Tropical Plants - Exotic Foliage and Colorful Blooms

The biggest misconception about tropical plants is that you have to live in a tropical or subtropical location to create and maintain an exotic looking garden or landscape.

Exotic plants can be overwintered inside as houseplants, and brought outside to thrive during the warmer months as part of your garden or landscape. Keep them planted in attractive containers that can be moved with ease.

Tropicals can thrive in many climates with proper planning, planting and care.

An old shed can be turned into a greenhouse, or you can build one from scratch. Storing your plants in a separate, climate friendly building will give you extra space for experimenting with seeds and cuttings, or repotting plants when necessary.

Adding hardier tropical plant look-a-likes to your garden or landscape will accomplish the exotic look and feel you desire, while reducing the amount of time you spend on care and maintenance of true tropicals and subtropicals.

Tropical Plants for Your Home, Garden, and Landscape

Silver Vase Plant

Aechmea fasciata (also known as the Urn Plant or Silver Vase Plant) are one of the most popular tropical plants belonging the bromeliad species. They are commonly kept indoors as houseplants; however, they can be displayed outdoors as long as they are brought inside before the first frost.

Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera Plants (Aloe Barbadensis) are believed to be native to Africa, and are best known for the medicinal uses of the gel-like sap inside their leaves.

Ivory Pineapple Plant

Ananas comosus (also known as the Ivory Pineapple and Variegated Pineapple) is grown for its long green leaves vertically striped with ivory along the leaf margins studded with sharp (sometime pink tinted) spines.

Angel Wing Begonia

The Angel Wing Begonia (also known as Begonia carollina and Cane Begonia) gets its name from its wing-shaped foliage. It is both a popular outdoor plant and houseplant due to its distinctive foliage and colorful flowers.

Anthurium Plant

The Anthurium plant belongs to the Araceae family, and is a tropical genus of over 800 species. Anthurium flowers (also called Flamingo Flower or Tailflower) are popular houseplants, and a favorite addition to tropical flower arrangements.

Billbergia Nutans

Billbergia nutans ( also known as Friendship Plant and Queen’s Tears) can be found growing on tree branches in the South American rainforests. It is a popular bromeliad that is easy to grow and share with friends and family.

Bird of Paradise Plant

The Bird of Paradise tropical plant adds exotic elegance and dramatic color to interior décor and outdoor landscapes. The best known species of the bird of paradise plant is Strelitzia Reginai. This plant is native to South Africa, and can be planted year round in USDA zones 9 through 11.

Boston Fern Plant

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis Exaltata) are native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, and are known for their elegant arching fronds. These popular ferns add interest, texture, and graceful beauty indoors as exotic house plants, as well as outdoors in the garden or landscape.

Starfish Bromeliad Plant

Cryptanthus acaulis is a small bromeliad – ideal for a humid location in the home. Mature plants are 5 in/12.5 cm high and 6 in/15 cm across. This bromeliad is primarily grown for its sharp-tipped wavy leaves.

Cyclamen Plant

Cyclamen persicum makes a beautiful accent to display indoors during its mid-winter blooming season. Brightly colored flowers bloom from upright stems growing from the center of the plant.

Elephant Ear Plant

The Elephant Ear Plant is a striking tropical plant known for its large exotic foliage. It makes a dramatic backdrop for landscapes, gardens, and home interiors. This large leaf plant belongs to the Araceaea family, and can be planted year round in USDA Hardiness Zones 8B through 11.

Ginger Plants

Ginger Plants (Zingiberaceae) contain around 1,000 species of tropical perennial herbs. Some gingers are cultivated for their edible rhizomes, which are used as both a medicine and a culinary spice.

Scarlet Star Bromeliad

Modern varieties of Guzmania lingulata (also known as Scarlet Star) are smaller than older strains. Scarlet Star is one of the most popular bromeliad house plants. Cultivars produce blooms in a variety of colors, such as bright yellow, orange, mauve, and lavender.

Blushing Bromeliad

Neoregelia carolinae gets the name Blushing Bromeliad due to the way the leaves in the center of the plant turn bright red as the plant begins to bloom. The flower itself is not showy, staying hidden deep inside the crown.

Poinsettia Plants

The Poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a perennial shrub that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It is native to Mexico and Central America. The Poinsettia gets its name from Joel R. Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the United States when he was U.S. minister to Mexico in 1825.

Rex Begonias

Spectacular Rex Begonias, also known as Fancy Leaf Begonia, Painted Leaf Begonia, Iron Cross Begonia, Begonia rex, and B. masoniana to name a few, produce large leaves that are marked with dramatic colors, such as pink, green, silver and burgundy.

Shrimp Plant

The tropical Shrimp Plant (also known as Justicia brandegeana and Beloperone guttata) is an evergreen perennial shrub with small elliptical green leaves. It is distinguished by its inflorescence, a curved display of soft overlapping pink and yellow bracts that enclose small white flowers, blooming continuously from summer to autumn.

Spider Plant

Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are herbaceous perennials belonging to the Liliaceae family. They are  hardy, versatile plants that can be displayed outside in containers, or planted as ground cover.

Pink Quill Bromeliads

Tillandsia plants (also known as Air Plant, Sky Plant, or Pink Quill) receive moisture and nutrients through the leaves. Most Air Plants do not have roots. Some species do have roots; however, the roots are primarily used to anchor the plants in place.

Flaming Sword Bromeliad

Vriesea splendens (also known as Flaming Sword, Painted Feather, and Zebra Bromeliad) features rigid, strap-like arching leaves, marked in irregular horizontal bands of dark green and black, which form a tight vase in the center.

Wax Begonia

The Wax Begonia (also known as the Begonia semperflorens-cultorum and Fibrous Begonia) is known for its round, thick, waxy leaves – giving this colorful flowering plant its common name. The leaves are usually dark-green in color.

Zebra Plant

The Zebra Plant (also known as Aphelandra squarrosa and Saffron Spike) is a member of the Acanthaceae family, native to Brazil. This tropical evergreen plant is best grown as a houseplant. Potted plants grow to 15 inches (38 cm), ideal for pots that are 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

Popular Pages Related to Tropical Plants

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Plant Containers – Choosing the Right Planter

Growing Ginger - Tips for Ginger Plant Care

Begonia Care - Solutions to Common Problems