The Tropical Guide to Indoor Plants: Part I

The Tropical Guide to Indoor Plants: Part I

When I started writing this out, I didn’t realise what a long, long post it was going to turn into- SO many options to pick from if you don’t really have a sprawling garden to devote to plant life, but, like me, need to share your space with as much greenery as you can.

First things, first. Homes can be imagined as micro-climates. In other words, the climatic conditions inside a home, including the complex interaction of room temperatures and humidity levels create environmental conditions that can be drastically different from those outside your home. But this can, in fact, be a great advantage- offering you chances of growing exotic flora within the confines of your own home.

Here is a short beginner’s guide to growing your own oxygen producing green patches at home. If you have children or pets, keep in mind that some of these may be toxic, so research well, and choose wisely!

Ornamental Flora

Areca Palm

The quintessential tropical plant, the areca palm’s fronds make for a beautiful effect anywhere inside the home. This plant grows well in indirect light, and is a low-fuss affair. Make sure to let the soil dry out before each watering, as wet soil tends to root rot.


Rubber Tree

This hardy plant can grow up to eight feet in the house, making for a poppy foliage indoors. If you want it smaller, you can prune it into a shrub. The shiny, dark green leaves add an accent, and require medium to bright light. The plant prefers dry soils.

Rubber tree

Heart Shaped Philodendron

A lush alternative to the ubiquitous money plant, the heart shaped philodendron is a gorgeous creeper that loves to spill down from bookshelves and counters. It prefers indirect light, making it perfect for those empty nooks. Take care to let the soil dry out.


Toxicity alert: The Philodendron species contain insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate called raphites. Chewing or biting into the plant releases the crystals which penetrate tissue causing symptoms like foaming, choking, vomiting, and pawing of the face (in reaction to oral pain), so keep it away from pets!


With its rich magenta foliage, Cordyline species, espcially Cordyline fruticosa, is an attractive addition to indoor decors. They require a moist soil with regular watering, and are better suited to bright, indirect light.


Boston Fern

Another shade loving plant, the Boston fern is the perfect choice for a serene and lush bathroom decor. Ideal conditions are humid, cool places with indirect light. They barely need any fertilizer, as long as you’re making sure the soil and surrounding area is damp or humid enough.

Boston fern


Also nick named the Norfolk Pine, the Araucaria is a conifer that can grow well in low light conditions in the tropics. Ideally, you could place in front of a North facing window, so that it does not receive the brunt of the harsh, tropical summertime sun.

Araucaria heterophylla Gracilis

Air Purifiers

Money Plant

Perhaps the most commonly grown house plant, the money plant requires little care, and takes to the indoors like a fish to water. Plant it near a wall, and watch it climb all over into a vertical garden. ALternatively, you can simply grow one in a beer bottle, or an accent glass jar for a gorgeous effect. Or, you can hang it from the ceiling and watch its leaves come down in pretty trellised layers.

Money plant

Peace Lily

Preferring low light, the peace lily is the prettiest plant you can have inside your home. With its exotic pure white flowers that contrast beautifully with its glossy leaves, this plant is one of the best


Weeping Ficus

Notoriously fussy, the Weeping Ficus is said to be worth the effort, if you manage to bring one to blooming life without many mishaps. It can grow upto a height of around 5 feet even when potted.


Snake Plant

The snake plant is a quickly growing succulent that is just about perfect for your bedroom. These low maintenance plants take the prize for flourishing even through neglect, so they’re just about right for someone who doesn’t have all day to pamper their plants.



In traditional Chinese home, some bamboos were kept in for good luck. But that might also have to do with their incredible versatility- you can grow them either hydroponically, or off the soil.



Aloe Vera

Aloes are just about as resilient as snake plants, and, as a bonus, are some of the most valuable plants you can keep around the house- the pulp of the aloe vera is used for everything from medicine to skin care.



Also commonly known as jade, is one of the hardiest succulents that grow under tropical skies. Requiring sandy soils that are well drained, this plant can grow into a short bush or a climber that creeps down. I haven’t watered my twin jade plants in about 3 days, and they’re still the freshest looking plants in my summer-scorched garden!



Succulents being so easy to grow, they are also wildly sought after for their interesting foliage. Your best bet would be to grow several species in a large pot or on a window box, for the most attractive display.


I’ve broken this post up into two, keep watching this space for more!


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