Many of the plants that are sold as houseplants are from a tropical environment. Too tender to be grown outdoors in many regions of the country, they do just fine indoors, where temperature and lighting can be controlled. Although they won’t grow with the vigor and to the size they grow in the tropics, tropical indoor plants are generally easy to care for.
This plant is also known as snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue. Growing from three to five feet in height, this native of tropical west Africa is very easy to grow. When you bring it home from the nursery, repot it in an African violet planting mix. Water it well and then let the top two inches of soil dry prior to watering again. Feed it with African violet fertilizer once a month until winter. It will thrive in a well-lit area of your home. Keep it away from pets, as the leaves are known to be toxic.
Commonly known as dumb cane, this is a popular and carefree house plant. A tropical plant native to Brazil, it has beautiful, wide leaves in various shades of green. Even though its origins are misty, humid environments, the Dieffenbachia does fine with average levels of humidity and moderate light in the home. To determine when it’s time to water your Dieffenbachia, stick your finger into the soil and, if the top inch feels dry, give it a drink until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. According to the ASPCA, Dieffenbachia, if eaten by your pets, will cause a burning sensation in the mouth and, possibly, vomiting.
What says tropical more than a palm tree? The common name for this plant is parlor palm, and it is favored by those who want a tropical palm that will remain somewhat small, as some varieties ("Bella") will only grow to a height of 4 feet. Native to the rain-forest regions of Guatemala, the parlor palm will tolerate low light conditions. It does, however, require evenly moist soil and a daily misting to raise humidity levels.