Bring the tropics indoors with the addition of house plants. Select plants that survive in conditions similar to your particular home environment for the best success. Provide adequate light and water as needed for chosen varieties, and be aware of room temperature and humidity levels. Modern homes are often air conditioned and heated year-round, which is hard on plants adapted to warm weather and humid air. Choose healthy, vibrant tropical plants from garden centers and nurseries. Check plants thoroughly for signs of disease or insect damage.
Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a coniferous evergreen tree that grows up to 200 feet tall in its natural setting, but is slow growing as a houseplant. Norfolk Island pines have a soft texture and tiered branching around a single, upright trunk. Provide a cool and bright indoor climate with indoor temperatures of 60 to 70 F and slightly cooler at night. Rotate the plant a quarter turn weekly to keep it from reaching toward a single light source. A household humidifier is beneficial when indoor humidity levels are below 50 percent. Water when the top 1 inch of potting soil feels dry. Fertilize Norfolk Island pines with commercial indoor foliage plant food.
Some begonia varieties are grown for their flowers and others are grown for their foliage. Rex begonia is an evergreen, herbaceous perennial, densely foliated with simple, alternate leaves of varying size texture and color. Provide filtered or indirect sunlight, and keep the potting soil moist, but not wet. Over-watering begonia will quickly rot its delicate root system. Fertilize monthly with half doses of commercial liquid fertilizer. Begonias prefer a good amount of humidity which is often non-existent during winter months.
Fancy Leafed Caladium
Fancy leafed caladiums (Caladium bicolor) are tuberous, herbaceous perennials cultivated for their beautiful foliage. Caladiums grow 8 inches to 3 feet tall, with leaves up to 14 inches long. Leaves are flat or ruffled and range in color from red, white, green, pink and variegated. The leaves are borne on petioles as long as, or several times longer, than the leaf blade. Grow caladiums in medium indirect or filtered sunlight. Keep the soil moist, and provide medium to high humidity levels. Fertilize caladiums with half doses of commercial fish emulsion every two weeks. Caladiums prefer a 50/50 mix of potting soil and peat moss.