Gardeners in temperate areas want a touch of color during the winter, and tropical indoor houseplants provide something cheery throughout the year. They brighten up a room with colorful flowers or variegated foliage. With the right amount of water, light and fertilizer, these plants should perform well in the home environment.
Rex begonia is grown primarily for its bright showy leaves rather than its flowers, which are plain. Rex begonia leaves have shades of pink, light green and olive; the leaves come in many different shapes, even on one plant. The plant needs high humidity or its leaves develop crispy brown edges. They are slow growing plants and benefit from using a balanced fertilizer to promote growth and plant color.
Coffee (Coffea arabica) makes an interesting houseplant for coffee lovers. With time a coffee plant can grow several feet in height, but it's a slow grower. This plant has glossy bright green leaves that are ovoid in shape. Native to Ethiopia, the coffee plant likes humidity and can't stand outdoor temperatures lower than 60 F. so perform best as houseplants. This plant performs best with a high amount of indirect sunlight and prefers to have a continuously moist soil. In the summer, the plant develops tiny beans that turn red when they are ripe.
The prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) displays variegated green leaves that fold up in the night like hands clasped for prayer. This plant is native to South America and can be grown outdoors in tropical climates or indoors as a houseplant. Prayer plants perform best in shade and dislike sunlight; direct sun bleaches the color out of the leaves. They enjoy humidity. Prayer plant leaves may be dark green with tan patches or olive green with red veins.
African violets (Saintpaulia cvs.) have furry leaves and flowers that come in an array of colors, from white or yellow to deep purple or blue. These plants require a high level of indirect sunlight to produce flowers; direct sunlight can turn the leaves yellow. They benefit from periodic applications of a nitrogen fertilizer. African violets benefit from a high degree of humidity. Their temperature requirements--nightly lows of 65 F.--make them better houseplants than outdoor plants for most areas.