Resorting to Tropicals for Houseplants

Create your own tropical paradise with these exotic houseplants. However, in their native lands these tropical plants have jobs to do.


(Caladium bicolor)

According to Francisca Coelho, director of glasshouses at New York Botanical Garden, caladium is used in making love potions and amulets, and it's also used to treat fevers.

Although this tropical rhizomatous plant is excellent for outdoor shade gardens, it also makes a great houseplant. The heart-shaped leaves come in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, green and a mixture of all of the above. Caladiums are great to enliven and brighten up the interior of your home with its vibrant colors. Parts of this plant are poisonous, so keep away from nibblers. To force rhizomes indoors, place on bottom heat (caladium needs temperatures of about 75 degrees F to break dormancy) and provide with adequate moisture and bright, indirect light (for maximum color). Choice selections, including 'Aaron', are available. USDA Zones 10 to 11.

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