Tropical Plant Care Indoors & Out!

Tropical Plant Care Indoors & Out!

tropical plants

Tropical greenery and live exotic plants add a verdant and unique texture and form to your home and outdoor rooms. If you are lucky to live in a warm climate that’s frost-free, decorate your landscape year-round!

Often originating from rainforests, native to exotic locations around the world, some can even be grown right here in the US! Thriving in the consistent temperatures and higher moisture availability these frost-free growing zones provide. Temperate regions without a cold winter allow for more vigorous, lush growth and the year-round growing conditions give these plants the time and nutrition to grow bigger leaves, faster growth, and more varied forms!

It’s those unique forms and curious features that are so enticing to us! We’re drawn to these differences and to these plants' ease of care and adaptability in our homes and on our porches, patios, and summertime outdoor living areas!

Tropical Plant Care

Thriving in the heat, soaking up humidity, and appreciating deeper organic soils, enriched containers, and, for the most part, loving soil moisture, tropical plants are surprisingly low maintenance and easy to care for! 


Boston Fern
Most Tropicals are understory plants, living in the shade and dappled shadow of larger more established plants and trees. Others live in the dappled part sun or even full shade! For most houseplants and indoor tropical plants, bright but indirect sunlight is their favored location! Few like full sun indoors because windows seem to focus the light and can sunburn the leaves, causing them to bleach out or fade. 

Low-light plants tolerate indirect light from not just a low-light window or fluorescent lighting from an office space or LED or incandescent grow light from a bathroom or bedroom lamp. Read on our Plant Highlights section on each plant's page for what kind of lighting your chosen plant needs to be happy and healthy! Pothos and Philodendrons are natural in lower-light areas and won’t mind anything except full shade.

  • Bright Indirect Light Indoors
  • Supplemental Light (Grow Lights) If Not Enough Sun
  • Part Sun/Part Shade - Favoring Afternoon Shade Outdoors
  • Full Shade or All Day Dappled Shade Outdoors in Hot Climates

For locations indoors that do not have big bright windows and sunrooms, there are always supplemental grow lights available to extend your light amounts, especially in the winter months when there’s less sun availability in general.

Soil Requirements & Fertility

Prayer Plant

Tropicals need enriched, highly organic, and moisture-holding (but not soggy) soil. Preferring slightly acidic conditions best. Be sure the location or container of your plant (most plants for that matter) are in well-drained soil and have a way for excess water to drain out and away from the roots. Standing water is rarely tolerated and will cause your plant to die. 

In their understory native environments, there is a high availability of leaf litter and composted soil from the larger trees and shrubs they grow among, so recreate that setting by using lots of compost and organic matter for them to grow in. These types of soils also have higher moisture absorption and moisture content. 

  • Enriched Highly Organic Soil
  • Compost, Peat Moss
  • Needs Good Drainage
  • Slightly Acidic
  • Regular Fertility

Furthermore, Tropical Plants may need a half rate of fertilizer quarterly - unless you are in the more northern regions where winter days are short and cloudy. If this is the case, you might want to skip the 4th quarter application (October through December).

Air Humidity & Moisture Needs

tropical plant care infographic

While many prefer higher moisture and consistent watering, they do poorly in soggy soil and quickly succumb to root rot. For in-ground plants in warm climates, regular watering in the heat of summer, and throughout the drier parts of the winter are necessary to maintain a healthy root system. There are some exceptions like the Snake Plant (Sansevieria), Cactus, and Succulents that prefer lower moisture conditions once they're established.

Because of their contained environment, container plants need frequent water checks as the water needs will change depending on the pot size and the climate they are being grown in. Once the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, it is recommended to water thoroughly, let the excess drain out the bottom, and discard it. This will greatly vary throughout the year and the interior environment of your home. In winter time it is recommended to increase air humidity with a humidifier, but back off on how much water you add to the soil. Even though some tropicals may have a dormant period, they do back off on growth and flowering in the lower light levels of the winter months.

  • Moderately Yet Consistent Moisture
  • Regular Water Checks for Container Plants
  • Good Drainage
  • Higher Air Humidity
  • Reduce Watering in Winter (Indoors)
  • Water Outdoor Plants in Heat, Drought & As Needed in Winter

Drier office locations and air conditioners that remove air moisture might make us more comfortable, but they reduce the available humidity that these plants thrive in. Setting your plant's pot in a tray of pebbles that are filled with water (ensuring the water does not touch the bottom of the pot) will help increase the relative air humidity around the plant itself, a humidifier or frequent misting help too! 


The constant temperatures of many of these unique plants' native environments aren't just throughout the year, but also have less of a drop in temperature between day and night! Most houseplants and exotic plants prefer an average relative temperature between 65-75°F. Any temperature dropping below 50°F can spell certain doom! Gradually transition them indoors in anticipation of cooler temperatures so there is not a shock to their system.

Keep your Tropicals away from drafts and dry air vents and heaters in the winter, while keeping them out of the brunt of the full sun in the summers. Container plants on porches will need to be watched, moved, or shaded from the hottest days - especially if they’re not acclimated to the bright sunlight after months of being indoors.

Tropical Plants & Changes in Environment

peace lily

No one likes drastic change! Your plants are the same way. Remember to always slowly transition your indoor houseplants to the outdoors so they can acclimate (get used to) the higher sun intensity and longer daylight hours. This prevents leaves from blanching in the sun and even cooking in the direct light. Keeping their environment steady also reduces leaf drop which is a frequent result of stress.

Likewise in the autumn, when there’s a threat of frost for Northern growing zones, gradually reacclimate your plants to the indoor environment over the weeks before an expected start of the chilly weather to prevent leaf yellowing and leaf drop, like Ficus, Gardenia and some other types of plants. These plants often have a temporary ‘freak out’ when they’ve been moved to a new location inside the home, or transition inside and out (or vice versa) and take a bit of time to adjust to their new surroundings - resulting in leaf drop. 

While distressing to witness, just let your plant adjust and maintain as much consistency as they settle. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to add fertilizer in these times of temporary crisis - but don’t! Forcing a plant extra nutrition that stimulates growth, when it's already stressed, will just cause more stress!

Tropical Plants in Containers and Planters


Because of their love of consistent temperatures and moisture, Tropical plants are perfect for the home environment and in the container gardening landscape! Because you have higher control over what goes into the soil in a pot, you are also better able to control the moisture and fertility too! 

As with any plant in a contained environment, poor drainage is the main killer of any plant bound to a pot. So add drainage holes and always check before watering, adding a tray under the pot to catch any dribbles and excess water.


If your container plant dries out frequently, it might be time to shift your plant to a larger size pot. Knock the plant out of the pot and look at the roots. If there is a mass of roots with little soil between them, it is time.

Don’t cover the new pot’s drainage hole, or use gravel at the bottom. This can slow drainage and speed up occurrences of root rot. If you’re concerned about soil seeping from the container bottom, cover the hole with a folded paper towel or coffee filter. Add some potting soil to the new container. Spread the plant roots, placing them on the soil. Make sure it’s centered and upright. Fill with soil and water well to settle in.

Fertilize at least three times a year during the growing season, avoiding fertilizer in the winter while these plants take a break from growth in the cooler growing zones. If you are in a warmer climate with mild winters, a fourth mild dose of fertilizer will keep your plants healthy in the off-season. 

Types of Tropical Plants at Nature Hills!

It’s no wonder why many of these tropical plants are quite happy to live on our far less than tropical porches and warm snug homes! They are also easy to grow and perfect for the forgetful gardener and the absolute beginner houseplant owner!

Shade Loving Tropicals

Sun Loving Tropicals

Part Sun/Shade Tropicals

  • Peace Lily
  • Calathea
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Polka Dot Plant
  • Macho Fern
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Ferns
  • Croton
  • Snake Plant
  • Ponytail Palm

Large Tropical Plants

Small Tropical Plants

Climbing Tropical Plants

  • Fiddle Leaf Figs
  • Umbrella Plants
  • Australian Tree Fern
  • Palm Trees
  • Fragrant Tea Olive
  • Bromeliads
  • Nephthytis
  • Jade Plant
  • ZZ Plant
  • Succulents
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Swiss Cheese Plant
  • Satin Pothos
  • Inch Plant

Easiest Care Tropicals

Tropical Plants for Pros

Unexpected Houseplants

  • Spider Plants
  • Snake Plant
  • Rubber Plants
  • Corn Plant
  • Bromeliads
  • Palm Trees
  • Ficus Tropical Figs
  • Boston Fern
  • Prayer Plants
  • Maidenhair Ferns
  • Foxtail Fern
  • Fragrant Tea Olive
  • Golden Brush Ginger
  • Kokedamas

Seasonal Outdoor Accents

Spider Plant Outside

These are also perfect for seasonal porches and patios, seating areas, and outdoor rooms throughout the summer months regardless of your growing zone! Either plant as seasonal décor or annual accents directly in the ground, or a potted plant installed in the ground pot and all for easy removal later - gardeners can enjoy these plants outdoors all summer, and when temperatures begin to drop, they can be brought indoors for the winter (gradually)!

Year-Round Greenery Indoors and Out!

Snake Plant indoor

Get your home as green as your garden so you can keep that green thumb from getting dusty over the winter! Improve the air quality inside your home and office, increase oxygen levels, and all the other health benefits that plants provide!

Nature Hills is excited to offer many Tropical houseplants and Tropical landscaping plants for you to enjoy year-round! Improve your life with these incredible plants and enjoy their easy care needs for gardeners of all levels to bring into their homes!

Happy Planting!

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