If you could go just about anywhere in the world, where would it be? Hawaii? Peru? Most will say that they want to explore the tropical regions of the world.
They are known for containing some of the most beautiful plants with an exotic sense of flair. Adding a tropical plant to your home can help you partake in such a vibrant section of the globe without needing to take a step outside the front door.
There are a good number of plants that make up this category of flora. This group has individuals of different shapes and sizes. So then what do they all share in common?
Their extravagant flowers and large leaves are among the most distinguishing features. Thinking about the environment that they’d likely dwell in, these floras need to have a specific set of needs met.
Overall, they are easy to keep happy, just as long as their necessities are taken into account.
- 1 TROPICAL PLANTS: CARE BASICS
- 2 WATERING YOUR TROPICAL PLANT RIGHT
- 3 PROPAGATING A TROPICAL PLANT
- 4 PESTS AND THE TROPICAL PLANT
- 5 TROPICAL PLANT PROBLEMS
- 6 5 TAKEAWAYS TO A THRIVING TROPICAL PLANT
- 7 TROPICAL PLANTS FAQ
TROPICAL PLANTS: CARE BASICS
Your house may not have the temperature and humidity of a tropical rainforest, but that does not mean that you can count these plants out of your collection. There are ways in which you can mimic their native environment without turning your home into a sauna. The following section is devoted to ensuring that you meet the essential needs of a tropical plant.
The soil of a rainforest or jungle is rich in organic matter. It also is quite loose, allowing the water to drain down to the roots of a plant without having it sit in water.
You’ll want to keep this in mind when considering the best potting mix for your tropical plant. Indoor potting soil that suits these floras well tends to include a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
This allows the soil to absorb the water quickly and efficiently. The only problem is that it also dries out rather fast. If you can, we also recommend that you try to keep the soil at a pH level that is slightly acidic.
The most important soil component is how well it drains. Don’t choose soils that are compact and heavy such as clay. There are potting mixes that seem to have tropical plants in mind, supplying additional nutrients that your flora may be lacking.
Tropical plants found within their natural environment are constantly competing for light. If you’ve ever seen a photo of a dense rainforest, you’ll quickly realize how the plants seem to grow over one another.
This is due to the fact that they all need light, and nobody wants to share. Tropical plants, even when kept indoors, thrive off of ample sunlight.
This light should be rather bright, but never direct. Those leaves, although large and rather thick, are susceptible to scorching under the wrong conditions.
Most individuals will be happy if given roughly 12 to 14 hours of light in a day. Keep in mind that not every species will want this. Some tropical plants will prefer to be placed in a window that gets lower levels of light.
The general rule for tropical plants is that they tend to survive with more water rather than not enough. This can be a slippery slope. Sure, they do prefer to have their soil stay evenly saturated.
Just don’t allow your flora to sit in water. This can result in negative consequences such as root rot or wilting of the leaves. Once a week tends to be a proper amount of time so that your plant does not dry out.
When watering, you’ll want to do so with a certain method. Watering cans allow the water to reach every part of the soil, even adding moisture to the leaves.
This is referred to as the “top-water” method. As with most plants, you’ll want to be sure to provide drainage holes on the underside of the container or pot. Your tropical plant should never be allowed to sit in water. The root ball is sensitive to root rot.
Tropical environments are known for being somewhat warm year round. Most owners who keep their flora outside will need to bring them in during the night if there’s a particularly drastic shift in temperature.
These plants start to become damaged when exposed to anything lower than 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Being kept inside has its advantages.
Tropical and subtropical individuals tend to do better when staying inside the home. Houses that stay between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal.
Some species are even able to handle temperatures that rise above 32 degrees Celsius, or 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The takeaway for temperature requirements is that you should keep your home fairly warm and not open up a window that could let in a potential draft.
Humidity isn’t all that important for most plants, especially those who are placed in the correct room. Tropical species depend upon this added level of moisture to keep their leaves and flowers vibrant.
Most homes lie between forty and sixty percent humidity. Unfortunately, this is still too low for a tropical indoor plant. You should aim to reach a humidity that is at least sixty percent.
Anything over eighty percent is far too high and can lead to damaged leaves or roots. But, how are you supposed to supply them with these levels without turning your home into a sauna?
You can implement a misting routine to directly give those leaves a bit more water than the typical watering. Specific rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen tend to have a higher level of humidity.
If you want to own a decadent tropical plant, you should likely invest in a high quality fertilizer. Those flashy flowers that you see in flora such as Hibiscus are extremely taxing to the individual.
Tropical plants are known for lacking Phosphorous compared to other nutrients. They also won’t hurt for having the addition of iron magnesium.
Balanced fertilizers should be applied every two weeks during the correct seasons. You should wait until either the earlier months of spring or late summer to add any additional supplements.
Miracle Gro has been known to be quite effective when given at three-month intervals. Do not add any fertilizer when the plant is not actively growing.
There are a wide variety of tropical plants found within this genre of flora. The majority of these floras can be propagated through stem cuttings, being rooted in water, or seed germination.
Stem cuttings tend to be the most straightforward practice and do not require as much of a watchful eye. Seed germination takes a great deal longer, while rooting in water can be a bit tricky.
We’ll discuss the steps involved with stem cutting propagation later on in the article.
Tropical plants are known to be “epiphytic”. This means that they use another flora individual for support. Considering a tropical rainforest, the environment is shrouded in nothing but green.
This is because they need to climb in order gain that necessary sunlight. Another reason is because they need to gather water that drips down from the host plant.
This makes it more advantageous to spread out and shoot upward. But, what about your houseplant? Will it take over the corner of your room? Not necessarily.
There are smaller species that only reach a foot or two in height. You could also have a species that reaches seven feet tall.
The beauty of tropical plants is that you find the right one that matches the size of your home! Keep in mind that the average tropical flora will live anywhere between two and five years of age.
The roots of a tropical plant are known for being quite dense, quickly growing down with small branches. For this reason, they need to be in the proper pot.
A container too small will render them cramped, thus leading to a slew of other problems. There is a proper time when to transfer your tropical plant to a new pot.
Commence with this process when you see new growth start to form. This usually will be during the spring months. Moving your plant from one pot to another may be somewhat stressful.
By doing it during the spring, you give the individual enough time to recover. When you add the soil to your new pot, compress the soil as far down as you can.
This will remove and limit any potential air pockets. Immediately water once you have it in its new home!
If you’re apprehensive about repotting your tropical plant, check out this article!
WATERING YOUR TROPICAL PLANT RIGHT
The act of watering a tropical plant is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the overall health and well being of these individuals.
As much as they love moisture, these plants are not immune to getting root rot when given too much moisture. The first rule of thumb is to make sure that the underside of your pot has enough drainage holes.
This will allow the water to pass through without having the flora sit in the moisture.
The next piece of advice that we can give you is to only water your tropical plant when it truly needs it. You can easily check on it by sticking your finger in the first inch of soil.
If it is not moist, you’ll need to add more water.
Don’t go more than a week without checking on the soil. You should get into the habit of surveying the substrate for dryness. Fortunately, your plant will be able to obtain additional moisture through misting.
PROPAGATING A TROPICAL PLANT
There are a number of ways in which you can go about propagating your tropical plant. As we mentioned earlier, these can range between stem cutting, seed germination, and propagating through rooting it in water.
Stem cuttings tends to be the most reliable, even amongst the various species found within this group of plants. Let’s take a moment to talk about the steps involved with stem cutting.
PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS
- Find the nodes on your healthy tropical plant and make an incision below it with a pair of clean, sharp scissors.
- Your cuttings should be about four to six inches in overall length.
- Take any leaves off of the stem that are located on the lower half. The reason for this is because it will take more energy from your plant.
- At this time, you can dip your stem into a rooting hormone, though this is not mandatory!
- Plant a few stem cuttings into a pot with freshly laid soil so that their exposed end is in the substrate. Proceed to give them a full watering session.
- Consider placing a bag over the stem cuttings to increase humidity and moisture while they grow.
- Check back after a week or two. You should start to see results in two weeks, where you can then transfer them to a larger pot.
PESTS AND THE TROPICAL PLANT
Supplying your tropical plant with enough water isn’t the only thing that you should be worried about. There are a number of issues that can happen, such as pests and diseases.
In fact, even if you were to keep a careful watch over your tropical plant, you could still see a pest or two. Healthy floras are susceptible to these issues. Here are the most common bugs and diseases that attack tropical plants.
Finding a bug on the foliage of your plant is extremely frustrating! Pests can come in through the window, or even may be found in the soil that you bought from the store.
The best way to get rid of these invaders is to use insecticidal soaps, liquid dish soap mixed with water, or organic neem oil.
The Marble Queen Pothos is a tropical plant that is at risk for battling with mealybugs and other pests!
Bugs aren’t the only culprits when it comes to an outside source attacking your tropical plant. Fungal conditions such as leaf curl, scales, and root rot are the most prevalent.
There are a number of fungicides that can help you combat these diseases.
Depending on how bad it is, or how quickly you caught the issue, you may need to cut away the dying foliage. If this happens, burn it so that it can’t contaminate the rest of your individual.
TROPICAL PLANT PROBLEMS
Your plant can actually let you know if it’s struggling. All you have to do is be able to look for the signs.
Tropical houseplants are known for being a little sensitive in their requirements – particularly when it comes to water. Use the following signs to give you aid in how to help meet all of their needs along the way!
PROBLEM #1: FADED FOLIAGE
One aspect people think of with tropical plants is how vibrant that they can be, even the leaves. Anything outside of that strikingly bright green should tell you that they aren’t getting enough light.
Not getting enough light is an easy issue to fix. Simply shift their pot to a location that gets more sunlight, as long as it isn’t direct. You can also add your own light if you prefer the spot that they are in.
PROBLEM #2: DISCOLORED LEAVES
We mentioned that anything outside of that typical, tropical green should be an indicator that there is a problem afoot. The browning and yellowing of leaves is linked to a lack of water.
With this discoloration, you can either assume that you aren’t supplying your tropical plant with enough water or humidity. Check the soil more frequently and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Also, consider misting on a regular basis.
PROBLEM #3: DROOPY FOLIAGE
Leaves that sag are a clear sign that your plant is struggling with water. The tricky part is that this can be from over and under-watering.
We suggest checking the soil with your finger and going from there. Tropical plants prefer to keep their soil evenly moist without sitting in water.
PROBLEM #4: WEAKER GROWING RATE
Is your tropical plant not reaching its full potential as quickly as you would expect? It’s safe to assume that this is due to a lack of overall light.
Finding a window that gets plenty of indirect, bright sunlight may be the end of your leggy tropical plant. You can also use the addition of lights above your flora.
5 TAKEAWAYS TO A THRIVING TROPICAL PLANT
We understand that there might be a lot of information to take in when it comes to the overall care, but here are the main points!
- Any soil will do as long as it can drain properly!
- Fertilizer can help keep your plant vibrant and full.
- Look into the specific light requirements of your particular tropical plant, but keep in mind that they do prefer ample sunlight.
- Expect to water your plant once a week, or enough to keep it evenly moist.
- Keep an eye out for potential pests and diseases along the way!
TROPICAL PLANTS FAQ
Can you grow tropical plants indoors?
Absolutely! They might just need a little more pruning than your typical houseplant.
What are some types of tropical plants?
The beauty about investing in a tropical plant is that they are incredibly diverse. Tropical floras include Bromeliads, Laceleaf, Philodendrons and Fig trees.
How do you prune tropical plants?
Begin by removing the longer branches, cutting it back by a third of the overall length. All dead leaves and foliage should also be taken off. Any cuts that you make should be angled down towards the joints to reduce the chances of growing in the wrong direction.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.