Types of Tropical House Plants

Gardeners who wish to add a tropical look to indoor areas of their home have a variety of low-maintenance choices in tropical plants. These plants include flowering perennials, palms, palm-like shrubs and shrubs, and they can be found in various shapes, sizes and colors. As you would when growing any plant indoors, use an appropriate soil mixture, allow for drainage and place the tropical plant in an area where it receives adequate light for proper growth.


Bromeliads (genus Bromeliad) belong to the family Bromeliaceae and encompass a large family of cultivars in various shapes, colors and sizes. Their foliage ranges from solid colors to variegated colors of greens, grays, cream and pinks, and they work well as smallish and attractive tropical houseplants. The shapes, sizes and colors of their blooms depend upon the particular cultivar grown, and the flowers rise from the center cup in various shades of pink, purple, red, blue, yellow and orange. Bromeliads also grow well planted outdoors in USDA planting zones 9 through 11. Indoor bromeliads require a draining container that is large enough to house the plant and not tip over. Their root systems are small and shallow, with the main portion of the plant above the soil. These plants develop root rot if overwatered, so gardeners should water indoor ones once every one to two weeks, as they are drought-tolerant. Use a well-draining potting mix and situate the plant in an indoor area that receives bright, diffused light. Outdoor bromeliads grow well in partial to full shade.


Dracaena (genus Dracaena deremensis) is a member of the family Agavaceae and encompasses many cultivars grown primarily for their colorful foliage. This low-maintenance, tropical, evergreen perennial grows quite well in indoor conditions. Foliage covers a range of colors from light to dark greens or may be variegated with a mix of pink, cream and green. The flowers are small and insignificant. These plants also grow well planted outdoors in USDA planting zones 9b through 11. Depending upon the cultivar, these plants can grow from 3 to 12 feet in height and prefer well-draining soil mixtures. Gardeners should plant dracaena in a container that is two to three times larger than its root ball. It is a drought-tolerant plant once established and, if indoors, requires weekly watering for best growth. Dracaena grown indoors requires placement in an area that receives bright but indirect light.

Lady Palm

Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) belongs to the family Arecacea/Palmae and is an evergreen, perennial palm that is native to China. It has a clumping habit with fan-like divided foliage and thin, green trunks that make it suitable for use as an indoor tropical plant. These plants also grow well outdoors in USDA planting zones 9 through 11 and are cold-resistant up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Lady palms grow up to 10 feet tall planted outdoors, but have a tendency to be less tall in indoor conditions. Gardeners should plant an indoor lady palm in a container two to three times larger than the plant's root ball, allowing space for newly developing trunks. Containers should have a well-draining potting mix, and the plants are quite drought-tolerant, requiring watering once every one to two weeks. The plants grow best indoors receiving bright, indirect lighting; if planted outdoors, partial to full shade.

Keywords: indoor tropical plants, indoor tropical houseplants, indoor grown plants

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.