Common Tropical Houseplants

Some tropical houseplants are well-suited to the average home environment, making them become popular among indoor growers. Homes generally are poorly lit for a plant. Hot and dry in the summer and cold and drafty in the winter are not ideal conditions for tender tropicals. Those tropical plants that are adaptable and tolerant of these conditions have worked their way into many houseplant lover's collection.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo is a tropical houseplant that is commonly found in the floral section of gardening and grocery stores growing in cups water. It is not a true bamboo, but a plant called Dracaena sanderiana, which has a cane-like stem that resembles bamboo. When the stems are young, they are very flexible and are often trained to grow in ornate patterns such as curls, twists, lattice or braids. Most lucky bamboo plants are sold growing in water, but they do better in a rich, well-draining potting soil that is kept evenly moist. They prefer a bright but shady location that does not receive full sun. They will survive in low light but bright light makes the leaves larger, which is supposed to bring you better fortune. For this reason, lucky bamboo is grown as a common houseplant all over Southeast Asia.

Orchid Cactus

Orchid cacti are a favorite tropical houseplant because of their colorful flowers. They are a tropical cactus growing in the trees of the South American and Central American rain forests. They are epiphytic, which means they grow directly attached to trees without any soil. They get moisture from the constantly humid air and daily rain showers. They are a a true jungle cactus. Orchid cacti are easy to maintain as a houseplant. They like low light levels with no direct sun in an east or west window. They need a well-draining potting mix with 25 to 50 percent bark or sand. They like to remain evenly moist but not wet. Do not let them dry out completely.

Rubber Plant

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a small tree with large, oval-shaped, thick, waxy green leaves up to 8 to 12 inches long. This is an easy houseplant to maintain that is native to the tropical areas of India and Malay. It likes full sun to part shade but will survive in lower light levels. The best growth is in dappled sun. It prefers a rich, well-draining soil. Allow the plant to dry out between watering. Fertilize once a month in spring and summer with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer.

Keywords: lucky bamboo, orchid cactus, rubber plant

About this Author

Brian Albert has been in the publishing industry since 1999. He is an expert in horticulture, with a focus on aquatics and tropical plants like orchids. He has successfully run an aquatic plant business for the last five years. Albert's writing experience includes the Greater Portland Aquarium Society newsletter and politics coverage for a variety of online journals.