Big Leaf Tropical Plants
Big leafed tropical plants, can add interest to a room as a focal point. The larger the leaves and the more exotic the plant appears, the more attention grabbing it will be. Because they do originate in the tropics, big-leaf tropical plants may be slightly more difficult to grow than other houseplants. Usually, a little misting to increase humidity is all that is required, although there are some that will require a terrarium or greenhouse environment. It is a small price to pay for all the beauty and enjoyment that you will get from growing big-leaf tropical plants.
Anthriums come in several varieties, with heart-shaped leaves that span from 8 inches up to 2 feet. They are not easy to acquire, and can run on the expensive side, with the flowering species being the most likely located. Their waxy, exotic blooms in reds and oranges last from spring into late summer. These tropical plants are moderately difficult to grow under ordinary room conditions, but they do take well to the warm, moist conditions of a terrarium or solarium. A spa, or indoor pool area would also suit them well, providing there is plenty of sunlight available.
The large, attractive leaves of aphelandra (also known as zebra plants) are glossy green with silvery veins, and they grow 8 to 9 inches long. These tropical delights will withstand normal room temperatures for several months, but if left too long, they will become leggy and leafless. Provide plenty of moisture through frequent misting, feed regularly, keep soil damp, but not soggy, and keep them warm during the winter months.
Unlike begonias that are grown for their bright, beautiful flowers, foliage begonias are grown for their eye-catching foliage, which comes in many shapes, sizes and colors, depending on the individual species. The rex begonia has asymmetrical, heart-shaped leaves, 6 to 12 inches long, in a variety of colors: B. rex 'Her Majesty' leaves are pink, peach and brown; B. rex 'Yuletide' has shades of pink, peach, yellow and tan; B. rex 'Silver Queen' blends shades of green from almost white to a dark, forest green around the edges; and B. rex 'Merry Christmas' is covered in hues of red, pink, yellow and green.
Metallic leaf begonia has large, metallic green foliage, with purple veins. Iron cross begonia has deeply puckered, 6-inch leaves, with the dark green inner cross pattern contrasting nicely with the lighter green border.
The long, arching, variegated leaves of red pineapple (Ananas bracteatus stratiatus) are brightly striped in red, yellow and green, growing 1 to 2 feet in height. In the Bromeliad family, these tropical plants require temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, a brightly lit location and misting for extra humidity through the summer months. They are best suited for a greenhouse atmosphere.
Philodendrons and Monsteras
The big, shiny leaves of these humongous tropical plants make philodendrons and monsteras perfect choices for large, beautiful foliage. Their glossy or velvety green leaves can span over 2 feet in indoor growing conditions. With so many varieties of the species, they show a wide variety of foliage shapes and hues: red, purple and dark to light-green leaves are displayed on glossy, heart-shaped, or split, palm-like leaves.
- “The Houseplant Expert”; Dr. D.G. Hessayon; 1993.