How to Take Care of Tropical Plants

Overview

Most plants that are commonly grown as houseplants, originated in the tropics. In fact, the best way to grow a tropical plant, if you don't live in a warm and humid climate, is indoors. In most cases, even though the environment in most homes and offices is not particularly ideal, one can create conditions for plants that cannot be accomplished outdoors. Generally, tropical plants enjoy high humidity levels and warm temperatures. Light levels play an important role in the health of your tropical plants as well.

Step 1

Determine which direction the windows in your home face. Southern exposure provides the highest degree of light and warmth, whereas you will get the least amount of light and it will be cooler with a northern exposure. Eastern and western exposures have light intensities between northern and southern. This information will help you to determine where in the home to place your tropical plants. If you have southern exposure, keep your shade-loving plants further away from the windows; with northern exposure, move them closer to the windows in your home.

Step 2

Provide enough, but not too much, water for your tropical plant. This can, at first, be a bit of a guessing game. A general rule is to test the moisture content of the soil by inserting your finger 2 inches into it. If your finger comes out wet, don't water the plant. For a plant in a pot that is smaller than 8 inches, insert your finger 1 inch into the soil. As soon as the soil feels dry on your finger, it is time to water.

Step 3

Mist your tropical plant at least once a day. If you can find the time to mist it more often, it will thrive even more.

Step 4

Fertilize your tropical plants once a month with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Make sure you use a water-soluble fertilizer and dilute it to half the recommended strength. Once every 3 months, flush the soil with water to avoid salt buildup. Just run lukewarm water over the plant for 1-2 minutes, allowing it to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Fertilizer, balanced and water-soluble
  • Plant misting bottle

References

  • Jantra, I., & Kruger, U. (2006). The Houseplant Encyclopedia. Buffalo: Firefly Books.
  • Zachos, E., (2005). Tempting Tropicals. Portland: Timber Press.

Who Can Help

  • Tending Tropical Plants
Keywords: caring for tropical plants, houseplants, growing tropicals

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.