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Few things bring more life to our home’s interiors than plants, and using tropical plants indoors creates your own little paradise. For us gardeners, it’s an opportunity to grow plants we might otherwise not be able to grow in our regions. Tropical plants are pretty easy to grow indoors, and just require attention to a few details to make sure they do well. Here are some popular tropical plants to grow indoors, and the little tricks to make sure you are successful with them. Remember if you have kids or pets to always check with your poison control to see if the plants you wish to use in your home are toxic.

Palms

There are many types of palms available as house plants, but most of them require the same basic care.

1. Palms generally like warm air. Keep palms away from cold drafts, air vents, or open doors.

2. Palms like to be moist, but most don’t like to sit in water. Make sure that you have a good drainage pan under your palm, and empty any excess about a half hour after watering. If you notice brown tips to the fronds, improve your drainage. Some palms like to be sprayed with a mister for humidity, and others, especially fan palms, prefer drier conditions. Check your specific type of palm.

3. Don’t overwater. This kills more palms than any other thing. Water when the soil is dry a half inch down.

4. Light, light, light! While palms will tolerate some low light, it’s not ideal and it will not help them grow into a healthy looking plant. Give them the brightest light you can provide. Palms with tender, transparent fronds will appreciate being shielded from direct sun.

Kentia Palm

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Bird of Paradise

Birds of Paradise (Giant or White) may be the most dramatic tropical plant  you can grow indoors! Luckily, given the right conditions, they aren’t hard to grow. Here are the basics…

1. Light, light, light! Are you sensing a theme here? Bright light is the secret to this beautiful plant doing well.

2. Space. Repot every year and make sure they have growing room, because they grow quickly. The variety grown as a house plant can easily reach a height of 6 to 7 feet. After about 4 or 5 years, a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) may flower on rare occasions. The Strelizia Nicolai or White Bird of Paradise will produce a blue/white flower. Flower production is much more frequent when a Bird of Paradise is used as an outdoor plant.

3. Water. Keep this plant moist, as it does not like to dry out.

4. Fertilize regularly.

5. Don’t chill it out. This plant does not like to get below 60 degrees, and prefers it warm.

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Philodendron (Split Leaf)

Another tropical and lush plant that can be grown indoors, the split leaf Philodendron can grow to a large plant both in height and circumference. Here’s how to grow it to it’s best.

1. Place in warm room without drafts, 5-10 feet away from a bright window. Trun a quarter turn every 4 or 5 days to keep the plant growing evenly.

2. Water when the soil is dry 1-2 inches below the surface. Water less often in winter, but never let it dry out to the point of wilting. Do not let it sit in water.

3. Mist with water every couple of days. Philodendron like high humidity.

4. Clean the leaves when necessary with a cloth dipped in warm water. Check for mites and flies often, and spray with an indoor spray if necessary.

5. Transplant every other year into a slightly larger pot.

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For those of you with a larger bathroom and a nice bright window, you have the perfect place for tropical plants to thrive!

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Tropical plants add a sense of luxury and drama to any home.

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It’s not difficult to grow tropical plants indoors, and worth the little bit of extra effort for what they offer.

Image Credits: Pflanzenfreude, Indoor Planting, Houzz, Flickr, Pinterest, Pinterest


38 Comments

  1. Enrique May 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Hello, what are the best plants to plant in an office with little light?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Philodendron are great for low light situations!

      Reply
  2. lourdes martins June 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    adorei –

    Reply
  3. Brent Benes December 27, 2014 at 6:32 am

    The Bird of Paradise actually do better when their roots are crowded. Leaving them in smaller pots will actually increase chances of flowering.

    Reply
    1. Alma April 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

      My plants’ new leaves have not open for about 2 months. Is there anything that I can do to help it open?

      Reply
      1. Kathy Woodard August 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

        Yep! First, check for bugs like aphids… If you don’t see any, try misting the leaves with water 2-3 times a day for a few weeks… Hopefully that will do it!

        Reply
  4. Daylilydiva January 30, 2015 at 10:09 am

    My bamboo palm in the living room became infested with mealybugs and I tossed it. Can someone suggest a tall – but not too wide – plants to replace the palm? It’s a very low light situation but many other plants are growing in the same area (just not tall enough to suit me.)

    Reply
  5. KAROLE MOSLEY January 30, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I have one of those split leaf plants and I have had it almost a year and no new leaves have ever come. I check the soil all the time. when I got it last year it was water logged and they told me to just watch it and not to water if it died to bring back… well, I still have it and it did lose 3 leaves back then but nothing now… what am I doing wrong.. I still have it in the same plastic pot… thanks

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard March 12, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      It could be root bound… slide it out of the pot and see if the roots are in a tight ball… if they are, you need to repot into fresh soil in a slightly larger pot… If they aren’t, try moving it to a spot with brighter light.

      Reply
    2. Laurel June 28, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Mine didn’t do much till I started moving it outdoors in the summer. It sits under a roof on the east side of my house so it get very little direct sun and no rain unless I water it. I repotted it this year and it has never looked better. The problem is finding its happy spot once I bring it in in the fall.

      Reply
  6. Jana February 11, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Hi there, lovely roundup! I hope you don’t mind me tweeting about it?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard March 12, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks Jana!

      Reply
  7. JJ February 25, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I like the kentia palm, but how tall does it grow? does it depend how big the pot is? also if it is a large plant and pot and therefore you can’t empty the tray, how do you deal with the extra water?

    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Alma April 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    What is the best fertilizer for the bird of paradise plant? The new baby leaves don’t open.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard August 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      A moderate fertilizer, with a 1:1:1 ratio of nutrients on the label is a good bet, they do not need to be over fertilized. If the leaves aren’t opening, check for bugs!

      Reply
  9. Kris April 23, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    i have a very large split leaf philodendron. It just keeps growing. I have it in a window w/south light. I water about once a week. It has lots of roots that are not in soil. How do I take care of the roots? Should I put it into another larger pot? Can I cut them off? I don’t want to kill it as it is sentimental. It is about 4 feet tall with large leaves, new growth and seems to be doing well. Also how do I trim it and/or divide it?
    Thank you for any answers. I would appreciate an email.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 21, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      I have always trimmed off the aerial roots and never had a problem with that… You can cut back the top growth tip to force a bushier plant, but I have never heard of dividing a philodendron… anyone else?

      Reply
      1. YesYes August 20, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        I love Monstera deliciosas (split-leaf philodendrons) You can divide it. A safe way to do it is wrap an aerial root with moist peat and plastic wrap, wait 3 months for new roots to form in the plastic wrap, cut it with a sharp clean knife, and pot up your new division. If you are impatient and your Monstera is in good health, you might even skip the air layering process and just cut below the aerial roots and pot that. Good luck!

        Reply
      2. SCott January 31, 2016 at 8:59 am

        I am in the process of dividing an entire SLP. The room I was using had lots of light, but it was filtered by the type of glass. So my SLP (and other plants as well) had skinny stalks to support the big leaves. I tried moving it around and ultimately decided to start propagating the entire plant. I made sharp, clean cuts below the air roots and stuck them in water in a glass vase. Changed the water once every two weeks. New roots appeared from the air root and I carefully transplanted into soil. It needs to be stable until the roots really take hold in the new pot.

        I’m about 1/3 of the way through the original plant. We’re getting new windows in that room soon, too. So hopefully I will have several plants to place around.

        Reply
  10. Jessie May 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

    My bird of paradise plant leaves are falling over. It won’t stand upright. Is there anything I can do to make it stand back up?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard June 9, 2015 at 10:53 am

      It sounds like it isn’t getting enough light. You can try repotting it just a little deeper in the pot, add a temporary support, and move it to a brighter location. Good luck!

      Reply
  11. KAPOOR June 15, 2015 at 6:16 am

    I have money-plant which has small leaves.
    How would i get bigger leaves?
    What are the precautions to be taken ?

    Thanking You.

    Rgs,

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard August 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      It sound like your plant needs more nutrients, try a half dose of liquid fertilizer every time you water. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  12. Lupe July 3, 2015 at 8:26 am

    My bird of paradise has brown spots on some leaves and some little bugs?? What can I do?

    Reply
      1. Husseinata Mane August 3, 2017 at 9:57 pm

        Hello! Beautiful plants. Where can I buy it?

        Reply
  13. Sandy Balmer September 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    2 quick items.
    1. My Corn Plant – the leaves have brown tip. I keep it moderately wet as the book I have advises. The plant also receives moderate light by a window. Help. ?

    2 my Peace Lily gas same issues.

    I have a water gauge and go with wet in the middle range.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 17, 2015 at 8:48 am

      It could be one of two things… some plants are sensitive to water that has chlorine in it… I know my spider plants are like that. Try watering them with distilled water. Also, if it is too dry (the air) that can happen, they misting 2 or 3 times day…

      Reply
  14. Claetha January 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    My split leave plant is growing ok. I keep getting brown tips and some yellow leaves. I have It for 4 years I havereported since I brought in after the summer I have this problem. Can you please help. Claretha

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard February 2, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      It sounds like the humidity is low… you can try a water pan with gravel under the pot, or misting several times a day.

      Reply
  15. K.Cz. March 25, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Your plants are luscious. So very beautiful. I would love to have a split leaf philo, a small one to raise. Unfortunately in my area you can only purchase fully grown for big bucks from expensive greeneries or home interior decs. So I guess I am just a wee bit jealous. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and pics.

    Reply
    1. Yvonne October 28, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      You can buy smaller plants on Ebay. I have bought all types of plants and trees iff if Ebay & had great luck

      Reply
  16. Shweta September 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Hi,

    My split leaf plan is growing well, many new leaves came and can see more coming but these leaves doesn’t split only 2-3 leaves have beautiful split. I planted it 7-8 months ago also changed the pot as well once.

    Thanks for any suggestions…

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 21, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      New leaves often take some time to develop the deeper splits, just make sure it gets bright light and they should come out in time!

      Reply
  17. JC November 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Hi ! My daughter just gifted me a GORGEOUS fiddle leaf plant that I LOVE!!
    It has a stake in the center to hold it up … but it seems to be bothering one of the
    new leaves. Is the stake necessary or can I take it out? I am SO hoping I don’t
    kill this beautiful plant … I love it sooo much!! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard December 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      You shouldn’t need the stake, go ahead and remove it. You can always add it back later to another spot if it starts flopping over. I found this great article that should help you keep it healthy… one of our favorite plants! http://www.popsugar.com/home/Fiddle-Leaf-Fig-Tree-Care-32164481

      Reply
  18. Chris Brown December 5, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Where can I buy a giant bird of paradise as in your photo my daughter would like one for Christmas

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard December 20, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Most nurseries can order one for you… Good luck!

      Reply

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