Soon, the bright scenes on open patios will give way to cozier settings indoors, making it easy to feel nostalgic for warm weather before it even completely disappears. If that mood is familiar, there’s one easy way to give your home the ambiance of an endless summer: tropical plants.
“They’ve adapted to thrive in a hot, humid climate,” says Erin Marino, director of brand marketing at The Sill, which helps you channel that warm-weather vibe, even when it's Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Plus, there's something for every style—and level of commitment you're looking for: “From low-light understory plants, to bright-light canopy plants, the term ‘tropical plant’ is a broad one.”
What You Should Know Before Buying a Tropical Plant
When Marino refers to a “tropical plant,” she’s referencing those that grow naturally in environments, like a rainforest. In that setting, a tall tree canopy often shades much of the humid rainforest floor, making ground-level plants compete for sunlight and space. And because of those conditions, Erin notes, “many tropical plants tend to have big, broad leaves.” They need those massive leaves to feed themselves via photosynthesis, but in your home, there isn't the same level of competition, so your plants will likely be smaller overall.
That doesn't mean your plant won't thrive in your home. Most of the plants that are grown indoors these days are considered “tropical,” Erin adds, and they’ve grown accustomed to controlled climates after generations of indoor gardens. “Probably the biggest hurdle when bringing a tropical plant inside is humidity, but the most common tropical plants can tolerate normal humidity levels by now,” she continues. “For those that could use a little extra moisture, you can group them together, add a humidifier, or put a pebble tray and some water under your planter.”
The 5 Best Tropical Plants You Can Grow Indoors
“The heart-leaf philodendron is a quick-growing and easy-to-care-for trailing plant,” Erin says. “It can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, from bright and indirect, to low and indirect, but generally prefers medium to indirect light.”
When it comes to watering a philodendron, Erin says that the frequency is reliant on how much light the plant receives. Usually, you should water a philodendron every one to two weeks. You’ll know that you’re overwatering this plant if its leaves begin to droop.
“Philodendrons can also benefit from the occasional pruning, which can help them become slightly bushier,” she notes. “And as an added bonus, pruned-off stems with nodes can be easily propagated in water.”
“The monstera is known for its broad, bright green leaves with natural leaf holes,” she says. “As a wide and wild grower, it can give any interior space jungle vibes.”
Place a monstera in bright and indirect light, or medium and indirect light, but keep it away from direct rays. As with the philodendron, a watering routine will depend on the type of sunlight a monstera receives, but it’s safe to assume that a once or bi-weekly schedule will do just fine.
“Allow your potting mix to dry out between waterings to avoid overwatering your plant,” Erin adds. “Monsteras don't mind the occasional pruning, and if you prune off any leaves with larger nodes or aerial roots, you could give propagating them in water a try, too.”
“Arguably Instagram-famous, the pilea peperomioides once grew like a weed in Southern China,” Erin notes. “Now it’s mostly found as a houseplant. People are drawn to its fun, coin-shaped leaves and its quirky, upright growth.”
Keep a pilea pot in bright and indirect light for best results, but if that isn’t available, then it can also do well in bright-to-medium indirect light. Once again, a watering schedule of every one to two weeks is ideal—but check to make sure that the soil is dry before giving this plant more to drink.
“It's also been called the 'friendship plant', probably because it gives off a bunch of little pups in its surrounding soil that you could pot and give to a friend,” Erin says.
Bird of Paradise
“These regal plants are named for the beautiful, cranelike flowers that they produce,” Erin says. “They could flower indoors, although it's unlikely. That's okay though: Its giant, vibrant green leaves are a showstopper in any interior.”
Birds of paradise thrive when in bright and direct light or bright and indirect light, and can handle weekly waterings when its soil has dried. It’s also a good idea to pick this plant if you live in a humid area, since it likes these conditions the most. Erin says that it’s possible to see this plant bloom if all of these details are in place.
Erin also doesn’t want owners to worry if the leaves split over time. “It helps the plant survive strong winds in its natural habitat,” she adds.
“Cultivated since the Victorian era, this species is prized for its resilience to indoor conditions,” Erin says. “Also, it’s pet-friendly.”
The parlor palm does best in medium to indirect light, and despite its looks, prefers not to be in direct sun. Water it weekly, and make sure that the water flows down into the pot. Erin also notes that this plant is known for its impressive growth, and can reach heights of six feet tall indoors. So, prepare to re-pot this option about once a year.
“Although in the same family as coconuts and dates, which produce edible fruit from flowers at the top of the plant, this plant produces inedible fruit from flowers at the base of the plant,” she says.
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