Tropical Plant Guide


Gardeners in cool climates often grow tropical plants outdoors during the summer. Some of these plants, such as elephant ears, are quite large and best overwintered in a dormant state. Other plants, such as orchids or African violets, will grow and bloom indoors all winter long.

Tropical Plant Needs

Tropical plants grown indoors will need supplemental lighting in the form of a grow light. During periods of active growth, a time-release fertilizer is essential. Moist, well-drained soil and a humidity level around 60 percent will keep tropical plants happy indoors.

Dealing with Common Pests

Tropical houseplants are prone to pests such as aphids, whitefly, spider mites, scale and mealy bugs. Remove scale and mealy bugs by hand. Remove spider mites, whiteflies and aphids by submerging the plant's foliage in water or by spraying them off.

Overwintering Dormant Tropical Plants

Once a light frost blackens the foliage of plants with corms, bulbs and tubers, cut the foliage back to 6 inches, then dig the plant up, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Wash the excess soil off, allow it to air dry in a place out of direct light, then pack it in peat moss in a well-ventilated container and store it in a cool, dark place for the winter.


  • Colorado State University Extension: Managing Houseplant Pests
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Lighting Indoor Houseplants
  • University of Illinois Extension: Overwintering Tropical Plants

Who Can Help

  • "Complete Houseplants"; Jack Kramer; 2008
  • "Spectacular Container Plants"; Byron E. Martin and Laurelynn G. Martin; 2005
  • "Paradise Under Glass"; Ruth Kassinger; 2010
  • "Tempting Tropicals"; Ellen Zachos; 2005
  • "The Houseplant Encyclopedia"; Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kruger; 2006
Keywords: tropical plant guide, guide tropical plant, tropical plants, tropical plant, overwintering tropical plant, indoor tropical plant

About this Author

Sheri Ann Richerson has been writing professionally since 1981. She is the author of 20 books, including "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Year-Round Gardening," "101 English Garden Tips" and "101 Organic Gardening Tips." Her articles have been published in hundreds of magazines and newspapers internationally. Richerson attended Ball State University and Huntington University, where she majored in communications and minored in theatrical arts.

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