At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are the Different Types of Tropical Houseplants?

Dakota Davis
Dakota Davis

Both beautiful and unusual, tropical houseplants are a popular selection for home decoration. They can be a challenge to grow indoors, however, because they are native to warm and humid climates. In conditions with proper sunlight, warmth, and moisture, several varieties—like the bird of paradise, silver queen, and ginger—can survive and even thrive. A number tropical houseplants have proven to be resilient and adaptable enough to flourish indoors.

In areas with ample sunlight, tropical houseplants like bird of paradise will thrive. A favorite because of its distinctive flower, it can be grown indoors during the winter and moved outside in warmer months to promote blooming. The durable Pothos vine also grows well in sunlight, which causes its heart-shaped leaves to become more variegated. Pothos can survive in darker areas as well, reproduces easily from cuttings and will grow voraciously without any support.

Houseplant fertilizer.
Houseplant fertilizer.

If sun exposure is limited, bamboo is a practical selection to grow indoors. Available in hundreds of varieties, there is a bamboo plant that will survive in nearly every climate, although larger-leafed varieties generally require more light. Sansevieria, called Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law's Tongue, is a succulent with sword shaped leaves and highly fragrant blooms that also thrives in variable light.

Elephant ears are considered decorative in the Americas, but are commonly grown as food crops in Asian countries.
Elephant ears are considered decorative in the Americas, but are commonly grown as food crops in Asian countries.

Ginger grows indigenously under canopy, and makes an obvious choice as a tropical houseplant. Known for the culinary and medicinal benefits of its root, ginger has ribbed green leaves and may produce fragrant flowers or spicy foliage. The beautiful Peace Lily is similarly durable, and also thrives in shade. If can endure both too much and too little water with little effect and rejuvenates quickly.

The epitome of low-maintenance, other tropical houseplants need little light and rely on moisture for survival, like the Dracaena Marginata. This palm-like plant has long, thin, green leaves with red or pink edges and offers plenty of tropical appeal. The Silver Queen can also tolerate significant neglect with the exception of cold temperatures. It has oval shaped leaves known for their unusual silver and dark green markings, and is often called the most forgiving tropical house plant.

Some tropical houseplants are not recommended, although they're very well known. Elephant ears may be poisonous to children or pets, while orchids are considered to be temperamental and hard to maintain. Tropical palms and ivies are also popular, but tend to be extremely susceptible to pests like spider mites, which can then destroy other houseplants.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I remember my Mom having a rubber plant for as long as I can think of. That plant must be over 50 years old! I think she got it from her Mom!

I was always fascinated with that plant, but have never tried growing one myself. I would like to grow a bamboo plant. I read that they are easy to take care of and grow quickly. I don't have much of a green thumb, so think I might be able to handle that.

I like plants that are easy to take care of and can handle frequent periods of not getting watered!


I have a hard time walking past the succulent section of the store without stopping and looking at all the beautiful tropical flowers! I love indoor house plants, but especially like those that are tropical. I don't know if it is because they seem more exotic or because of the bright colored flowers, but they always cheer me up!

I usually choose those that have bright flowers or unusual leaves. Sometimes I don't have the best luck growing them, but they are usually very inexpensive, so I will just try another one!

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Houseplant fertilizer.
      By: Marek
      Houseplant fertilizer.
    • Elephant ears are considered decorative in the Americas, but are commonly grown as food crops in Asian countries.
      By: Le Do
      Elephant ears are considered decorative in the Americas, but are commonly grown as food crops in Asian countries.