Many native tropical plants will grow quite well in our homes, providing welcome color during the bleak winter months. Situate these flowering plants in a bright spot indoors and be sure they get plenty of water and adequate drainage. If possible, move them to a cooler location overnight, between 50 and 60 degrees F. The cooler nighttime temperatures will help keep the flowers from fading quickly in warm room temperatures in artificially heated homes.
African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha cultivars) are one of the easiest flowering indoor plants for the home. They produce flowers that resemble the common violets that appear as lawn weeds every spring, but they have fuzzy, sometimes variegated leaves. African violets require bright direct light---no more than four hours of exposure to direct sun per day. Fertilize them every other month and water from below. Do this by setting their pots in saucers of water to wick the water up through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot until the surface of the soil looks moist. African violets will flower continuously in your home in all colors except yellow and orange if you provide them with these simple cultivation practices.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum cultivars) are tropical bulbs that are widely popular as indoor flowering plants. They are often sold in their dormant state, with the bulb already planted but not yet growing. After its initial watering to break its dormancy, amaryllis will bloom in about 10 to 12 weeks. They produce giant, almost dinner plate-size flowers atop an 18-inch-high stem in shades of red, pink, white or striped.
To bring them into flower the following year, cut off the flower head as soon as the flower fades, then remove the stem when it turns yellow. Continue growing the leaves that remain in a sunny spot indoors, watering when the soil is dry on the surface. Move amaryllis outdoors to grow in a shady spot during summer. In late summer, withhold water and the leaves will turn yellow and dry up. Put the bulb in a cool, dry place for 4 to 6 weeks to simulate its natural dormant period. Repot and water well about 10 to 12 weeks before you want it to bloom again.
Cool-weather-loving cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum cultivars) will flower for months in a cooler-than-average room temperature in the low 60s. They are tender perennials that will re-grow from roots called "corms" after exposed to a dry dormant period. When flowering slows down and stops, decrease watering gradually until the leaves wither and die.
Store the corms in a cool and dry place for up to eight weeks, then repot into peat moss and grow on during the summer months in a partially shaded location. They will begin blooming in late autumn. Cyclamen produce single flowers that are borne on stems held above their crown of leaves. The flowers can be white, pink, fuschia, or shades of red.