What Is Basic Tropical Plant Care? – Backyard Food Growing


The tropical plant displays are always so beautiful when you go to the nursery.

So many of them would look just great in that empty spot in the office or at home.

The plants are so beautiful in the store because they get wonderful care from a knowledgeable staff of people all the time. 

They usually live in a pristine and perfectly tropical environment of a greenhouse or indoor store area. 

How do you keep them that way once you get them home? 

Basic tropical plant care is quite a bit easier than it first appears. The first thing that most people forget is that they are tropical plants. This means they love a warm, humid environment with good airflow. Just like the tropics. 

If you follow a handful of steps and choose the right plants for your particular home and lighting conditions your plant will be much happier.

Tropical Plant Rules 

The first rule for tropical plant care must start out with an understanding that plants do not respond well when we try to put them on our schedule.

#1: Most plants don’t need as much water as we think

#2: They definitely don’t need water on a schedule every week all year long

They will need much less water in the damp winter or rainy months. And of course, they will need more in the summer when the air is drier and the soil dries quicker. If the plant is going to live in an air controlled environment like an office building then the risk of the soil drying out faster is much greater.

Choose the Right Plants

When choosing the plant from the store consider the environment that you are putting it into. 

#3: Choose a plant for the right lighting situation

Some plants are tolerant of lower light levels and others would suffer and die in the same location.

Low light tolerant plants include:

  • Sansevieria
  • Pothos
  • Money Tree
  • Rubber plant

The plants that need higher light levels are marbled Pothos, Zygocactus (Christmas Cactus), and any indoor plant that produces flowers.

The variegated Pothos ‘Marble Queen’ will slowly change to solid green on the leaves if the light level is too low.


Replant your new tropical plant in the pot that it will live for the next few years. Choose a pot that is about 2″ larger in circumference than the pot it is in now.

It can be plastic or ceramic or something else but it must have drainage and be filled with good quality indoor potting mix.

#4: For the soil use a good quality indoor tropical potting mix

If it’s a fast grower then account enough container space for that. Go larger if you need to, but don’t put a tiny plant in a huge container. 

#5: Put it in a place that will be it’s permanent home

Tropical plants do not like to be moved about once you’ve given them a spot in your home or office. Let them get accustomed to one place and they will be much happier for much longer.

sanseveria-267x300-5972525#6: They don’t like to be placed in walkways where people will brush back and forth on them

If you need to put then in a hallway then set them back towards the wall as much as you can.

The best plan for an area like that would be to choose a plant like the Sanseveria that stands tall and straight and doesn’t have leafy branches that lean over and get in the way.

How to Water

I recommend buying a moisture meter, it’ll take all the guesswork out of when to water your plants. Pick up a moisture meter here.

#7: Do not fertilize on a regular schedule, such as every week

#8: Water the plant about half as much as you think you should

#9: Wipe the dust off the plants with a clean, damp cloth

This allows the plant to breath and helps raise the humidity level. The plants will enjoy being misted sometimes, especially in the summer. 

If you do these 9 simple steps then you are well on your way to having beautiful indoor plants.
Don’t mist the hairy leaved ones such as African Violet.

I hope this helps you have better success with growing tropical plants.