13 Tropical Plants With Red Flowers

Red is the color of many things - and a popular color for tropical plants. Scarlet hues attract pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies and make a bold addition to the garden or sunny window indoors. Garden expert Christina Conner lists her favorite tropical red flowers and how to grow them.

Hibiscus schizopetalus presents slender, arching stems adorned with deeply lobed green leaves and a pendulous, fringed tropical red flower with long, thread-like petals.

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Red – the color of passion, love, and energy. Tropical plants with red blooms evoke the same emotions and make a bold statement to the garden. Red flowers also scream “over here!” to birds and butterflies, especially hummingbirds.

Planted in the garden, reds pair well with dramatic green foliage like banana trees, elephant ears, or dumb cane plants. Green is complementary to red and lets the red flowers pop. When it comes to drama, you’re in luck with tropicals! 

Other flowers that pair well with scarlet blooms are white and black as neutral options for contrast or alongside colors in the same family – pinks, yellows, and oranges. The most well-known red flower may be the red rose, though it’s not tropical. Roses are red. What other flowers are too?

Canna ‘President’

Canna x generalis ‘President’ features large, paddle-shaped leaves and vibrant, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red.
Embrace a sea of vibrant red blooms in your garden.

Botanical name: Canna x generalis ‘President’ 

  • Plant Size: 4’-6’
  • Sun: Full Sun
  • Soil conditions: Consistently moist
  • Geographic Origin: Tropical regions in North and South America
  • USDA Zones: 8-11

If you love cannas, there’s no shortage of red varieties! There are 10 species of giant, dwarf, and standard sizes in shades from pinkish red ‘Crimson Beauty’ to variegated red and yellow ‘Lucifer’ with foliage ranging from green, deep red, to nearly black. 

Heirloom canna ‘President’ is a true, classic red flower with big, green leaves and typically tops out at six feet. ‘President’ has graced the White House garden in years past, giving it its namesake. While cannas can tolerate partial shade, full sun promotes the most blooms. 

If you can’t find ‘President’ at a local nursery, purchase bulbs online and plant them after the last frost date in late spring or early summer. 

Tropical Hibiscus 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis showcases glossy, dark green leaves and a showy, funnel-shaped flower in red color, with a prominent stamen.
Celebrate vitality with vibrant, symbolic red blooms in your garden.

Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

  • Plant Size: 4-10 feet tall  
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil conditions: Consistently moist
  • Geographic Origin: Southeast Asia 
  • USDA Zones: 9-11

Known as the tropical hibiscus, Chinese hibiscus, and Hawaiian hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is native to Southeast Asia and is the national flower of Malaysia. Its vibrant red hue represents the Malay people’s courage and vitality, and its five large petals represent the principles of the Rukun Negara, a set of Malaysian guiding principles.  

Tropical hibiscus comes in white, pink, yellow, apricot, and orange flowers, but most often red. Their saucer-sized flowers grow between two and ten inches and bloom most prolifically in full sun. In tropical locales, they’re evergreen or can be overwintered indoors in a bright, sunny window in cooler climes. 

Royal Poinciana

Delonix regia presents delicate, fern-like foliage and flamboyant clusters of bright red-orange flowers resembling a burst of flames.
Experience a breathtaking canopy of fiery red blooms in summer.

Botanical name: Delonix regia

  • Plant Size: 30 – 40 feet
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil conditions: Well drained and tolerant of drought and salt once established 
  • Geographic Origin: Madagascar
  • USDA Zones: 9-12 

The royal poinciana blooms in late spring to early summer with fiery red flowers completely covering the tree’s canopy. The bright red-orange flowers have a diameter of three to four inches and look almost like orchid flowers up close, though the flowers all meld into big reddish clusters at a distance. With large, feathery leaves similar to the mimosa tree, the royal poinciana provides dappled shade for understory plants or a garden nook. 

Delonix regia is evergreen in humid and tropical regions from south Florida to Hawaii and deciduous in drier climates with cool winters from southern California to Texas. If you’re lucky enough to plant one, the royal poinciana is a showstopping tree to consider. 

Scarlet Star Bromeliad

Guzmania lingulata ‘Scarlet Star’ exhibits long, glossy green leaves forming a rosette, with a striking inflorescence of bright red bracts surrounding tiny yellow flowers.
Add a whimsical touch to your garden with vibrant scarlet stars.

Botanical name: Guzmania lingulata  

  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet 
  • Sun: Partial to full shade 
  • Soil conditions: Well drained, rich in organic matter 
  • Geographic Origin: Southeast Mexico, Tropical Americas 
  • USDA Zones: 10-12

Known as the scarlet star or droophead tufted airplant (this name makes me giggle), the scarlet star can be planted in the understory of tropical gardens, in the ground, on tree branches (it’s an epiphyte) or inside as a houseplant. The rosette of bright red bracts forms a central tunnel, where the plant absorbs moisture (water directly into the bract instead of the soil) and gives critters like frogs and insects a natural water dish to drink from. 

I cheated a little by adding this plant to the list; the actual flowers of bromeliads are insignificant. Instead, the star of the show is the bract—the colorful leaves holding the flowers. Unlike most flowers, however, the inflorescence of the bromeliad lasts several months before dying back and being succeeded by pups emerging from the base of the plant. 

Lipstick plant ‘Mona Lisa’

Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’ features glossy, dark green leaves and tubular, orange-red flowers cascading from trailing stems.
Add a splash of vibrant color with unique lipstick plants.

Botanical name: Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’

  • Plant Size: 3-4 inches tall and 2-3 feet wide
  • Sun: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil conditions: Moist and well-draining 
  • Geographic Origin: Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar 
  • USDA Zones: 10-11 

Named the lipstick plant for its tubular red flowers, ‘Mona Lisa’ has bright red flowers with yellowy-orange throats, adding dimension. If you’re looking for something even more different, ‘Rasta’ and ‘Curly’ both have classic red flowers with twisted, green foliage, adding some visual interest when the plant isn’t in bloom. Aeschynanthus radicans is a prolific bloomer throughout spring, over summer, and into fall when in its ideal temperature of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius).

The lipstick plant is an epiphyte like the bromeliad, growing on branches or along rocks in its native rainforest. When planting, mimic its natural habitat by mixing your media with sphagnum, orchid bark, or perlite. The lipstick plant is great in hanging baskets or trailing down walls. If you’re not in a tropical environment, keep your lipstick plant happy by moving it outside over summer under partial shade and overwintering indoors. 

Flamingo Flower

Anthurium scherzerianum displays glossy, heart-shaped leaves and a distinctive, waxy, red spathe surrounding a spike of tiny flowers.
Brighten any space with easy-care, vibrant flamingo flowers.

Botanical name: Anthurium scherzerianum 

  • Plant Size: 18 inches tall 
  • Sun: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil conditions: Well-draining, consistently moist, humus-rich soil 
  • Geographic Origin: Costa Rica
  • USDA Zones: 10-12

One of my favorite red inflorescences, the flamingo flower is a favorite host gift for even the worst of plant parents, thanks to its easy care. Anthurium has many varieties and colors, but Anthurium scherzerianum is known for its curling spadix and bright red blooms. Speaking of blooms, the flamingo flower is another example of a “flower” that is not a true flower. The bright red blooms are actually spathes, modified leaves that help pollinators pollinate the tiny flowers on the spadix (the floral spike). 

Native to Costa Rican rainforests, they prefer partial sun or bright, indirect light if kept as a houseplant. Though they can survive in shade, low light slows growth and produces fewer blooms. For the happiest plants, use a fertilizer high in phosphorus once a month during spring and summer when the plant is blooming. 

Bougainvillea ‘San Diego Red’

Bougainvillea buttiana ‘San Diego Red’ ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ presents vibrant green leaves and clusters of papery bracts in shades of red, surrounding inconspicuous flowers.
Elevate your garden with cascades of striking, colorful blooms.

Botanical name: Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘San Diego Red’ ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ 

  • Plant Size: 15’-30’
  • Sun: Full sun 
  • Soil conditions: Rich, loamy, well-drained 
  • Geographic Origin: South America 
  • USDA Zones: 9-11

Bougainvillea is a trailing, crawling tropical vine with flowers in many colors, from white to fuchsia to bright red. ‘San Diego Red’ (sometimes sold under the trade name ‘Scarlett O’Hara’) is a bold red, and its masses of vibrant red bracts are striking when in full bloom. Plant near a wall or trellis to climb, or allow it to spill over a hanging basket. 

They do best in dry, Mediterranean climates, but ‘San Diego Red’ has a bonus – it’s slightly more cold and shade tolerant than other varieties, so gardeners in borderline zones (between 8 and 9) may have better luck with this variety than other bougainvilleas. 

Red Mandevilla Vine

Mandevilla sanderi ‘Sun Parasol Crimson' showcases glossy, dark green foliage and large, trumpet-shaped crimson flowers with a yellow throat in a gray pot under full sun in the garden.
Enhance your space with vibrant, tropical-hued mandevilla blooms.

Botanical name: Mandevilla sanderi ‘Sun Parasol Crimson’

  • Plant Size: 3-10 feet 
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade 
  • Soil conditions: Well-drained, moist
  • Geographic Origin: Central America, South America, West Indies
  • USDA Zones: 9-11

A semi-soft vine, mandevilla uses tendrils to climb fences, brick walls, or trail down hanging baskets. They come in colors ranging from pink to white and many shades in between. ‘Sun Parasol Crimson’ is the name of the red cultivar, though mandevillas are often sold simply by color – red, white, etc. The flowers of the mandevilla flower year-round and scream tropical – five-petaled flowers with an average width of five inches and typically have an orange-ish funneled throat. 

Though the mandevilla can tolerate full sun, it benefits from being shielded from harsh afternoon sun under shade or dappled sunlight. It’s a heavy drinker, so check the soil daily during summer. 

Trailing Fuchsia ‘Marinka’

Fuchsia ‘Marinka’ features delicate, serrated leaves and pendulous, bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink-red, with contrasting sepals.
Elevate your garden with the striking beauty of ‘Marinka’ fuchsia.

Botanical name: Fuchsia ‘Marinka’

  • Plant Size: 12 inches tall 
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil conditions: Well-drained, moist 
  • Geographic Origin: Central and South America  
  • USDA Zones: 10-12 

While the standard purple-and-red fuchsia could fit the bill for a red tropical flower, ‘Marinka’ kicks it up a notch in all red. A recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit, this is a stunning hybrid specimen when blooming during spring and summer. Its vibrant red hue and nectar-rich flowers make it a favorite pollinator plant for bees, butterflies, moths, and caterpillars. 

Unlike most flowering plants, fuschia prefers full to partial shade, making it great for shadier gardens and under porches in hanging baskets or trailing down pots. They prefer loamy, moist soil but don’t like wet feet, so make sure your mixture is well-draining. While this fuschia isn’t hardy to temperatures below 50°F (10°C), there is a hardy fuschia suited to zones 6-10, though not solid red. 

Red Pentas 

Pentas lanceolata ‘Butterfly Cherry Red’ presents lance-shaped leaves and clusters of small, star-shaped flowers in bright cherry red hues.
Brighten your garden with vibrant, butterfly-attracting pentas blooms.

Botanical name: Pentas lanceolata ‘Butterfly Cherry Red’ ‘New Look Red’ ‘Ruby Glow’

  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil conditions: Well-drained, moderately moist, fertile soil with good organic matter content
  • Geographic Origin: Eastern Africa 
  • USDA Zones: 10-11

Pentas, also known as Egyptian star flowers, is a favorite annual stocked by most plant nurseries in spring and summer. Given their popularity, there are too many varieties to list – pinks, whites, and reds in seemingly endless varieties. Since many of the newer red cultivars are bred for purely ornamental use, they’re oftentimes not nectar sources for butterflies and hummingbirds. Old-fashioned, unnamed, or ‘Ruby Glow’ pentas are best for attracting them.   

A sunny site with afternoon shade, along with fertilization every six weeks, produces the most prolific blooms. As with most summer annuals, pentas can be grown as perennials in tropical locations or overwintered indoors as houseplants.

Torch Ginger

Etlingera elatior exhibits long, lance-shaped leaves and striking inflorescences of bright red bracts, resembling torches.
Illuminate your garden with vibrant, fragrant blooms and bold colors.

Botanical name: Etlingera elatior

  • Plant Size: 6-15 feet 
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade 
  • Soil conditions: Well-drained, consistently moist, humus-rich
  • Geographic Origin: Southeast Asia and Oceania 
  • USDA Zones: 10-12

Named for its large floral head resembling a flaming torch, this flowering ginger makes a vibrant statement with bold red flowers tinged with white or pink and a lemongrassy, minty fragrance. Its flowers are great as cut flowers and stems infuse a sweet and sour flavor to curries and soups. 

It’s a fast grower, reaching heights of up to 15 feet in tropical climates while staying shorter in cooler climates, though completely intolerant of night-time temperatures dipping below 50°F (10°C). While many tropical plants can be kept as houseplants, Etlingera elatior isn’t a good candidate – being kept as a houseplant stunts growth, and the plant likely won’t produce flowers. 

Protect your torch ginger by planting it in a spot that receives morning sun but is shielded from harsh afternoon sunlight and strong winds. 

Spider Hibiscus

With its gracefully drooping branches, Hibiscus schizopetalus showcases serrated green leaves and striking, pendulous flowers featuring deeply fringed petals in shades of red.
Add unique charm to your garden with stunning, chandelier-like blooms.

Botanical name: Hibiscus schizopetalus

  • Plant Size: 10-12 feet tall
  • Sun: Full sun 
  • Soil conditions: Well-drained, moist, rich 
  • Geographic Origin: Tropical East Africa
  • USDA Zones: 10-11

A flower with many names, including skeleton hibiscus, Chinese lantern, Japanese lantern, and pagoda flower, the spider hibiscus looks unlike any other hibiscus. The frilly petals of these bright red flowers grow inward towards the stem, forming a globular shape, dangling stamens down, resembling chandeliers or lanterns. The blooms attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. 

While it needs maximum sun to flower, like other hibiscus species, Hibiscus schizopetalus has a few unique care requirements. While tempting to prune it back (it has a leggy nature), pruning yearly eliminates blooms, so limit to once every three to four years. Overwinter indoors in a bright, sunny spot or grow as an annual, though it’s doubtful you’d want to let this gorgeous plant die come winter. 

Red Passionflower

Passiflora coccinea showcases deeply lobed leaves and a showy, intricate flower with red petals, a purple and white coronal filaments, and prominent stamens.
Enhance your garden with vibrant, butterfly-attracting red passionflowers.

Botanical name: Passiflora coccinea

  • Plant Size: 10-12 feet tall 
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil conditions: well-drained and moist sandy, loamy, and clay humus-rich soils; tolerant of occasional wet or dry soil
  • Geographic Origin: South America
  • USDA Zones: 10-12

While the common purple passionflower gets much attention, did you know there’s a red variety, too? Passiflora coccinea is a tropical vine with gorgeous, three- to five-inch scarlet flowers. It appears similar to a clematis, with some of the detail of the purple passionflower. The red passionflower blooms from summer into fall, producing edible fruits after blooming. 

The red passionflower is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds attracted to its vibrant flowers. Since they climb via tendrils, give them a trellis, arbor, post, or fence to grow on if you live in a tropical climate, or plant them in a pot to overwinter indoors in a sunny window. While the purple passionflower is considered invasive in South Florida, the red passionflower is classed as a “low invasion risk” by the University of Florida Assessment of Non-Native Plants. 

Deserving of an honorable mention is the perfumed passionflower Passiflora vitifolia, another crimson-hued passionflower.  

Final Thoughts

If you’re lucky enough to live in a tropical climate, keep these planted outdoors year-round as perennials or overwinter them if you live in a cooler climate. In addition to being bold and beautiful, many red flowers do double duty by attracting pollinators. Some tropical red flowers are common, some are harder to find, but all are sure to make a statement. 

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