How to Create an Indoor Jungle with Tropical Plants

 

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If you’re reading this I’m assuming your #housegoals consist of owning lots of plants. There are many inspiring photos on Instagram and Pinterest of modern homes with tons of greenery. It’s not as difficult as it might look to get that jungle look. Most of these plants are tropical, and will grow quite luscious if you treat them right. Tropical plants is just a broad term for a variety of species. These plants are equatorial, native to humid and sunny parts of the world and are leafy.

 

What kind of plants should I buy?

Light

First you should consider how much light you get through your windows, before going plant shopping. It is much harder to change your light, than how much you water. The majority of us have low light indoors, which is actually fine for these tropical plants. It’s one of the reasons why tropical plants are the most commonly sold house plants. In nature they are shaded and only get sun through open areas between the leaves of the larger trees. Tropical plants are also much tougher than other plants. If mistreated, they grow back quickly.

Southern windows are optimal for growing any kind of plant; But southern windows are likely too strong for most of these plants, particularly if you keep them up close to the window. Western facing windows tend to be best for tropical plants, it gets the strong afternoon light which does well for big growth. Eastern facing windows get morning sun, which is generally fine for many tropical plants. Northern get the least light, and you will be limited to what can grow successfully. You can always increase your light by setting up some grow lights however.

Important Note: Windows cut down 50% of sun light from the reflection of the glass, and the further the plant from a window, the less light it gets. Keep this in mind, and try to move plants around to find the best arrangement.

Here is a list of my favorite tropical plants based on how much light then need to look good. None of these need super strong light like a cacti or succulents but some need more light than others:

 

Higher light (western facing windows, or slightly removed from a southern window)

Monstera deliciosa AKA Split Leaf Philodendron

Bird of Paradise

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Rubber Tree

 

Medium Light (keep close to a western or eastern facing windows)

Silver leaf pothos (note these are poisonous to cats and dogs)

Prayer Plant

 

Least light

Peace Lily

Dieffenbachia

Spider Plant

Snake Plant

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Parlor Palm

 

Tropical plant care

 

Water and Humidity

You should be trying to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the top inch or two of soil dry out before watering. If your humidity is really low, you might find yourself needing to water almost every day.

Misting the leaves frequently is a major key to success with tropical plants. They can absorb the water through their leaves, and it will also increase the humidity momentarily. Humidity is a tropical plant’s best friend. Humidity in the 50% range is optimal. If your humidity gets in the low 30s you will find yourself watering very frequently, and leaves will probably start to look droopy if you mis-step on watering. One of these hygrometers is super helpful for keeping this in order.

 

You can raise humidity by:

  • Creating a humidity tray: Fill a tray with pebbles, and keep water sitting in the tray. Place the plant on top of the pebbles. This area will be more humid than the rest of your home.
  • Misting the leaves frequently
  • Keeping a humidifier on

 

Soil

A regular potting mix will do fine for these plants. Adding some fertilizer (buy organic!) every month or two will keep them thriving.

 

Choosing a Pot

Glazed pots, or plastic pots will be good for retaining water. Self-watering pots are great. I particularly like this brand. I would not recommend using pots that do not have a drainage hole, however tropical plants will do better in these than most any other plant. Do not fill the bottom of the pot with rocks! This is widely spread bad advice, that will lead to soggy dead plants.

Want to learn the basics of indoor gardening? Check out these posts:

Everything You Need to Know About Water

Everything You Need to Know About Light

Everything You Need to Know About Soil

Everything You Need to Know About Fertilizer

Everything You Need to Know About Plant Pots

How to Repot Plants

How to Get Rid of Pests Naturally