall, 1–6 ft. wide
    • Difficulty: Low-maintenance
  • 11 of 12

    Schefflera ( Schefflera arboricola)

    schefflera plant

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Sometimes called the umbrella plant, Schefflera leaves are broad, glossy, and abundant. Use them as background plants or place a large one in a bright, warm corner for a nice canopy effect. Light, warmth, and humidity are the keys to successfully growing Schefflera. Though very rare to do so indoors, it may bloom with a red/burgundy flower. Plant them in rich, loose potting media with moist compost, and fertilize regularly. Water and mist weekly in summer; reduce water in winter.

    • Light: Bright indirect light
    • Mature Size: 4-6 ft. tall, 3-6 ft. wide (indoors)
    • Difficulty: Needy
  • 12 of 12

    Orchids (Orchidaceae)

    an orchid

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Orchids are the most varied of all plant groups—they come from all over the world from deserts to woodlands to tropical forests, but the orchids most people love are from tropical and subtropical climates. A flowering orchid is the quintessential tropical plant with its color varieites of white, yellow, pink, purple, red, orange, and variegated. Avoid dry air, direct heat or drafts, and direct sunlight. Instead, provide a warm humid environment. In general, once per week; allow to dry between waterings; do not overwater

    • Light: Bright, indirect light
    • Mature Size: 1–3 ft. tall, 6–12 in. wide
    • Difficulty: Needy at times
  • What is the easiest tropical plant to grow?

    Though they may not look like it, bromeliads are considered the easiest tropical plant to grow indoors.

  • Do tropical plants need direct sunlight?

    Most indoor tropical plants need bright and indirect sunlight to thrive.

  • How often do you water a tropical plant?

    Though it will depend on the plant, the general rule of thumb is to water a tropical plant once a week in the warm months and a couple of times a month during the winter.

  • Where should I buy tropical plants?

    You can find tropical plants online or at your local nursery. Look for a seller specializing in tropical plants and one that unconditionally guarantees all tropical plants for a year. But you don't need to limit yourself to specialty retailers since many plant sellers will offer quality tropical plants.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Elephant ear poisoning. University of Florida Health.

  2. Ti-plant. ASPCA.

  3. Dieffenbachia sequine. North Carolina State Extension.

  4. Dieffenbachia seguine. North Carolina State University Extension.

  5. Weeping Fig. The University of Kansas Health System.

  6. Fig. ASPCA.

  7. Ficus benjamina. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  8. Spathiphyllum (Mauna Loa Peace Lily). North Carolina State University Extension.