You might be surprised to know that many typical houseplants sold in floral shops and garden centers are tropical plants. They’re good choices for indoor gardening because of their easy care. That may be a surprise as well, but most of them have the same basic needs as other house plants. Let’s look at some popular types and how to best care for them.
Popular types of tropical plants
If you look up how many different types of tropical plants there are, you’re likely to find hundreds. These are some of the most common ones found at your local floral shop.
- Palm plants
- Spider plants
- ZZ plants
- Chinese evergreen
- Dumb cane
- Money tree plant
- Rubber tree plant
- Peace Lily
- Bamboo plants
Properly Watering Tropical Plants
The proper way to water any plant is to get information from your local florist, then do some research on your own, keeping in mind the environment in which it will live. Special care depends on the type of plant and its placement in your home.
As with any houseplant, finding the right moisture is tricky, but most tropical plants like soil that stays evenly moist. Some common house plants can tolerate being occasionally underwatered, but the number one cause of death for tropical plants is overwatering. It’s important to monitor watering them to avoid extremes.
The easiest way to see if a plant needs water is to stick your finger into the soil about an inch. If the soil feels wet, then it doesn’t need to be watered. Check daily and the plant will eventually tell you it needs water.
If you tend to forget watering your plants, indoor plant watering devices help make watering tropical plants easier. If you’re unsure about watering houseplants correctly, a soil moisture gauge is another handy device. It could go hand in hand with a watering device.
Keeping Humidity Levels Just Right.
The humidity level in your home is another factor in properly caring for tropical plants. Tropical plants like it humid, which makes sense, considering they originally come from the tropics. Most common tropical houseplants will easily adapt to living indoors where the air isn’t naturally humid.
Keep in mind, however, some plants are more sensitive to a lack of humidity than others. So, humidifying the air never hurts. Increasing the humidity of your home using a humidifier near them is one way to introduce a moist climate. You can also simply mist them regularly with a plant mister. Another method is to put the plants on a bed of pebbles in a try with water. A bed of pebbles can make an attractive presentation while being practical. If you choose this method, keep the water level just below the pebbles so the roots don’t constantly sit in the water.
Other ways to keep humidity optimal are decorative plant cloches or mini greenhouses. An indoor humidity monitor kept near your tropical plants can give you an idea about whether to adjust humidity levels.
Providing Proper Light to Tropical Plants
Tropical plant types vary in their requirements for light: some require little, and some are best kept in bright light. Get tips from your florist and ask to see how they display theirs. Do research into the plants you’ve selected so you can adapt the home environment to the plants you’ve chosen.
For instance, if you put a plant that prefers low light in a sunny window, its leaves will burn, and the plant might die. On the other hand, growing houseplants like croton, rubber tree, and some varieties of dracaena without sufficient light, makes them long and leggy rather than lush. They’ll also lose their attractive colors.
If your plants have burnt leaves, move them out of direct sunlight. And if your light-craving plants produce the mentioned results, move them to a sunnier spot. If one’s not available or practical, add indoor plant lights.
Choosing the Best Soil
When it comes to indoor houseplants, sometimes dirt isn’t just dirt. But when it comes to growing indoor tropical plants, most of them will grow just fine in a general-purpose potting soil. If you usually end up overwatering plants, try adding perlite or pumice to the soil. They have the quality of filtering and draining so water leaves the soil quicker. Ask your florist about mixing the right percentages of perlite-to-soil.
On the other hand, if you often forget to water your plants, mix peat moss or vermiculite into the general-purpose soil before potting plants to help retain moisture longer. You can add both, but again, be sure of the proper mix of peat and vermiculite to potting soil.
Some exotic plants, like bromeliads and orchids, do require special soil, so be sure to do a bit of research for the types of indoor plants you’re growing before repotting them.
Fertilizing Tropical Plants
A regular routine of fertilization is part of tropical houseplant care. Be sure to find the proper fertilizer for your plants and add it during the spring and summer months. Winter fertilization is only for plants that require it and the difference in seasons for each type of plant is good advice to get from your florist.
While a tropical plant fertilizer is ideal, general-purpose fertilizers work fine. Using organic plant fertilizer on tropical plants is good for some because of sensitivities to chemical fertilizers, making them burn easily. Another great choice is a compost fertilizer. Pre-made compost liquid fertilizers are available or buy compost tea bags and brew your own. Slow-release granular fertilizer also works great.
A Quick Tip When Starting Out
Your local florist shop is the best place to find not only some of the tropical plant varieties mentioned here, but expert knowledge in caring for them. Ask your florist for help and get to know them. When you’re serious about caring for your plants, your florist takes you seriously.
As you can see, tropical plants don’t have to be hard to care for while adding beauty and life to your home. They might become one of your favorite types of indoor plants because who doesn’t want to add a little bit of the tropics to home sweet home?
Next time, we’ll help you troubleshoot problems in growing tropical house plants.