27 Tropical Houseplants for a Lush Indoor Garden

A list of tropical plants is all about leaves, although you will find quite a few in this list that flower, too. The key to keeping tropical plants indoors is to mimic their origin, which is easy enough to do indoors. This means the choice of plants we can have as houseplants is extensive. In this article, plant expert Wendy Moulton explores some fabulous and fascinating tropical plants you have to have on your shopping list.

White pots line a sunlit windowsill, their clean surfaces gleaming. Inside each pot, vibrant orchids bloom, displaying a palette of purple, white, and pink petals, accentuated by lush green foliage.

You don’t have to live in the balmy, hot tropics to enjoy a jungle of exotic plants. Turn your home into a colorful tropical oasis with these unique and rare indoor houseplants!



A gray ceramic pot sits on a round table, cradling an elegant Alocasia plant with vibrant green leaves. In the background, a blurred shelf and wooden stool create a cozy atmosphere.
New alocasia hybrids boast striking leaf forms and colors.

The fantastic selections of the elephant ear plant group deserve a place in any houseplant collection. Modern varieties of alocasia beckon gardeners with their startling leaf forms and colors. There are a lot of dark brooding black and dark forest greens in the coloring of the new hybrids that are magnets for plant buyers. Who can resist a plant that has it all and black stems or black leaves with silver veins that contrast so well with other houseplants?

Their ancestors come from the tropical Amazon, where temperatures are high and humidity even higher, so they love moisture and need evenly moist soil and filtered bright light to thrive. If you can make a corner of your home into a mini rainforest, then these tropical beauties will be very happy.


A close-up of philodendron foliage, showcasing deep green leaves. Among them, a single leaf commands attention with its unique blend of colors, displaying a striking contrast between its verdant green and delicate pink halves.
‘Prince of Orange’ and ‘Pink Princess’ philodendrons thrive in moist, warm conditions.

From small to big leaves, there is a philodendron for every room in the home. These tough houseplants are super easy to grow and can either fill a space or cascade down a shelf with various leaf colors, shapes, and forms, including the ever-popular heart-shaped varieties.

There are nearly 500 varieties of this species, with more coming onto the market daily. The Princes and Princesses of the plant world, look out for ‘Prince of Orange’ and ‘Pink Princess’ to really add a splash of color to your surroundings. Each leaf that pokes out from the central stem is a new experience in coloring.

Philodendrons are tropical plants, so they will love moisture and a higher temperature, but research each plant for specific requirements as they are all a bit different.


An anthurium plant with green leaves and vibrant red flowers thrives in a quaint brown pot, adding a touch of nature's elegance to the scene. Behind it, a cozy gray armchair beckons, promising relaxation amidst the verdant beauty.
The anthuriums are popular indoor plants with long-lasting waxy spathes.

The beautiful anthurium, also known as laceleaf or flamingo flower, is a member of the Araceae (arum) family native to tropical environments. The waxy spathes last a long time on the plants, making them one of the best flowering indoor plants you can find.

Red is the preferred color you will find commonly, but look out for new vibrant colors coming onto the market in variations that are attractive and easy to add to a shopping trolley.

These South American tropical plants need light to thrive but not so much that the leaves become scorched. Regular water and a balanced fertilizer will keep them looking their best. When they look a bit scrappy in a couple of years, they will be easy enough to propagate to get more plants.

Adiantum Ferns

A red pot contrasts against the clean white surface, adding a pop of color to the serene corner. Nestled within the pot, delicate adiantum ferns gracefully unfurl their intricate fronds, adding a touch of nature's elegance to the space.
Maidenhair ferns thrive in humid environments with filtered light.

Commonly called maidenhair ferns, these pretty lacy-leaved ferns are soft-looking yet tough and durable as houseplants as long as they get what they need. As with other tropical plants, they are happy in highly humid and moist environments, and most growers will agree that once a maidenhair fern has dried out, it’s almost impossible to revive it.

Avoid letting the plant dry out, but don’t let it become waterlogged, either. Moisture balance is the key to long-lasting maidenhair ferns. Add a good dose of filtered light and feed once a month in the growing season. They are so pretty that keeping them alive is worth a little effort.


A bromeliad plant with lush green foliage contrasted against a pristine white background. Its slender leaves gracefully arch upwards, leading the eye to the majestic pink flowers that tower above.
Colorful bromeliads like Guzmanias are ideal indoor plants needing frequent moisture.

In the Bromeliad family, many different types of colorful plants can be grown indoors with some success. Watch out for the spikey-leaved ones and instead go for the Guzmania or Vriesea species as houseplants because they are thornless yet lovely and colorful.

Guzmanias, in particular, have little tufts of leaves poking out from the center of the leaves in vibrant yellow, orange, pink, and red – a colorful celebration of their Caribbean origin.

The epiphytes are grown in containers indoors and planted in the same mixture as you would for orchids. They like lots of moisture and daily spritzing in the spring and summer months. Feed at this time every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer.


A potted umbrella tree sits gracefully in a sunlit white kitchen, its vibrant green leaves adding a touch of nature to the interior. Beyond the windows, a blurred backdrop reveals a lush expanse of verdant foliage.
This tropical houseplant thrives with infrequent watering and bi-monthly feeding.

Although a bit old-fashioned now with all the new varieties on the market, the umbrella tree is still an excellent tropical houseplant with its pretty fireworks-shaped glossy leaves.

There are some dwarf varieties and variegated ones that make for attractive alternatives. Like the other tropical plants on the list, this one doesn’t need as much water, but it’s best to leave it to dry out before watering again to prevent overwatering. They like feeding twice a month during the summer growing season and bright indirect light.


A well-lit living room features a vibrant potted Strelitzia plant boasting tall, slender stems and broad, lush leaves. Adjacent to it sits a cozy gray couch, inviting relaxation and comfort into the space with its modern elegance.
Highly sought-after Strelitzia reginae features glossy leaves and vibrant bird of paradise flowers.

The iconic South African Strelitzia reginae has become one of the most sought-after plants to have indoors, although, in their natural environment, they are outdoor plants. The large, glossy sword-shaped leaves accompanied by the bird of paradise flowers in orange and blue are what we look for in a houseplant.

They are large plants, requiring lots of light and average water. Plant it in a big enough container to be left for at least a few years; it does not like its roots disturbed and will sulk for years.

Strelitzia nicolai is a beautiful, lush tropical plant with white bird of paradise flowers for an even bigger indoor plant. In the wild, they can grow up to 30 feet tall, but confined to a container will be as big as the size of the container allows.


 Lush green leaves of a potted Monstera plant contrast beautifully against a clean white wall, creating a striking visual. Each leaf boasts intricate perforations and unique splits, adding an artistic and organic touch to the overall composition.
The variegated monstera is an iconic tropical plant originating in Central America.

A tropical list would not be complete without the iconic monstera in all its forms. The giant leaves make it. I have yet to find a plant lover who could resist the variegated monstera. Its white and green markings are captivating, although their price is ludicrous.

This giant vine originates in Central America and likes dappled shade, a large container, and plenty of water and humidity. Ensure this fast-growing plant has enough space to spread out those luscious Swiss cheese leaves.


A white potted Calathea plant, known for its intricate leaf patterns, rests gracefully atop a wooden chair. Surrounding it, an array of potted plants adds vibrancy and diversity to the natural tableau.
This plant exhibits personality by folding its leaves at night.

Calatheas are known for their exceptional leaf forms with patterns that will astound you. They like light but nowhere near direct sunlight, which will scorch the delicate leaves. If your plant packs its leaves up at night, then it is growing well and happy in its spot. They are similar to prayer-plants in this regard.

I tend to overwater mine, which they don’t like, but they also need a good dose of water. Most plants will be fine on a watering schedule altogether, not calatheas. They need checking often to ensure they have enough and have drained well before placing them back into pot covers or on trays. If you can get that right, then they are very rewarding houseplants. They have what I would call a personality when they fold up their leaves at night.


An orange pot displays a croton plant. Its leaves exhibit a striking contrast, with some showcasing hues of yellow and green, while others feature intense shades of red and black, creating a captivating visual display of color diversity.
These benefit from regular spritzing and biannual feeding for tropical-colored foliage.

Colorful waxy leaves are what crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) are all about. The colors are tropical, and the growing conditions must also mimic that. But the more sun they get, the more colorful the leaves, so a sunny window is best. Once they are in position and happy, try not to move them, as they can sulk and drop leaves.

Crotons like plenty of moisture, including humidity, so daily spritzing is good for them, and they can be fed twice in the growing season in spring and summer. Crotons tend to be large shrubs up to 8 feet tall in their natural environment, but indoors and in containers, they are significantly smaller.

African Violet

A vibrant African violet plant with round leaves and delicate purple flowers sits in a brown pot on a white windowsill, basking in soft sunlight. Its intricate beauty adds a touch of elegance to the room, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere.
The African violets are long-lived houseplants known for their colorful flowers.

As their name suggests, African violets are native to Africa, specifically from the tropical rainforests on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. They have been around for ages as houseplants. They are known for longevity and their pretty flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white nestled amongst a bed of furry leaves.

It was always on my list of things to do not to water the leaves of an African violet as it may cause them to rot. However, I was recently reprimanded by a person at an African violet society who said that was nonsense. I still treat my violets the same way and water them under the leaves, unwilling to take the chance of losing them, and make sure they drain well.

They like a filtered sunny position and make good windowsill plants because of their small size. So many new colors have been added to the range of hybrids, some with unusual flowers, but all with a charming look.


Bathed in the warmth of the sun, a potted cordyline plant graces the outdoor setting with its presence, its foliage rich with shades of brown. The abundance of leaves reflects the plant's healthy and thriving state.
These tropical plants thrive in high humidity and rainwater.

Cordylines are strong, sculptural tropical plants that contrast well with lacy-leaved and softer plants. They have cane-like stems and leaves that fall like a fountain. The leaves range from thin to fat and have color variations, often tinged with red.

In this list of tropical plants, cordylines are perhaps one of the most tropical-looking and easy to grow. The only thing is that they don’t much like tap water and will occasionally have brown tips on their leaves due to the chemicals in tap water. Rainwater is ideal. Like all other tropical plants, they prefer high humidity, high temperatures, and plenty of moisture. Avoid sudden drafts or cold.


A small dracaena plant with short trunks sits in a white pot atop a wooden chair, its vibrant green leaves reaching out gracefully. The chair is nestled among various potted plants, creating a charming botanical corner in the room.
Older varieties of dracaenas, such as Dracaena marginata, are easy to grow.

Various types of dracaenas make excellent houseplants. I am talking here specifically about the older varieties of dracaena, like Dracaena marginata (aka the dragon tree) with its thin starburst leaves and straight stems or Dracaena fragrans (corn plant) that have thicker leaves and thicker stems. These dracaenas are so easy to grow. Even a bit of stem in some water can result in more plants.

Like all tropical plants, they like water and humidity but are really so easy that you may have to have a schedule for dusting their leaves.

Other tropical indoor plants, like pleomele and sansevieria, have now been included in this group of plants.


Three white ceramic pots containing sansevieria plants rest neatly atop a wooden table. In the background, a blurred assortment of furniture, potted plants, and a serene blue wall create a cozy atmosphere.
Sansevieria plants originated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa and Asia.

We still call these tough succulent types of plants sansevieria, although technically, they are now part of the Dracaena family. They may, on a molecular level, be part of a new family, but by look, they are very different.

The succulent leaves are upright, and some variegated with colored edges. One would expect they are more desert-type plants, but most come from Africa and Asia’s tropical and subtropical zones.

They perform well in just about any conditions you throw at them but will do best with bright indirect light, plenty of moisture, and high temperatures and humidity. If the leaves start to shrivel, I’d say it’s time to start taking care of it.


A woven pot sits in sunlight, cradling a vibrant yucca plant. Against a white wall, the yucca casts a graceful shadow, adding depth to the scene and enhancing the plant's natural beauty.
This requires ample bright light to prevent weak growth indoors.

Just the name suggests it should be part of your plant family. Yuccas are a plant from the agave family and come from various regions, some tropical and some hot and dry.

Their name is a mistake, but it has stuck. The plant was initially confused with the edible cassava or manioc plant that is cultivated extensively in the Americas. The cassava is also called yuca, which is the Spanish word for yucca.

The tall stems with spiky leaves make excellent houseplants as long as they have the correct light. Yuccas will grow as weaklings should they not be given lots of bright light. They are tough plants that require limited water – just once a week in spring and summer.


A Spathiphyllum plant thrives in a white pot, showcasing lush green leaves and delicate white flowers. Against a backdrop of a white curtain and wall, its elegance stands out, offering a refreshing touch to the room's decor.
The peace lilies reward proper care with elegant blooms and foliage.

Peace lilies are on my list of favorite houseplants because they almost talk to you. If they need water, their leaves droop and quickly perk up again once you give them a drink. If you provide them with a dose of liquid plant food every two weeks in spring and summer, they reward you with white sails that float about the dark green leaves.

The bigger-leaved varieties like ‘Sensation’ are magnificent for foliage alone. Look out for beautiful variegated versions. They are useful for lower-light areas but will do better with plenty of bright light, just not direct sunlight.


A close-up of purple orchids highlights their delicate petals and intricate patterns, set against a softly blurred background. Lush green leaves provide a complementary backdrop, adding depth to the composition.
These plants offer enduring beauty with diverse colors and shapes.

For long-lasting flower power, you can’t go wrong with orchids. There are so many types of flower colors and shapes, but the stunning beauty of the tall or cascading stems makes them good houseplants.

They require very basic care, and after they have flowered, there are ways to make them bloom again, or you can do as I do and toss them outside on the patio to see what they will do with rainwater and neglect.


A vibrant begonia plant blooms with delicate pink flowers, nestled among lush green leaves, contained in a brown pot. Behind it, a textured white wall provides a subtle contrast, enhancing the plant's natural beauty.
Avoid frequent relocation once begonias are established in a favorable spot.

Another of the flowering varieties of tropical indoor plants. Begonias, however, are often not bought for their flowering power but for their intricate, delicate, pretty leaves.

These are useful plants that can grow in a terrarium and in containers as long as they are not overwatered. They will decorate various zones of a home, but once settled and happy, don’t move them too quickly, or you may lose them just as quickly. They like regular feeding in the growing season. If they flower, deadhead them regularly to encourage more.

Pachira Aquatica

A money tree with slender trunks rises from a white pot, its bark textured and gracefully twisting upwards. Behind it, a variety of plants fill the blurred background, with an empty wooden shelf adding to the scene.
The money tree adapts easily to different container sizes due to its swamp plant origins.

The money tree (Pachira Aquatica) is a favorite tropical houseplant for its leaves as much as its symbolism. The ‘aquatica’ species gives the game away; it’s a swamp plant used to being near water. This means that water is its primary focus; otherwise, it’s easy to grow and not too fussy. Give it plenty of bright light, and you are there. The size of the container you grow it in will determine the size so that you can have big or small plants.

The money tree symbolizes abundance, prosperity, and good luck, which is possibly why it’s such a popular plant all over the world.


A close-up of a lush ficus plant reveals its intricate beauty. The dark green leaves are richly veined, adding depth and texture to the vibrant foliage, creating a captivating natural display.
Popular ficus varieties are known for their thick leaves and adaptability.

Rubber trees have long been popular houseplants due to their lovely, thick, rubbery leaves and adaptability in the home. Some varieties have gorgeous leaf coloring, making them even more popular in recent years. The iconic Ficus lyrata is a well-known houseplant with unforgettable massive leaves.

Some ficus plants are trees, which makes them useful for height-in-a-room design, but they need extra light to ensure all the leaves don’t drop. Most ficus varieties are as tough as nails, and it’s a well-known fact that they are so tough that they will grow in the smallest of cracks.

Kentia Palm

A close-up of a Kentia palm showcasing glossy, emerald leaves, evoking a lush tropical ambiance. Sunlight gently kisses the foliage, creating mesmerizing reflections that dance across the surface, adding a touch of natural elegance to any space.
This palm tree with cascading leaves thrives with bright light and regular moisture.

Tropical palm trees have to be part of a tropical houseplant list, and this one is one of my favorites. It gives the instant feeling of the tropics, and all that is needed is the beach sand and a cocktail with a paper umbrella in it.

This gorgeous specimen has lovely cascading palm leaves that fan out from the middle stem. They can do okay with less light than other plants but prefer bright light. They will do well with plenty of moisture and regular feeding, but other than that, they are effortless to care for.

Spider Plant

A close-up of a potted spider plant reveals its delicate, slender leaves cascading elegantly. Each leaf boasts a vibrant shade of green, creating a captivating contrast against the darker hues of the pot's soil.
The spider plant is an easy-to-grow plant with variegated leaves.

Chlorophytum comosum is an easy plant to grow, and it almost propagates itself by producing curved stems with baby spiders at the end of them that, when weighted down as they grow, touch the soil and begin a new plant. They are like creeping spiders, although not as creepy.

The variegated leaves in tufts make charming pot plants for coffee tables and desks. They are tolerant of a bit of neglect, needing average water, average temperature, and average humidity. A lot of average care, but in style, far from average.

ZZ Plant

A potted ZZ plant, known for its glossy, dark green leaves, thrives in a bright, white room adorned with elegant blue curtains. Sunlight filters through the leaves, creating captivating shadows that dance gracefully across the pristine wall.
Dark green and black Zamioculcas zamiifolia varieties like ‘Raven’ thrive with neglect.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia has a lot going for it, especially the dark green and black ones like ‘Raven’ that are just spectacular in a pot. You are desperate to look after this plant, but you are doing it a favor by neglecting it.

Overwatering can kill it quickly. If you think it needs water, leave it for a week. It can tolerate a range of light levels, including quite dark areas of the home, which makes it the perfect houseplant.

Out of the trending tropicals, the bloom-leaved varieties are hot right now but don’t forget the green ones. Also, a note of caution about the black leaves: they often revert back to their original green along the way, so don’t expect it to be perfect. I prefer that it has a kind of mind of its own.


A white ceramic pot sits on a wooden surface, holding a vibrant pothos plant with green leaves streaked with white. In the background, a blurred gray couch adds a subtle contrast to the plant's lively hues.
These plants cascade beautifully from high shelves with minimal fuss.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) has to be one of the easiest houseplants to own and are especially good for beginner gardeners. They are almost indestructible, relying on the occasional bit of water to survive.

The cascading nature of the plants allows them to be used on high shelves to trail down, create a fabulous display, and still not be too fussy about the light way up there on the shelf and the fact that watering may be occasional.

Give them bright light, water every couple of weeks, and a bit of fertilizer once a month in spring and summer, and you will be rewarded with lush foliage and a fast-growing houseplant that is super easy to propagate.


A close-up of Hoya's leaves, showcasing glossy green hues that emanate freshness. Delicate white edges add a striking contrast, enhancing the allure of these botanical wonders with their intricate beauty and natural elegance.
Trailing hoyas thrive indoors with moderate light and water.

Called wax plants because of their waxy leaves, trailing hoyas are excellent houseplants and, with some time, produce the most stunning velvety clusters of flowers that are very special indeed. The leaves are also lush, and you can choose from varieties that have sharp or round leaves, all with a glossy shine and some with variegations.

They prefer medium-light, plenty of water in the summer with drier times during winter, medium to high humidity, and good feeding in summer.


A dumb cane plant stands in a room, boasting large green leaves adorned with charming yellow dots. Adjacent to the plant, a graceful fern thrives, enhancing the natural ambiance, complemented by a window framed by white curtains.
Dumb cane plants’ sap can cause temporary speechlessness if it touches the throat.

Dumb cane plants are known for their very appealing foliage and large leaves. The contrasting colors form a marbling effect on the surface of the leaves, making them irresistible.

Its rather bizarre common name is attributed to the sap it produces when cut, which can make a person speechless if it comes in contact with the throat. Why anyone would put their throat near the plants is a bit of a mystery, but clearly, it has been done in the past.

You can choose to use gloves when handling the plants. They prefer bright light and high humidity like other varieties hailing from the West Indies and the Caribbean.

Ponytail Palm Tree

In a sunlit green corner framed by a window, a vibrant potted ponytail palm tree flourishes, basking in its verdant sanctuary. Its stout trunk rises proudly, supporting a cascade of slender, graceful leaves.
The ponytail palm grows up to 30 feet tall in the wild.

A ponytail palm is not so much a palm as a yucca or an agave, but it does have the shape of a palm with a thick fleshy base and messy hairstyle of leaves on the top of the tall stem. In the wild, they can grow up to 30 feet tall, but confined to a pot, you can have them as desktop plants or 4-foot-long trees in large pots.

They like plenty of light, high temperatures, and relatively dry soils that are well-draining. Keep out of drafty areas and feed in spring and summer monthly.

Final Thoughts

There is so much richness in tropical plants, and each has its own uniqueness that is so rewarding in a houseplant. I would have them all if there were just a little more space in my house.

How to propagate cast iron plants. The cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is known for its robust, dark green, lance-shaped leaves that grow in dense clumps from a central rhizomatous base. These leaves are leathery in texture and have a dark green color with a glossy surface and prominent parallel veins running along the length of each leaf.


How to Propagate Cast Iron Plants

Aspidistra elatior has a reputation for being indestructible, hence its common name cast iron plant. This lush, leafy, tropical plant is the one for the dark corner where nothing else will survive. It doesn’t mind a bit of neglect now and again, making it the best beginner plant you will find. With all these good attributes, you may want more cast iron plants. In this article, gardening expert Wendy Moulton shares how to propagate cast iron plants.

A close-up of polka dot leaves, their lush texture inviting touch and exploration. Speckled with shades of green and pink, they create a lively mosaic, a delightful blend of natural hues that captivates the eye with its playful charm.


How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Polka Dot Plants

Often referred to as a novelty houseplant due to their bright dotty foliage, polka dot plants are also planted in garden beds as annuals. These pretty tropical plants are soft and gentle but also easy to care for with the right conditions. In this article, plant expert Wendy Moulton explains how to take care of them for the best results.

close up of hands holding an enclosed glass terrarium filled with pretty textured plants and rocks.


How to Make a Terrarium: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever looked at a beautiful terrarium and wanted one of your own? In this article, gardening expert Wendy Moulton explores this captivating art form and each step to get you there. You may be surprised at how easy it is to create a mini ecosystem with the right tools and info. Let's dig deeper into terrariums and how to make one.