How to Care for Indoor Tropical Plants


Tropical plants are commonly used as houseplants because they are attractive, many are easy to care for, and being indoors provides them with the protection they need from cold temperatures. Even if you live in an area that gets snow, you can still enjoy a hint of a warmer climate when you add tropical houseplants to your interior design. Tropical houseplants are sold at nurseries and "big box" stores with nursery departments. They include bromeliads, palms, philodendrons, dieffenbachias, ti, crotons, anthuriums and orchids.

Step 1

Determine if your home has enough direct or indirect light to sustain tropical plants. Many, such as orchids, do not need direct sunlight--in fact, it's not recommended. Bright, indirect sunlight is best, although morning sun is acceptable for many plants. A large window usually provides plenty of light.

Step 2

Purchase your tropical plant or plants, attractive pots with saucers and potting mix. Then transplant your plants into their pots using the potting soil.

Step 3

Place small pebbles in the plant saucer and then set your pot on top of it in the location you have chosen. After you water your plant, water will remain in the saucer, providing humidity the plant needs while keeping it from becoming waterlogged. Too much water can lead to root rot.

Step 4

Water most tropical plants once each week. Avoid overwatering, but make sure they don't get too dry.

Step 5

Fertilize flowering tropical plants such as orchids with fertilizers designed for them. Other tropicals, such as philodendrons, are very hardy and only need applications of a balanced fertilizer twice a year.

Step 6

Control insect pests such as aphids, spider mites and scale with insecticidal soap, which is available in spray bottles.

Step 7

Spray tropical plants with a fine mist of water once or twice each week, especially in dry weather, to maintain the humidity they need.

Things You'll Need

  • Starter plants
  • Pots
  • Saucers
  • Potting soil
  • Spray bottle
  • Pebbles
  • Heating coil (optional)
  • Humidity meter (optional)
  • Humidifier (optional)


  • University of Arizona
  • Tropical Houseplant Growing
  • The Garden Helper
Keywords: tropical gardening, houseplants, houseplant care

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.