17 Best Indoor Tropical Plants

Houseplants offer instant impact with a splash of greenery that adds color and style to any room, whether it’s a bedroom plant or plant that will thrive in your bathroom. Even if you haven’t ever grown anything before, there’s a houseplant for you! We promise that if you give them what they want, you’ll have a happy plant (and you’ll be a happy plant parent!).

Most importantly, start with the right light. Most houseplants are tropical in origin, so they crave lots of bright, indirect light. “The more, the better. In just about every house, your plants are going to want brighter light than they get,” says Justin Hancock, horticulturalist with Costa Farms. “Many tropical houseplants come from tropical rainforests where they’re shaded by the canopy of larger trees. But they get light from all around, not just on one side like near a window in your home.”

But just what is bright, indirect light? “You want the plant to cast a strong shadow, but the sun’s rays aren’t hitting the plant,” says Hancock. If the plant is located about a foot or two away from a window, any direct sun is dispersed throughout the room, making it indirect. If you don’t have the right lighting conditions, consider getting an inexpensive LED grow light.

Finally, just because these plants are tropical doesn’t mean they want to stay sopping wet. So don’t drown them! Many tropical houseplants die from overwatering than underwatering. Before giving your plant another drink, poke your finger in the soil. If it’s pretty moist, you can wait.

Here are our favorite tropical houseplants to make your home more inviting.

pink aglaonema chinese evergreen in a plant pot
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Aglaonema

Aglaonema is one of the easiest-care plants you can grow! Varieties include those with silvery streaks or bright pink variegation, which make them super eye-catching.

It’s a great plant for beginners! Aglaonema tolerates low light, but, of course, it’s happier in medium to bright indirect light. Let it dry out between waterings.

the zebra plant haworthia fasciata a tree used for decoration in a house on a white backgroundsarayut Thaneerat//Getty Images

Haworthia

This cute little tabletop plant is native to South Africa. It doesn’t get more than 6 to 8 inches tall, so it’s ideal on a sunny windowsill or end table.

It likes bright direct or indirect light, and it only needs watered every few weeks–which is ideal if you’re a tad forgetful!

houseplant asplenium nidus in sack pot
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Bird’s Nest Fern

If you love the look of ferns, this one is one of the easiest to care for. It has thick, waxy fronds that retain water better than many other varieties.

Give this fern bright, indirect light, and let it dry out halfway between waterings.

bright living room with large houseplant on wooden floor, popular house plantdropStock//Getty Images

Bird of Paradise

In warm climates, this eye-catching plant has gorgeous flowers that look like a tropical bird. Although bird of paradise plants almost never flower when grown indoors, these plants have long, strappy leaves with big impact.

Give them bright light, and water only when the pot feels about halfway dry. Because these are usually sold in large pots and aren’t really tabletop plants, you can’t poke your finger into the soil. But typically, it needs watered every 10 days to 2 weeks.

crassula portulacea plant
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Jade Plant

This easy-care succulent looks like a little tree with shiny round or oval leaves. Originally from South Africa, they were one of the earliest houseplants introduced to Europe.

Give jade plant bright filtered light. Their thick leaves act as water reservoirs, so water every 2 weeks or so.

home plant in white flowerpot, young plant of ficus elastica plant on a light backgroundElena Grishina//Getty Images

Rubber Tree

These sturdy houseplants are an old favorite with glossy dark green or variegated leaves and a strong upright form. Native to the jungles of India and Malaysia, the rubber tree can top out at 6 to 10 feet tall indoors.

Give it bright light, keep it out of drafts, and water when the soil is dry to the touch.

window light shining on lucky bamboo houseplant in comfortable modern living room

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Lucky Bamboo

This adorable plant is one you almost can’t kill. Native to tropical Africa, the lucky bamboo plant actually is a cutting of Dracaena sanderiana, a foliage plant. The bottom leaves have been stripped off so that it resembles bamboo. (It’s actually in the asparagus family.)

It will tolerate low or medium light. If planted in soil, keep it slightly moist. If displayed in a vase of water, change the water weekly so that the roots are covered.

potted sansevieria cylindricaTYNZA//Getty Images

Snake Plant

If you’re not the most attentive plant parent, this is the best choice for you. Snake plants basically thrive on neglect and can go for several weeks without water. Native to Africa, there are many different varieties now available.

Give it bright light, though it will tolerate low light levels. Water when the top few inches of soil are dry. Snake plants don’t tolerate overwatering, so, if in doubt, wait a few days and poke your finger in the soil again.

aloe vera
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Aloe Vera

This succulent probably is native to the Arabian peninsula, but it now grows all over the world. Aloe vera likes bright light, and you can take it outdoors in the summer months, if you’d like (but gradually acclimate to full sun so it doesn’t burn).

Water only when the pot feels dry, about every 2 to 3 weeks. The plant is handy because it’s been studied to treat minor burns; snap off an outer leaf and apply the gel-like substance to aid healing.

 
dracaena marginata a potted plant isolatedkav777//Getty Images

Dracaena

The strong upright form of this native South and Central American plant makes a statement, so it’s a great floor plant.

The two most popular types are Dracaena fragrans, called corn plant, and Dracaena marginata, called dragon tree. Both like moderate to bright light and constant light moisture.

bright living room with houseplant on the floor in a wicker basket
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Parlor Palm

Palms definitely give a feeling of the tropics with their bold foliage and texture. This is one of the easier types to grow with long stems and feathery fronds. They will tolerate lower light levels, but keep them lightly moist.

golden pothos or epipremnum aureum at window in the bedroom home and gardenFeelPic//Getty Images

Golden Pothos

Quite possibly the easiest tropical to grow (besides snake plant), this vining plant looks amazing on a bookshelf, end table or nightstand. Originally from the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia, pothos will tolerate low light but grows faster in bright indirect light.

It also may lose its variegated color in low light conditions. Let the soil dry out between waterings because it will not tolerate being soggy.

monstera deliciosa palm house plant
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Swiss Cheese Plant

There are several different species of Monstera that go by this common name, but the one you’ll see most often is Monstera deliciosa.

It grows in the tropics of North and South America. Give it bright indirect light, and wait to water until the top few inches of soil feel dry.

potted plant on tableMIXA//Getty Images

Money Tree

Legend has it that the money tree brings good luck! Whether or not you believe it, this handsome little tree, often sold with a central braided stem or as a bonsai tree, is native to Central and South America.

It needs bright light, but rotate the pot weekly so it doesn’t start to lean toward the light. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

tropical 'philodendron selloum' houseplant in basket flower pot
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Philodendron

There are many different types of philodendrons, and they’re generally easy-care and long-lived plants.

Two handsome types to look for include Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum. Most philodendrons like moderate to bright light and watered only when the top of the soil feels dry.

 
closeup of bromeliadJose A. Bernat Bacete//Getty Images

Bromeliad

These exotic-looking plants are native to many different tropical regions of the world, and they need lots of bright light. The most common types of bromeliads have upright water-holding cups, called urns, so they can store rainwater in their natural environments.

Add a few tablespoons of water to the cup, near the base of the plant, and fill it occasionally.

saintpaulia ionanthaDar1930//Getty Images

African Violet

These old-fashioned favorites bloom year-round under the right growing conditions. Originally from east Africa, they grow under a forest canopy so they don’t like direct sunlight.

Keep African violets about a foot away from a bright window. Water from the bottom (place the pot in water and let it soak up moisture for 30 minutes), or the top. But keep water off the fuzzy leaves so they don’t rot.

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