Easy Indoor Tropical Plants

These easy-to-grow potted plants are a tropics lover's paradise for indoor growing.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Tropical Plant Collection

Don't expect to recreate the tropics indoors. But you can come close!

Rubber Tree

Rubber trees are among the easiest indoors plants, with large, dramatic foliage that can sometimes be variegated. (Ficus elastica) is the slower-growing, broad-leaf cousin to the slightly more fickle weeping fig (F. benjamina). Whether solid green or variegated, it is easy to keep shrubby with regular pruning, or “limbed up” into a small tree, growing best when kept in bright light, but can quickly fill an entire window.

Sansevieria

There are many different species of the standard sansevieria, including some with light-colored and variegated foliage.

Sansevieria Cylindrica

The carrot-shaped leaves of Sansevieria cylindrica add a dramatic touch to any plant collection. Its slow-spreading rhizomes produce clusters of flat, sword-like leaves, either tall or in compact rosettes.

Philodendron 'Xanadu'

For their sheer durability, Philodendrons are among the most common potted plants, from the heart-leaf vine to larger-leaf shrubs that can get the size of an easy chair. There are many interesting compact forms more suitable to indoors than the monster “split leaf” kind; perhaps the best of those is 'Xanadu' (pictured), a compact, slow-spreading potted shrub only about three feet tall, with deeply serrated leaves.

Dwarf Shefflera

“Baby umbrella tree” or dwarf shefflera (Shefflera arboricola) is a miniature of the larger species commonly grown in malls. Its whorls of thick leaflets tolerate indoors very well, and needs little if any pruning to keep it in bounds. Variegated forms are available for an extra splash of color.

Chinese Evergreen - Aglaonema

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) is an all-time favorite foliage plant for its wide, pointed leaves on semi-erect stems. Many have very pretty colored variegated or blotched leaves in shades of both dark and pale green, white or yellow. The multiple-stem plants often hide short stems of white or yellowish flowers, shaped like narrow cupped hands (similar to that of peace lily). This plant is widely grown in dim hotel or airport lobbies, and its cut stems are super easy to root in water, for sharing with others.

Ribbon Dracaena

One of the largest groups of indoor plants are dracaenas, most of which are stemmy plants topped with lion manes of long, thin leaves. Some, including the several varieties of D. deremensis such as ‘Warneckii’, ‘Janet Craig’, and ‘Rikki’ are compact and orderly, others are tall and multiple-stemmed. The large “corn” plant (D. fragrans ‘Massaneana’) is usually grown with three large trunks in one pot, while narrow-leaf forms (D. marginata) are often pruned to have several branches. By the way, the novelty “good luck bamboo” is actually a small type of Dracaena rooted in water and trained to grow with spiraling stems.

This airy multiple-stem ribbon plant (Dracaena marginata) is one of the easiest of all dracaenas, and can be pruned to make it fuller.

Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane

“Dumb cane” (Dieffenbacia) gets its common name from how, if ingested, its sap can cause a painful (though not life-threatening or long-lasting) irritation to the mouth and throat, often rendering its eater temporarily speechless. Its long-stemmed, bold leaves, produced on sturdy upright stems, can be solid green, variegated, spotted, or striped. Prune it to keep it from getting leggy.

Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum

Peace lily, often called by its Latin name Spathiphyllum, tolerates perhaps less light than any other. The pot-filling leafy plant can get up to three feet tall, and often has separate, taller flowering stems each with a large white cupped “spathe” and finger-like spadix. It is outstanding for removing airborne contaminants, and can live for many years on little more than occasional watering and feeding. However, in most cases it is best to replant into a potting soil that is less well-drained than the greenhouse-friendly kind in which they are first grown.

How to Grow and Care for Peace Lily Plants

Rex Begonia

Endless variations in begonia plant shape, leaf form and patterns make this a popular and easy-to-share windowsill plant.

Aloe Vera

Many cacti and succulents including aloe vera tolerate low humidity indoors, if given a bit of extra light.

Aloe Vera Planting and Growing Tips

Peperomia

Small peperomias are available in many leaf shapes and colors, and are often used in pots or in terrarium collections.

Devil's Backbone - Pedilanthus

This unusual devil's backbone (pedilanthus) has crooked stems and variegated leaves, and is an easy-to-root heirloom or pass-along plant.

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