Tropical Foliage Plants

Tropical foliage plants bring a hint of the jungle to your garden. Huge, shiny leaves and bold, brilliant foliage create striking visual impact. Tropicals usually cannot withstand cool winter temperatures, so either grow them as annuals or protect them indoors during the winter. Sunshine, heat, humidity and heavy rainfall triggers growth in tropical plants. Rapidly-growing leaves will fill a garden in July and August when it starts to get too hot for the other plants. Keep your tropical plants in their containers to make it more convenient to move them to their winter home.

Dumb Cane

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia amoena) is a spreading tropical plant that grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves are oval with a creamy rib down the center. Small, white-and-green flowers blossom, but are not very noticeable. As dumb cane grows taller, the bottom leaves fall off. This foliage plant is 1 to 2 feet wide when mature. Let the soil dry to the touch between waterings. Keeping dumb cane wet for too long of a time period will cause root rot. Dumb cane adapts to nearly any environment. Be aware that the sap of the dumb cane is toxic and will cause the soft tissues of the mouth to swell up.

False Aralia

False aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima) is also known as threadleaf. The leaves of the false aralia are green with a tint of red, and narrow with jagged edges. This upright tropical plant reaches 5 feet in height and 2 feet in width. False aralia enjoys bright, indirect light. Let the soil dry to the touch between waterings. This plant attracts spider mites if placed in a hot, dry location.

Prayer Plant

Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) comes in a variety of leaf colors and patterns. The foliage consists of oblong leaves that are 4 to 8 inches long. These leaves are commonly variegated in green colors with a dark-colored pattern down the leaf. The pattern looks like small animal prints across the face of the leaf. Occasionally, white flowers appear throughout the year. In low light levels, the prayer plant rolls up its leaves. This habit is typically observed at night. This low-growing plant reaches a height of 2 feet, and is often used as a groundcover.

Keywords: tropical plants, foliage plants, tropical foliage

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.