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Tropical Plants

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How to Root Aralia Plant Cuttings

Aralia or Ming aralia are tropical plants native to southeast Asia, Pacific islands and the Caribbean. They are popular for their lush foliage. In cool climates they can be grown as indoor plants, and in warm climates where temperatures rarely go below 40 degrees they do well as outdoor shade plants.

Cut stems 8-10 inches long from a mature aralia plant during the summer when the temperature is above 72 degrees.

Remove the leaves from the bottom 1-to-2 inches of the stem. This will encourage the plant to put its energy into producing roots.

Dip the ends of the stems into rooting hormone powder then shake gently to remove excess.

Fill a small flower pot all the way to the top with sterile potting soil.

Place the stem 3 inches into the potting soil. Lightly tamp the soil around the stem, just enough to hold it in place.

Water the soil to moisten it. Do not soak it as Aralia thrives in a moist environment not a wet one.

Place a plastic bag over the plant and pot. This will create a humid environment similar to aralia's native environment, encouraging fast root development. Roots should appear in 7-to-10 days.

How to Care for Brazilian Fireworks Plants

Position your Brazilian fireworks plant in bright indirect light or shade, but not in full or direct sunlight. Maintain ambient air temperatures around the plant of 75 to 85 degrees.

Water your Brazilian fireworks plant two or three times per week to keep the soil evenly moistened at all times. Don’t allow the soil to dry out.

Feed your fireworks plant once each month with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer made for flowering indoor plants. Follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Mist the Brazilian fireworks plant daily during the drier winter months to keep the air humid around the plant. You can also set the pot on top of a dish filled with gravel and water.


If you live in a tropical or semi-tropical climate, you can plant the Brazilian fireworks plant outdoors in a shaded location. Space the plants about 8 to 12 inches apart.


Don’t expose your Brazilian fireworks plant to temperatures colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit, even during winter, because the plant will die.

Tropical Flowers of Jamaica

Wood of Life

This flower is Jamaica's national flower, which grows on the wood, or tree, of life. This tree is made of one of the densest woods in the world that actually sinks, instead of floats in water like most woods. The flowers from this tree grow in clusters of blue and white, with five petals on each small flower and long, hair-like stamen emerging from the center of the blossom, which goes by its Latin name, Lignum vitae. Later, these flowers turn into small, orange fruit.


The hibiscus flower is an iconic representation of all things tropical. These flowers are large, bright blooms that can come in a number of different colors, including red, white, pink and yellow. This flower can be grown indoors, but is wild in Jamaica.


There are over 200 varieties of orchid that grow wild in Jamaica. Orchids are unique because they sprout from the branches of other plants like trees and has large blooms that can come in colors like white, yellow, peach and pink.


The bromeliad is a tropical plant found in many warm, humid countries including the Jamaican rainforests. It has a distinct flower that looks like a cluster of pointy-shaped leaves and comes in bright colors like red and purple. The leaves of this plant are often serrated, and in some types of bromeliads the petals of the flower are serrated as well.

Savanna Plant Adaptation

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Fire 11 image by Valeriy Kirsanov from

Many of the world's savannas exist partly or wholly because of fire, whether sparked by lightning or intentionally set by human beings. In the Intermountain West of North America, ponderosa pine forms savannas and open woodlands between steppe and higher conifer forests, partially maintained by wildfire. The old, thick-barked pines withstands many blazes, while seedlings readily colonize fresh-burnt territory.

Grazing Pressure

kenya image by TEMISTOCLE LUCARELLI from

Many savanna plants deal with heavy grazing pressure, as in certain savannas of the world, tropical versions in Africa and India for example, a great diversity of grazing and browsing mammals exist. Savanna grasses often afford to be munched to the soil, resprouting leaves from their subterranean growing points.

Moisture Stress

Baobab before the sunset image by Elzbieta Sekowska from

Plants in both tropical and temperate savannas often contend with moisture limitations. Many tropical savannas experience annual dry seasons where rainfall is scant or nonexistent. In Africa, the baobab, a common tree of savannas and open woodlands, only leafs out during the rainy season. Many grasses reserve energy underground during the dry season, only greening when the rains come.

Parasitic Tropical Rainforest Plants

new zealand rainforest image by Spencer Stoner from

Rafflesia arnoldii

Rafflesia arnoldii grows on the floor of the tropical rainforest and is parasitic to rainforest lianas, or vines. It has the largest flower of any species, which gives off the aroma of rotting flesh that attracts flies to assist in pollination. The plant consists of threadlike growths on its host vine, Tetrastigma, from which it draws all its nourishment. Rafflesia arnoldii has no leaves, stem or roots, but it produces a huge flower that can be over a meter in width. This strange plant is found in rainforests of Malaysia.

Thonningia sanguinea

Thonningia sanguinea lives on the floor of African tropical rainforests, producing rose-red flowers that stand out among the darkness of its leaves. The bright hue of the plant attracts its insect pollinators. It survives by obtaining its nutrition from surrounding trees and shrubs. The extracts of flowers of Thonningia sanguinea are used in traditional medicine in the Ivory Coast to treat diarrheal diseases.

Rainforest Mistletoe

Rainforest mistletoe is a partial parasite, obtaining all its water and nutrients from a host tree while carrying out photosynthesis through its leaves. The plant grows in the top canopy layer of the rainforest, producing large red flowers, and can be found in tropical rainforests in Australia. The mistletoe propagates by attracting the mistletoe bird that feeds on its berries. The bird only eats the soft part of the fruit, dispersing the seed through its droppings onto trees, which become new hosts to growing seedlings.

Homemade Tropical Potting Soil

Combine one part potting soil and one part peat moss together. Use purchased, sterile potting soil or reuse soil from your garden. Remove any roots or nondecomposed organic matter from the garden soil prior to mixing.

Place the soil and peat moss into a disposable roasting pan if you are using garden soil. Sprinkle water on the soil to moisten it, then bake at 180 degrees F for 1 hour. This kills any weed seeds or disease organisms present in the soil.

Mix 1 part perlite in with the soil and peat moss. Peat moss provides organic matter and helps retain moisture, while perlite prevents the soil from becoming overly damp.

Fertilize the soil prior to planting. Mix 2 oz. agricultural limestone and 3 tbsp. 6-6-6 analysis fertilizer to every 4 gallons of potting mix. Add 2 oz. superphosphate fertilizer if you are growing flowering tropical plants.


Perlite and peat moss are available from garden centers.

Substitute shredded pine bark for up to half the peat moss if desired. Shredded pine bark has many of the same qualities as peat but is less expensive.

Store unused potting soil in a sealed container so it doesn't become contaminated during storage.


Do not bake perlite when sterilizing soil. Perlite produces fluoride when heated and can contaminate the soil.

How to Water Tropical Plants

Find out how much water your tropical plants need. Some tropicals are used to swamp-like conditions and need constantly wet soil while tropical succulents need much less water as they are more drought tolerant, according to Colorado State University.

Check the soil moisture around your tropical plant. Place the moisture meter in the plant and look at the reading. If it reads “dry” water the plant. If it reads “moist” or “wet” you will not have to water the plant unless it likes excessively wet soil.

Water the tropical plants until water runs out of the bottom of their containers or, if grown in the ground, until the soil is moist.


Only water tropical plants when they need to be watered.

Growing Tropical Plants in a Greenhouse

Establish a greenhouse environment where the temperature remains between 65 and 85.

Fertilize greenhouse plants weekly using a water soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength.

Trim dead leaves from plants and keep the greenhouse clean of all dead plant material to prevent disease.

Watch carefully for greenhouse pests, since they can be difficult to control. Common pests are spider mites, white flies, aphids and mealy bugs. Isolate any plants that might have pests or disease.

Water tropical plants regularly, as the warm consistent greenhouse temperatures may cause soil to dry out more quickly.

Tropical Plants and Tolerable Temperature Ranges

tropical plant image by photazz from


Tropical plants sustain damage when exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Illinois Extension website. Bring tropical plants indoors before temperatures fall below 60 degrees or store them somewhere with a constant temperature between 55 and 60 degrees until cold weather passes.


Sub-tropical plants do not normally do well in temperatures below freezing. They can be acclimated to withstand near-freezing temperatures over a period of time, however, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension website. Acclimation works best when the temperature decrease is gradual and steady.


In areas where tropical plants may not be grown due to climate issues, gardeners may grow many such plants in containers indoors. Most houseplants actually originate from tropical or sub-tropical regions, according to the Smithsonian Institution website.

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