Information on the Care of Tropical House Plants

Overview

House plants are both attractive and functional. They can be used in any indoor space, including offices. Not only does the lush, green foliage add a splash of nature to any room, but tropical house plants also add oxygen to the indoor space and some, such as philodendrons, even remove toxic chemicals from the air, according to information published by Colorado State University. Care of these warmth-and-humidity loving plants is pretty basic across species. While the amount of light needed will vary (some, such as dracaenas, can thrive with very little light), all tropical house plants need humidity in the air and plenty of rich, moist soil to thrive.

Step 1

Provide some light for your tropical house plant. Even those that can grow in low-light conditions, such as corn plants, do best when given some bright but indirect light each day. Do not place these plants in direct sunlight, however, as the rays of the sun can burn their leaves or fade the variegation and colors in the foliage.

Step 2

Water as needed. Most problems with house plants come from over- or under-watering, according to information published by Texas A&M University. The master gardeners at that university suggest holding off on watering until the soil feels dry down to about 2 inches. Use your finger to test and water when the soil feels dry or barely moist at that depth. Mist your plant daily with a spray bottle if the plant has high humidity needs.

Step 3

Keep the temperature consistent. Do not place your plant near any hot or cold drafts, such as by an air-conditioning vent or right up next to a window. While the needs can vary slightly by species, in general, tropical house plants thrive in temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit during the day, with a drop of around 10 degrees at night, according to information published by Texas A&M University.

Step 4

Fertilize indoor tropical house plants between two to four times a year. Use a liquid fertilizer formulated for foliage plants and follow the directions according to the size and age of your plant. Minerals and salts in the fertilizer can build up and taint the soil, according to information published by the Smithsonian institution, so it is also important to flush the pot (water the plant until the water drains freely out the bottom) once each year.

Step 5

Monitor for indoor insect pests. Common pests of tropical house plants include spider mites, scale and mealy bugs, according to information published by North Dakota State University. Mild infestations can often be knocked off the plant with a strong stream of water or even plucked off by hand. Severe infestations require washing the plant with insecticidal soap, which has the added benefit of removing dust and debris from the plant's leaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Insecticidal soap

References

  • Texas A&M University: House Plants
  • Smithsonian Institution: Indoor Tropicals Fact Sheet
  • North Dakota State University: Houseplants: Proper Care and Management of Pest Problems
  • Colorado State University: Plants "Clean" Air Inside Our Homes
Keywords: house plant care, indoor tropical plants, growing tropicals indoors

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.