Many types of indoor tropical plants are not grown for their flowers or fruits, but rather for their stunning foliage. Plants with interesting foliage provide beauty not only during their flowering season, but year-round. Most indoor potted plants originate from tropical areas of the world where plants have adapted to the warm daytime and nighttime temperatures that are common in the average house.
Weeping figs (Ficus benjamina) are one of the most commonly grown types of tropical indoor foliage plants. They are native to Southeast Asia, the southwest Pacific islands and tropical Australia. Weeping figs have 1-inch-long leaves on a smooth white-gray to brown trunk. Fortunately, they can withstand heavy pruning and can be kept small.
Many container-grown weeping figs have an intentionally twisted trunk, or have multiple trunks that are braided together and eventually fuse, forming a single trunk. They are commonly found as summer patio plants, in entryways and office buildings and as indoor bonsai. They like well-draining, moist soil and bright light with no direct summer sun. They cannot tolerate freezing or cold drafts. A rapid change in growing conditions such as temperature or light intensity will cause them to lose their leaves, but typically they will recover from this in a few weeks if properly cared for.
Dumb cane plants are members of the genus Dieffenbachia and are native to the American tropics and West Indies. They are a very popular tropical-foliage indoor plant due to their ease of care and showy leaves. They can reach up to 6 feet tall with 20-inch-long oval leaves that are green, often with splashes of white or cream variegation. Dumb canes get their name because the sap will sting the mouth and paralyze the vocal cords if eaten.
Dumb cane plants like bright light but not full summer sun. They will survive in low light levels, however. They need warm temperatures, above 60 degrees at night and slightly warmer during the day. Let the soil dry slightly before watering.
The ti plant (Cordyline terminalis) is a popular indoor foliage plant as well as a garden plant in tropical areas. It is native to tropical southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It grows a cane that can reach up to 7 feet tall with 2-foot-long leaves. They range from dark greens to purples and reds. Many types are variegated.
Ti plants like rich, well-draining soil and should be kept evenly moist during the spring and summer growing season and slightly drier in the winter. They like light shade to partial sun. Ti plants are tropical, but they can withstand brief temperature drops to 32 degrees.