Popular Tropical Plants

The term “Tropical Plants” refers to plants raised in an area that is always warm. Your local nursery will carry some tropical plants for growing indoors or you can buy them at Amazon.com. Some of the common ones attempted by home horticulture include:

Tropical Plants - Bamboo

Figure 1: True Bamboo

Some true Bamboo plants will survive under household conditions but will require extra care; the plant prefers to be outdoors. Bamboo needs a lot of light and may need to be placed outside periodically to maintain the best health. Many indoor plant stands can be used outdoors, and have wheels to make transporting large plants easier. For the best plant health care, be careful to not over-water Bamboo. If grown in a nursery, an atrium, or greenhouse with high humidity you will likely have a healthy Bamboo plant!

Note: Lucky Bamboo, found even in grocery stores, is not a true bamboo but a member of the lily family from the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia and Africa. It is one of the Best Indoor Plants for Beginners because it is very easy to care for. Do not use tap water on this plant unless the water has sat out for 24 hours; change the water weekly. This common plant prefers indirect sunlight and a temperature between 65-70 degrees. Give it an occasional feeding of a mild solution.

Tropical Plants - Hibiscus

Figure 2: Hibiscus

Hibiscus is also a native tropical plant. Heat is the most important factor for this plant during the winter. Considered outdoor flowering plants in parts of North America, they must be moved indoors from the yard or garden for the colder months. The Hibiscus is grown as an indoor plant in parts of Europe, Canada and colder areas of the US. Hibiscus cleans the air and releases oxygen back into it.

Tropical Plants – Yucca

Yucca is a tough perennial shrub consisting of 40-50 species, that is flexible and low maintenance. Yucca are also among the best (indoor or garden) air cleaning plants. They are native to hot, dry areas of the Caribbean, North-, South-, and Central America. Prized as an ornamental garden plant, some of the Yuccas have edible parts: seeds, fruit, flowers, stems and some Yucca, even the roots. Be cautious though, because some Yuccas are highly poisonous plants. If you don’t know what the plant is, make sure you call your local poison control center if a person or pet ingests a Yucca.

Although you can plant it in flower pots, the Yucca does better in a raised garden bed where it will get full sun. See the wikiHow link for propagation instructions.

Tropical Plants – Cactus

Tropical Plants - Cactus Garden

Figure 3: Cactus Garden

Cactus has been part of our diet for about 9,000 years; 2,500 species are known. The plant has diverse uses such as food, drink, sealant, caulking, toy manufacturing and dye for the cosmetic industry. The Cactus is also a common house plant and found not only at the nursery but even in grocery and drugstores. Perennial Cacti are stem succulent plants and can last through severe drought by storing water in their stems, leaves and roots. They require many hours of sunlight on a daily basis and well-drained soil.

Tropical Plants – Palm Plants

Palm Plants are tropical plants that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some produce flowers and fruit while others are prized for their foliage. Some are so big that they can only be grown outdoors or in very large buildings, while others make wonderful little houseplants. Like Spider Plants and Cyclamen, many varieties of Palm Plants come from Africa and other tropical climates.

Tropical Plants – Orchids

Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum are 2 species of Orchids native to the tropics, and enjoy daytime temperatures of 73° – 85°F, with humidity at approximately 85%. They prefer an East/Southeast facing window where they can get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Some people simplify their Orchid care by keeping them in the window above a shower because these species love the warmth and high humidity.

Tropical Plants - Zonal Geraniums, Appleblossom

Figure 4: Zonal Geranium

The Zonal Geranium was initially discovered in South Africa, but grows well in any tropical climate globally. This is an easy plant to grow indoors, and given enough light, will bloom continuously in dazzling shades of white, pink, red, fuchsia, salmon and light purple. The flowers grow in clumps similar to Hydrangea. These plants are commonly grown in flower pots. From personal experience I would say that geranium plants will not grow from a leaf, as some recommend, but rather from a cutting of 2-3 joints; just plant it above the first joint, water it thoroughly and allow the plant to dry out before re-watering. Some geraniums are also now grown from hybrid seeds—planted in small plugs; they often are a better plant/bloom than the geranium grown from a cutting.

Tropical Plants – Gardenia

The perennial evergreen shrub, Gardenia, is from a line of 142 species of flowering tropical plants belonging to the coffee family. The gardenia is normally grown outside; some will become small trees reaching 15 m (49.2 feet).  They are native to areas of Africa, Southern Asia, Australasia, and Oceania. The leaves of this plant have a strong texture; the flowers are singles or in small clusters of white or a soft yellow. Much like Roses and Peonies, the fragrance of the gardenia is beautiful and you may enjoy it for weeks as it blossoms from mid-spring until mid-summer—IF—you learn the basics of this tricky plant’s growing conditions and regular

Flowering Plants - Gardenia

Figure 5: Potted Gardenia

The Gardenia flower is a common choice for a beautiful corsage—vying with Roses and Orchids; it is one of the most fragrant flowers for the garden or indoors. Many gardenias are classified as an endangered species such as the Hawaiian Gardenia; there are only about a dozen of the very fragrant small trees remaining. Gardenias are a rather high maintenance plant that you don’t often see in flower pots—needing specific soil acidity, lots of water and sun, cool temperatures with high humidity; pests love them—especially whiteflies, scales, spider mites and aphids.

Tropical Plants – Horticulture

Horticulture is the science, technology, and business of plant cultivation for  the advantage of mankind; working at home in your own garden or potting plants for indoors is an example of horticulture at its basic level whether it’s tropical plants, garden vegetables or a leaf from your Mother’s favorite African Violet!

Sources and Citations

http://plantcaretoday.com/how-to-care-for-a-yucca-plant.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Yucca

http://www.dunecraft.com/resources/history_of_cacti.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Cactus-Indoors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca#Uses

http://www.bamboogarden.com/Interior%20Bamboo.htm

http://www.chiff.com/a/lucky-bamboo.htm – research source

http://www.ask.com/explore/different-colors-geranium-flowers – research source

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1118.html – research source

http://gardening.about.com/od/plantprofiles/p/Growing-And-Caring-For-Zonal-Geraniums-Pelargonium-X-Hortorum.htm – research source

http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/flora/higardenia.html – research source

http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Gardenias – research wource

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/rid-mealy-bugs-gardenia-houseplant-44955.html – research source

Spider Plants – Easy and Fun to Grow

Spider Plants are fun to grow and very hardy perennial tropical plants. They propagate almost effortlessly and will sometimes sprout new roots without even being in water. Because of the flowing appearance of the leaves, they are great as hanging plants (see Figure 1), but can look nice on indoor plant stands, as well. They are so easy to grow that they qualify as some of the best indoor plants for beginners.

Spider Plants

Figure 1: Hanging Spider Plant with Runners and Plantlets

I got my first Spider Plant cuttings  not long after receiving my first Coleus. I used a rather mature plantlets with long leaves, and rooted them in water. They sprouted roots within a few days, and before long I transplanted them into their own flower pots.

Unlike the flowering plants Cyclamen, Roses, and African Violets, Spider Plants are valued mostly for their foliage, but they do produce tiny white flowers.

Spider Plants – Growth and Care

Spider Plant health care is much easier than taking care of Palm Plants or Orchid care, but there are some simple steps you should take to make your Spider Plants thrive. To keep Spider Plants healthy make sure that they have bright indirect light. If they are in direct sunlight the leaves will scorch, but if they do not have enough light the colors will fade and sometimes the stripes will disappear altogether. To keep the plant looking full and even, turn it regularly so that there is an even distribution of light on the plant. Make sure that the soil dries thoroughly between waterings, and mist the leaves periodically because, unlike Succulent Plants, Spider Plants love humidity.

In a moderate or warm climate, Spider Plants can be grown outside on a shaded patio or along a garden walk, as long as they are out of direct sunlight and have sufficient humidity they should thrive. Also, Spider Plants can be grown in a hydroponics systems much like Lucky Bamboo, Lilies, Geranium and Poinsettia plants. There are many references online for growing them in hydroponics, and I would recommend something along those lines for them to thrive, but they can survive for months just in a jar of water.

Some websites state that Spider Plants are mildly poisonous plants if ingested, while others claim that they are safe. To truly be on the safe side, call your local poison control center if a person or animal ingests any part of Spider Plants.

Sources and Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorophytum_comosum – research source

http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/spider-plant.html – research source