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21 Common Types of Tropical Houseplants You Should Know (with Photos)

Types of tropical houseplant.

If you live in year-round humidity like I do then you’re already one step closer to feeling like you’re in the tropics. But tropical houseplants add something extra to your home.

Tropical plants are easy to maintain indoors if you know what they need whether that’s sunlight, water, or insects. And according to research, maybe some light conversation. Here’s a list of several interesting tropical plants to get you started.

1. Bird Of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Bird of paradise plant.

Birds of Paradise are also commonly called crane flowers. These plants can be grown indoors but require between 4 and 6 hours of full sunlight to bloom. Water your Bird of Paradise every 1 to 2 weeks and be sure the soil is dry between watering.

Birds of Paradise plants don’t need much of an introduction. They are beautiful and brightly colored plants that can invoke the feeling of being on a tropical island. The name says it all!

2. Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

Norfolk Island Pine plant.

For this tropical plant, you want to avoid direct sunlight. The Norfolk Island Palm is a tropical plant, so it does well in humidity, but be mindful to keep it away from cold and windy drafts. While these plants tolerate a lot of water, excess water must be drained easily for it to grow well. You may water it less during the winter months.

The Norfolk Island Pine is a steady growing type of evergreen and it’s one of the easiest tropical plants to grow indoors. 

3. Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

Jade plant in a white pot with pebbles.

To bring out the best in your Jade plant, keep it indoors where it gets access to a bit of direct sunlight, at least six hours daily. When your plant is young you should avoid keeping it in direct sunlight. However, it can tolerate direct sunlight much better as it grows and becomes better established.

Watering your Jade plant once or twice a week is sufficient. Because Jade plants are succulents, there is a risk of giving them too much water. Avoid doing this by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Succulents might make you think about the desert, but Jade plants are actually tropical succulents rather than desert cacti, although the two may be cousins.

4. India Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica robusta)

India Rubber Fig plant.

Rubber fig plants love brightly lit rooms and a lot of sunlight. However, keep your India Fig away from direct sunlight as this can burn your plant’s leaves.

The soil ought to feel damp to the touch. You can water your India Rubber Fig once a week and spritz the leaves with water as well. During winter, you can spread out the times you give it water to once every 2 or 3 weeks.

The India Rubber Fig commonly found in parts of southeast Asia does well indoors if given proper care. Although it’s considered a tropical plant, it also grows well in low humidity.

5. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena braunii)

Lucky Bamboo plant in a pot.

Keep your lucky bamboo in a bright room where it can get plenty of indirect sunlight. Lucky Bamboo typically can do well in direct sunlight as well, but may grow too large for the environment.

Too much water is bad for the Lucky Bamboo. Watering it about once a week is fine. Essentially, you want the soil to be not too wet and not too dry.

Lucky Bamboo plants are tropical plants that grow nicely in warm temperatures. Keeping your indoor environment at 60 degrees F or more is best.

6. Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

Snake plants in a pots.

Snake plants tend to grow better and faster in warm temperatures with exposure to plenty of bright sunlight. However, they are generally a slow-growing plant that flowers in the spring. Unfortunately, this particular type of snake plant rarely blooms indoors.

Too much water can cause the roots to rot. So it’s best to water your snake plant about once every 10 days to 2 weeks. During the winter you can water it once every month or so.

The snake plant may be shy, but you may be able to get this tropical plant to bloom with the right care. To increase your odds of experiencing its fragrant flowers, keep your plant root bound while allowing it exposure to lots of direct, bright sunlight.

7. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Miller)

An Aloe Vera plant in the garden.

Aloe Vera plants typically need about 6 hours of indirect sunlight as direct sunlight can burn its leaves. Water your plant every 2 weeks and allow the soil to dry before watering again. During winter, Aloe Vera plants are dormant and may be watered once a month, or once every 4 weeks.

There are around 400 different varieties of Aloe Vera plants but the Barbadensis Miller is one of the most common types and you can easily grow this tropical plant indoors. What’s neat is that the aloe leaves contain a gel that has cooling properties and may be used to soothe minor burns.

8. Devil’s Ivy (Pothos)

A Devil’s Ivy plant in a pot.

Indirect sunlight is best to keep the Devil’s Ivy growing to its fullest. You can recognize when your plant needs more sunlight by paying close attention to the color of its leaves. The paler the leaves, the more light you ought to give it. You may also use plant food once per month to keep it growing strong.

While you don’t want Devil’s Ivy to get too dry, keeping it on the drier side is better than oversaturating it. As a general rule, wait until the first two inches of soil are dry before giving it more water.

Devil’s Ivy is a cool plant to have indoors to get a tropical feel. The plant naturally grows in all directions and can get really long, making you feel like you’re in a tropical jungle. In tropical rainforests, this plant climbs up and around trees, so it’s a great plant to hang in your home and let it do what it does best.

9. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)

A Swiss Cheese plant in a weaven pots.

Because it grows underneath the shadiness of large trees in its native environment, the swiss cheese plant does best in indirect sunlight when it’s grown indoors. You can set it in a corner or behind a sheer window curtain. If it is exposed to direct sunlight, be sure it gets not more than only a few hours per day.

Water the plant moderately once per week during its growing season. During the winter and fall months you can reduce this amount. Typically, you want to wait until the top of the soil is dry before watering it again.

10. African Violets (Saintpaulia Ionantha)  

A African Violets plant with flower in a pot.

African Violets won’t bloom in a dimly lit room. Set a piece of paper under the plant for a full day and check to see if you see a shadow cast at any point. If you don’t see a distinct shadow, then the plant isn’t getting the light it needs. However, be sure that you don’t overwhelm your African Violet with too much direct sunlight. You can place it behind sheer curtains to minimize direct exposure.

Use lukewarm water to water your plant once the surface of the soil feels dry. African Violets are especially sensitive to overwatering, so it’s best to plant them in a pot with a drainage hole. Stillwater is especially toxic to the roots of African Violets.

African Violets, although not actually violets, can be found growing in the mountains of Tanzania. They thrive in rainforests, which makes them the perfect tropical plant to grow indoors. 

11. Fishtail Palm (Caryota)

A Fishtail Palm leaves hanging in the wall.

It’s best to keep your Fishtail Palm in indirect and bright sunlight, allowing it to soak up around 4 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.

During the spring and summer months, Fishtail Palms require watering at least once per week. During the time that the plant is dormant in the winter, you can reduce the amount of water to only twice per month. You may spray the leaves when the weather is dry and hot, which helps to keep them cool and eliminate pests.

12. Spiny Black Olive Tree (Brucida Spinosa)

Spiny Black Olive Tree plant with flowers.

In the summer, black olive trees need full sun exposure. During the winter, as an indoor plant, keep the full light coming and maintain the temperature at or below 64 degrees F without allowing it to fall below 40 degrees F.

Maintain your black olive tree’s hydration by keeping the soil constantly damp. Don’t soak it, though. Generally, you want to water a black olive tree once a week for the first year and once it’s better established, then watering may be reduced to once a month.

13. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

A Chinese Evergreen plant in a pot.

Chinese evergreens are easy to grow as long as they are kept out of direct sunlight. Medium to bright sunlight is best and it will ensure that the flashy markings on the plant’s leaves will stay bright and lively.

To know that you are giving your Chinese evergreen plenty of water, ensure that the soil is kept just barely damp at all times. As with many plants on this list, this tropical plant needs adequate water drainage. So keep it planted inside an appropriate pot where the water will not accumulate and damage the plant’s roots. 

14. Winterbourne (Xanadu Philodendron)

A Winterbourne plant in the garden.

The Winterbourne Philodendron needs indirect sunlight. To keep your plant in the best possible condition, keep it in an area that will allow it to receive adequate amounts of medium to bright sunlight. While this plant is highly adaptable and can live in low light, it may grow much slower.

To maintain proper moisture levels, you can feel the soil. When the top of the soil is at max 75% dry and at least 50% dry, then you know it’s ready for a drink. Keep watering until the water seeps through the pot’s drainage hole and be sure to discard any excess water to avoid rotting roots.

15. Amazonian Elephant Ear (Alocasia X Amazonica)

Amazonian Elephant Ear in a pot.

The Amazonian Elephant Ear is able to survive in mostly shady areas of your home. However, in order for it to grow its very best, you’ll need to keep it somewhere where it can receive at least 20% sunlight, 40% at best.

During the growing season in the non-winter months, Elephant Ears need lots of water, so keeping the soil moist at all times is vital for them to grow well. A general rule of thumb is to water this plant daily, keeping it hydrated with 2 to 3 inches of water per week. During the off season, in the winter, you can reduce the amount to around 1 inch of water per week.

16. Zz Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)

A Zz plant in a pot.

The ideal amount of sunlight to give your Zz plant is around 12 hours. Typically, this is a good amount and indirect sunlight is best. Be careful not to over water this plant to the point where the potting soil is constantly soaked. Usually, watering your Zz plant once every 7 to 14 days is sufficient.

This tropical perennial plant grows pretty slowly and is a native plant to parts of eastern Africa. You can find the Zz plant in areas from southern Kenya all the way to the northeastern parts of South Africa. 

17. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

A Peace Lily plant in the garden.

Peace lilies do well in indirect sunlight and low lit areas of the room. Too much sun may burn the ends of the leaves. How do you know if your Peace Lily is thirsty? The leaves will become a bit droopy when they need water, so keep your plant hydrated by watering it at least once a week. Additionally, you may spray some light, misty water on its leaves. 

18. Areca (Dypsis Lutescens)

An Areca plant in a pot.

Give your Areca plant around 6 hours of indirect sunlight by keeping it in a low lit window sill or sun-bearing corner. An Areca plant generally needs watering about once every week at most and once every ten days during fall and winter.

19. Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea Muscipula)

A colorful Venus Fly Trap plant.

This interesting plant needs plenty of sunlight and full sun exposure brings out the bright red coloring inside its “mouth”. In the shade they’ll remain mostly green. Venus Fly Traps are tropical plants and so they love the high humid temperatures. Additionally, they need lots of water. Water your Venus Fly Trap everyday to keep it satisfied.

Venus Fly Traps eat small bugs and flies. However, they actually don’t need them to survive. Still, this plant is quite the calculated little insect killer. Venus Fly Traps have a 5 touch count before their prey no longer sees the light of day. Once an object touches the plant 5 times, its inner glands receive a signal to begin making the digestive enzymes to eat its victim. 

20. Spoonleaf Sundew (Drosera Intermedia)

A Spoonleaf Sundew plant in the garden.

If you’re fond of plants that eat the gnats and flies around your home, then you might consider caring for a Spoonleaf Sundew. A sort of snaggle-toothed version of the Venus Fly Trap, the Spoonleaf Sundew requires around 13 to 15 hours of sun exposure in a well-lit room. Keep in mind that this plant also requires distilled water, or pure water. So try to avoid tap water or spring water as it may be too acidic and not good for it.

21. Tropical Pitcher (Nepenthes)

A Tropical Pitcher plant with butterfly.

The third insectivorous plant on this list is the Tropical Pitcher. These plants need about 8 to 12 hours of indirect sunlight per day. They thrive best in humid and warm areas. You can feed them mealworms and crickets.

When the air is less humid, you can water your Tropical Pitcher once every 3 to 4 days. However, be sure not to let the soil run dry because it’s not good for these types of plants. Tropical Pitchers are an odd bunch.

This tropical plant eats bugs but, unlike the Fly Trap and the Spoonleaf, the Pitcher is shaped like a bell. A bug is attracted to the plant’s sweet scent and is lured into the bell-shaped trap. Inside, digestive juices turn the bug into a snack.