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The What, Why, and How of Tropical House Plants

January 1st, 2010

What Exactly Is a Tropical House Plant?

Dieffenbachias in my yard

First of all, is it supposed to be houseplant ( one word ) or house plant ( two words )? I just googled *house plant*, and it asked me “Did you mean: houseplant”. So Google wants to make it one word. However I looked in my old Webster’s Dictionary, and houseplant is not even there. I guess that makes it optional.

A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors, in your home or office. Most often it is used for decoration, but it also helps to purify the air, since plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.

Tropical houseplants are those that are native to the tropical regions of the world. In such a climate they thrive year-round, and grow to much larger sizes than they would reach in your house. Since I live in the tropics, I can vouch for the fact that my outdoor gardening consists largely of cutting back the foliage, so that it doesn’t take over.

The term “tropical houseplant” is somewhat redundant, since most house plants are originally from the tropics, and consequently have a better chance of surviving in the warm interior of a home or office.

Why Would I Want to Grow Tropical Houseplants?

Oleander - pretty, but not a houseplant

My personal reason? What makes it all worthwhile is the sense of satisfaction when the cutting I get from a friend finally turns into a beautiful plant. It takes skill and a lot of luck to deal with the unique problems of each individual plant. And sometimes, I fail. But, more often than not, I end up with a plant that I am proud to exhibit.

How Do I Take Care of Tropical Houseplants?


Each variety of plant has its own requirements. In nature, a plant will thrive in a location that has what it needs. But when we put the plant in a pot, and bring it into our house, we have to make sure that we simulate its natural setting as much as possible.

To survive, tropical houseplants need light, warmth, and moisture in varying amounts. To thrive, we must also consider such factors as nutrients, size and type of pot, and pest control.

Future posts to this blog will go into more detail about the what, where, and how of growing tropicals indoors.

Note: The pictures above were taken of the Professor’s garden, and show the rampant growth of tropical plants in their native environment. In future posts, I will show pictures of some of my houseplants.

May your thumb always be green

…The Professor, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Throw Away Your Toxic Drugs!
You Do Not Need Them,
If You Have Aloe – Nature’s Miracle.

14 Responses

  1. TC (1 comments) Says:

    Great info Professor. I have one very large “tropical” houseplant, the rubber tree you saw in the picture over at my blog. I’ve already brought it in, maybe a little too soon, but I spoil it because it’s very special to me.

    I keep many other houseplants through the winter months, each requiring more or less attention. Sometimes I want to be rid of them all, except for the Ficus.

  2. walk2write (3 comments) Says:

    Hello, Professor. I saw that you commented on my comment on TC’s site. You are lucky that those fire ants don’t bother you much. If I don’t wash my skin and put lavender essential oil on the bites immediately, I end up with welts that itch and then burn, persisting for several days and sometimes weeks. Great information on house-plants. I just bought a bromeliad, and I’m hoping my daughter will remember to water and feed it until I get back. Can you grow those outside in zone 10?

  3. Payday loans (1 comments) Says:

    Thanks for the information. my dad has always had houseplants.

  4. Toronto Pest Control (1 comments) Says:

    Thats right. I a tropical house plant needs to be at a place that has plenty of sunlight andwarmth. Watering often is also a good thing.

  5. Lavender (1 comments) Says:

    I have tried to grow leafy palm trees inside, but after a while they get a sticky substance on them and eventually die. I have had good luck with Christmas Cactus. I don’t have great luck always, but I keep trying!

  6. cash advance software (1 comments) Says:

    House plants are great, thanks for the great pic’s and info!

  7. Jerry (1 comments) Says:

    i love having tropical houseplants, it really helps me relax and pretending i’m in the tropics is a great way to start that up. i think that everyone should do this, it might decrease stress levels across the board.

  8. Gardening Enthusiast (1 comments) Says:

    I love growing tropical house plants! I completely agree, there’s just something there that gives pride when it flourishes 🙂

  9. Health and Wellness (1 comments) Says:

    Tropical plant’s doesn’t need a lot of watering, the more sunlight the better. Btw, thanks for sharing.

  10. Pablo yo (1 comments) Says:

    Great blog!!
    If you like, come back and visit mine:

    Pablo from Argentina

  11. Professor (6 comments) Says:

    Hi Pablo –

    I realize your post is blatant self-promotion – maybe even comment spam – but I really like your website, even though I don’t speak Spanish! I used to collect stamps back in the ’40s.


  12. jon @ losing belly fat quickly (1 comments) Says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. My mom loves houseplants and still has a lot to this day. I need to take time out and grow some myself. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  13. uk house clearance (1 comments) Says:

    tropical plants can make a room very inviting, quite a few shops do that and make it feel nicer and like one of your posters say that are easy to look after

  14. Growing Houseplants (1 comments) Says:

    A great thing about growing houseplants is that they help you to enjoy plants and gardening all year long.

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