Home to towering trees, lush plants and fierce predators, the tropical rainforest has long had a hold on the popular imagination. Tropical flowering plants from the rainforest are valued for their unusual blooms, which often exhibit strange and exotic forms, colors and patterns. Though not all tropical flowers are well suited for home gardening, there are many species that are.
A member of the madder family, ixora (Ixora coccinea), also called jungle flame, is a flowering shrub native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The plant typically grows to be around 4 or 5 feet tall, although it may grow to be twice that height in ideal conditions. Ixora boasts dense oblong green leaves accented by clusters of brilliant flowers, in colors ranging from scarlet to yellow depending on the cultivar. The plant is best suited to cultivation in USDA zones 9 to 11, preferably with full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. The plant will tolerate salinity, but not alkalinity, which causes the plant's foliage to yellow. An acidic, moist soil that is watered frequently and enhanced with high nitrogen fertilizer is perfect for this plant.
Nun orchid (Phaius tankervilliae) is an herbaceous perennial native to parts of tropical Asia, as well as tropical Australia. The rainforest plant boasts a 3- or 4-foot stalk of brownish red and white orchid flowers, which appear in the late spring. Nun orchid is not tolerant of cold weather and will only thrive outdoors in USDA zones 9 to 11, though it may be grown as a houseplant in cooler areas. Nun orchid does best in a light shade or dappled sunlight. A moist, well-drained and humus-rich soil is ideal for this plant. Water frequently, but not enough to cause the soil to become waterlogged or soggy.
A native of the tropical rainforests of Brazil, urn plant (Aechmea chantinii "Samuri") is a flowering perennial bromeliad of about 3 feet that sports stiff, thick silvery green leaves. The plant flowers in summer, producing a tall stalk of waxy red or bright orange flowers. Urn plant is a popular specimen or container plant in tropical climates, and is a popular houseplant throughout the world. Urn plant does best in USDA zones 10A to 11A, in partial sunlight. A well-drained, neutral loam is ideal for this plant. Water urn plant frequently, enough to keep the soil consistently moist to the touch. Houseplants should be misted with lime-free warm water to increase humidity.