Many of the most popular houseplants are of tropical origin. The conditions they need to survive are replications of their native habitat: proper light, warm temperatures, proper water and high humidity. If these growing conditions are provided, most tropical plants will thrive as houseplants. A few tropical plants do have specific needs when they are grown indoors. Meet their needs, and they will reward you with lush growth.
Crotons are native to Malaysia, other Pacific Islands and India. They grow wild in rainforest climates, where temperatures are always warm and the humidity is high. Crotons have very brightly colored leaves that occur in a variety of colors and colored patterns. Yellow, red and orange are common colors in the patterned foliage. The intensity of the foliage color is affected by light intensity. Moderate light produces the best color. Provide crotons with warm temperatures and high humidity. Misting is advisable if your home has dry winter air. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, or the plants may develop rot. New leaves appear green at first, and then develop color as they mature. Leaves in a vase of water will develop roots, but they will not grow into new plants. New plants will grow from rooted stem cuttings.
Bromeliads are unusual members of the plant world. They are epiphytes, plants that grow without soil. In their native tropical rain forests, bromeliads attach to trees. They anchor themselves by growing epiphytic roots, or hold-fast roots, that grow into tiny crevices and anchor the plant. Secure a new bromeliad plant to a host. A host can be a piece of cork, section of bark, or slab of wood. Support the bromeliad in place so the tender root tips have a chance to anchor to the host material. Water the plant and the host material often. Do not allow the tiny roots to dry out.
Some bromeliads are "Tank" type. They are cup-shaped so they can retain water. If you grow tank type bromeliads indoors, allow the water the plant holds to stand for a short time only. It should never stagnate. Dump out the old water, and pour new water over the plant to rinse it. Allow some water to collect again each time you rinse the plant.
Bird of Paradise
Tropical Bird of Paradise plants have been cultivated for centuries. Native to tropical areas of Africa, they look like banana plants until they bloom. Then the flower stalks are revealed, displaying the unusual flowers. The flowers are brightly colored, usually orange and red-orange with blue or violet. The shape of the flowers is reminiscent of a bird's head. Bird of Paradise plants need plenty of bright light to bloom indoors. They are heavy feeders and should be fertilized every two weeks. Young plants may not bloom for a few years. Potbound plants tend to bloom more readily than those that are repotted regularly.