Many houseplants are tropical in origin. Because houses are heated in the winter, tropical plants can survive without risk of killing frosts and temperatures. In temperate climates, some tropical houseplants can grow outside during the summer. By moving the plants inside for the winter, you can use the plants either as a houseplant or an outdoor potted plant.
The peace lily is a tropical ground cover that can grow to between 1 and 3 feet tall with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. It has dark green leaves that look like straps. Peace lilies have large, white flowers that are similar in structure to calla lily blossoms. The flowers grow on long stalks. A tropical plant, peace lilies don't grow in areas colder than United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone 10B. It grows indoors both in tropical and temperate areas. As a houseplant, the peace lily grows well in shade or indirect light. It needs a loamy or sandy soil that drains well.
African violets are another tropical plant that grows well as a houseplant. An inexpensive plant, African violets do best in an east or north facing window that gets a minimum of several hours of sun per day. However, they will deteriorate if they get too much sun. They flower best in 12 hours of strong, but indirect, light. African violets grow best in specialized pots where the roots can hang down into water. They thrive with specialized liquid African violet fertilizer. Avoid splashing cold water on the leaves, as this can cause a dead spot on the leaf. African violets do best with temperatures between 60 and 75 F, but can tolerate warmer days.
Many tropical orchids are popular as house plants. According to the University of Florida, cattleya orchids are the most popular and widely grown orchid in Florida. After 75 years of hybridization, there are many varieties of cattleya orchids. These orchids grow in all colors except blue. Some varieties produce up to 20 flowers per spike. The flowers of cattleya orchids can last six weeks. Orchids grow best in coconut coir or bark and do best in partial sun or bright shade. Orchids can benefit from specialized orchid fertilizers. There is some debate among orchid growers about the benefits of organic fertilizer. Orchids require frequent water. Many people feel that these frequent waterings wash away organic fertilizer before it has a chance to convert to a form that can be used by the orchid.