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How to Care for Tropical Plants

By Tanya Khan ; Updated September 21, 2017

Tropical plants serve as beautiful accent pieces both indoors and outside. Native to warm, shady and moist climates such as those in the tropical jungle, these plants thrive well in shady places, which is why they are usually kept indoors in homes and offices. Not only do they decorate a spot, the interesting foliage stands out to attract attention as well. Tropical plants include dieffenbachia, peace lily, elephant ear plants and palm trees. With a little effort and extra care, your tropical plants will grow healthy and thrive for years.

Put your tropical plant in a proper container. A container that is too large can cause root rot, while a container that is too small prevents the roots of the plant from spreading, thus staggering its growth and health. Keep your tropical plant in the same size container, or slightly larger than the one you purchased it in.

Water your plant with rainwater whenever possible. Place a bucket or several pans in the rain to collect water. This is the best water for tropical plants. If you live in an area where it doesn't rain, pour tap water into a watering can or pitcher and let it set overnight so any harmful chemicals evaporate.

Water the plants frequently so the soil is evenly moist at all times. Keep in mind, however, that overwatering is as harmful as under watering. While you should not douse the plant with water, allowing the soil to dry up may cause the delicate tropical plant to dry. To test whether your plant needs water, poke your finger 2 inches deep in the soil. If your finger comes out dry, it is time to water.

Keep your plants in a warm and humid area with temperatures around 70 degrees. Tropical plants are very delicate and succumb to the cold easily if they are placed in drafty or air conditioned rooms. Put the tropical plant under the shade of an awning or tree if you place it outside, since direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Place indoor tropical plants near a window that gets at least five to seven hours of curtain filtered sunlight.

Mist the foliage of your tropical plants frequently, every three to four days. This keeps the plants hydrated and keeps pests such as spider mites away.

Fertilize the plant with liquid fertilizer once every four to six weeks from spring to early fall, when it is actively growing. Use 30-10-10 ratio for foliage plants, and 15-30-15 for blooming plants. Check the label instructions for directions and precautions prior to application. Make sure you taper off feeding when the plant is dormant, to once or twice from November to March.


Things You Will Need

  • Tropical plant
  • Container
  • Watering can
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid fertilizer


  • If the inside of your home or office is dry due to air conditioning, place a small bowl of water near the tropical plant.

About the Author


Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written numerous articles for various online and print sources. She has a Master of Business Administration in marketing but her passion lies in writing.