12 Tropical Plants for Growing Indoors

Close-Up Of Potted Bromeliad
Marius Hepp / EyeEm / Getty Images

Tropical houseplants can bring color and exotic 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. These 12 tropical plants can be grown indoors to bring a bit of the jungle or rainforest into your living room, bath, or bedroom.

Tip

All of the tropical plants in this list can be grown inside in any climate, but many can also be overwintered indoors in cooler climates and then brought outdoors in the summer.

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  • 01 of 12

    Amazon Elephant's Ear (Alocasia amazonica)

    Amazon elephant's ear

     

    tc397 / Getty Images

    Amazon 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. This plant originated in southeast Asia.

    • Light: Filtered sun or shade
    • Water: Keep moist but avoid wet roots

    Warning

    Elephant's ear is poisonous, so use caution with children and pets.

  • 02 of 12

    Anthurium (Anthurium)

    Anthurium Growing Outdoors
    Keren Sequeira / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Anthurium is a classy tropical that is highly prized for its stately, bright flowers. There are lots of anthurium cultivars out there, and while they are challenging, these are highly rewarding plants. Plant them in rich, loose potting soil and be sure your Anthurium's 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
    • Water: Keep moist
    • Color varieties: Red, white, pink, orange, and variegated leaves
  • 03 of 12

    Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

    Bird of Paradise Blossom
    Richard A. Cooke / Getty Images

    Bird of paradise is one of the most tropical flowers in the world, with large, distinctive, almost gaudy flowers. Fortunately, they are also surprisingly easy to grow indoors. While it is a vigorous, rapidly growing indoor plant, it should be fertilized weekly and kept pot-bound. Birds of paradise can grow up to 6 feet tall and need 3 to 5 years of growth before they flower.

    • Light: Bright light with some direct sun
    • Water: Keep moist
    • Color varieties: Blue and orange
  • 04 of 12

    Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)

    Close-Up Of Potted Bromeliad
    Marius Hepp / EyeEm / Getty Images

    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 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.

    • Light: Bright, indirect light
    • Water: Water weekly but avoid standing water
    • Color varieties: Red, green, purple, orange, yellow, banded, stripes, spots or other combinations
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Cordyline (C. terminalis)

    Cordyling plant

    Thomas Tolkien  / Wikimedia Commons 

    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, and with proper care, can provide a dramatic accent. They are related to the ti plant. 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.

    • Light: Bright, indirect light
    • Water: Keep continually moist except in winter
    • Color varieties: Green, red, yellow, white, purple, and purplish-red
  • 06 of 12

    Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

    Dieffenbachia dumb cane plant
    Dennis McColeman / Getty Images

    Dumb cane is almost ubiquitous as a houseplant, so it is easy to forget it is also a true tropical foliage plant. To grow this popular plant, use a fast-draining potting mix and fertilize with a 20-20-20 mix. Be sure its location is warm (over 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and draft-free.

    • Light: Bright light in winter; dappled shade or indirect light during growing months
    • Water: Water twice a week; cut down in winter
    • Color varieties: Green and white

    Warning

    Watch out for the sap on these plants—it can be caustic. Wear gloves when handling this plant.

  • 07 of 12

    Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

    Ficus plant

     

    AlxeyPnferov / Getty Images

    Ficus are fussy, yes, 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. Ficus are also prey to pests such as mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and aphids.

    • Light: Filtered bright sun
    • Water: Water twice a week; cut down in winter; mist often
    • Color varieties: Small yellow or white blossoms
  • 08 of 12

    Kentia Palm (Howeia)

    Palm tree indoors next to couch
    Daniel Sambraus / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Palm trees are the enduring symbol of everything tropical, and there is a selection of palms that are easy to grow indoors. You can enjoy them in your entryway or the corner of a sunny room and be taken back to your tropical vacation. You are in good company, too—Queen Victoria made sure that kentia palms were used in her many residences. Plant your palm in fast-draining potting mix, fertilize monthly, and keep your plant warm (above 55 degrees Fahrenheit).

    • Light: Filtered bright sun
    • Water: Water weekly in summer, letting the soil dry between waterings
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

    Peace lily

     

    Akiz / Getty Images

    Peace lilies are lovely, especially when massed and in bloom. This plant is not as hard to grow and maintain as they look, and the blooms 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 your peace lilies above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Light: Medium, indirect light
    • Water: Water and mist frequently in summer; cut back in winter
    • Color varieties: White or yellow

    Warning

    Peace lilies are toxic and should not be grown around pets or children.

  • 10 of 12

    Philodendron (philodendron)

    Heart Leaf Philodendron

     moxumbic / Getty Images

    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.

    • Light: Medium, indirect light
    • Water: Water and mist frequently in summer; cut back in winter
  • 11 of 12

    Schefflera (Schefflera)

    Schefflera pueckleri foliage
    DEA / C. SAPPA / Getty Images

    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. Light, warmth, and humidity are the keys to successfully growing Schefflera. Plant in rich, loose potting media with moist compost, and fertilize twice a month.

    • Light: Bright indirect light
    • Water: Water and mist weekly in summer; cut back in winter
    • Color varieties: White, pink, or red
  • 12 of 12

    Orchids (Orchidaceae)

    Orchid Festival At Kew Gardens
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images

    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. Avoid dry air, direct heat or drafts, and direct sunlight. Instead, provide a warm humid environment.

    • Light: Bright indirect light
    • Water: Water rarely unless the plant is hanging
    • Color varieties: White, yellow, pink, purple, red, variegated