How to Care for Tropical Plants Indoors

Yellow hibiscus. image by Photo by B. Fahs


Tropical plants make great houseplants. Not only do they add greenery with their beautiful leaves and flowers, they can actually improve the indoor environment by emitting fresh oxygen. For example, the areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) is ranked as the top houseplant for purifying the air and removing toxins. A warm, sunny window is the perfect place for a potted tropical plant. However, tropical plants are quite tolerant of many conditions, and generally do well under fluorescent lights.

Step 1

Fill a pot about 3/4 full with potting soil. If you are planting an orchid, use a fairly small pot and bark that is specially created for orchids.

Step 2

Empty your plant from its nursery pot and set it into your larger pot. Fill the pot with more potting soil and gently pat it down around the plant's base.

Step 3

Set pebbles in the plant saucer before you set your plant on it; when you water your plant, the excess water will stay in the saucer and provide humidity, which tropical plants require. The pebbles will prevent the plant from sitting in a puddle.

Step 4

Water your tropical houseplant thoroughly the first time, but allow it to dry slightly before you water it again. Most tropical plants need to be watered once each week. Provide enough water each time so that some of it fills the saucer and pebbles.

Step 5

Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer two or three times each year. Orchids need an N-P-K ratio of about 19-31-17. Give other flowering types of tropical plants a low nitrogen fertilizer in the spring to encourage flower production.

Step 6

Treat insects like aphids, scale insects or spider mites with soap spray. Spray as soon as you see any insects to control a potential invasion.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only water tropical plants with room temperature water.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil or bark
  • Pots with drainage holes
  • Saucers
  • Pebbles


  • Tropical Houseplant Growing
  • The Garden Helper
Keywords: tropical houseplant, growing indoors, gardening containers

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.

Photo by: Photo by B. Fahs