9 low maintenance tropical house plants to bring home this spring
Uncurling from dark winter days, we will soon be relishing the sunshine, serotonin and signs of floral growth brought by spring.
Proven to reduce physiological and psychological stress by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system, indoor plants can be a cheap, simple and ornamental means of boosting your mood.
Easy to care for and introducing a funky tropical touch to your home, the botanical beauties we have suggested below will brighten your smile and your mind.
African violets | Saintpaulia
Flowering time: Possible all year round
Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats, dogs and horses.
Maintain a constant moisture in the plant’s soil and don’t allow it to dry out completely.
Water the plant from its base and drain well afterward to avoid foliar spots, root rot and damage.
African violets with light green leaves need less light than those with dark green foliage.
Natives of tropical rainforests in east African countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, African violets possess small flowers with colours ranging from blue, violet, pink, red-violet, blue-violet, lavender-pink and white.
Lovers of a warm, humid environment, this little plant will be kept happy in toastier rooms, such as the kitchen or bathroom, where the air is slightly more moist.
Misting, a technique involving a spray bottle filled with room temperature water to gently sprinkle plants, is great to keep African violets in tip top condition.
Naturally found basking in second-hand sunlight, dappling through a deep forest canopy, these purple-flowering plants despise the burning glare of direct rays; pop them on a window sill behind a sheer curtain or in a space with indirect bright light and they will love you.
(Turning their pots frequently will also help the violets stop straining themselves for the light).
Soil wise, African violets prefer a peat-based mixture with plenty of perlite – about 50 percent so their fine roots are not bogged down by heavy, wet compost.
Drainage is key with these flowers so hydrate carefully with tepid water that has stood for a day or two. Ideally, just leave a container with lukewarm water on the side to top up the plant every few days when the soil is less moist.
Flowering time: Usually just once in its lifetime, but the plant leaves are just as stunning
Toxicity: Generally non-toxic to pets but there are over 3,000 subspecies so it is always best to check beforehand.
Keep these guys away from radiators and cold draughts.
A tropical head-turner, these vibrant rockstars of the botanical world come from South and Central America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
Forming a collective family of many subspecies known as Bromeliaceae, the most famous of which is the pineapple, bromeliads are distinguishable by their brilliant bracts – shades include electric blues, hot pinks, reds, oranges and vivid multicolour.
You will also be glad to hear that these spiky stunners are tough guys too. Reliable, resilient and adaptive, bromeliads are most happy with a constant degree of warmth, light and humidity.
Moreover, as with many plants in this list, bromeliads love a loamy or fast-draining soil which keeps in a little moisture. Watering wise, these plants will be satisfied with a fortnightly hydration directly into the rosette created by its leaves; more delicate bromeliad subspecies may require a different amount so check before you buy!
Crown of thorns | Euphorbia milii
Flowering time: Peak bloom is late spring and summer
Toxicity: Sap irritates human skin, eyes and mouth, toxic to pets.
Don’t be put off by their toxicity – just keep this plant out of pets’ and childrens’ grasp.
Wear gloves to avoid contact with the milk sap and spiky thorns.
If growing from scratch, propagating cuttings is more reliable than sewing seeds.
Displaying gorgeous emerald leaves throughout the year, crown of thorns originated in Madagascar, first appearing over 5,000 miles away in Europe in the early nineteenth century.
Now a household favourite, these colourful plants can reach two feet in height, are drought-tolerant and simple to grow. Fans of bright light and full sun, these sturdy succulents exhibit showy bracts (leaves) in hues of orange, red, pink, yellow, or white.
Easy-going, crown of thorns enjoy the same temperature as we do, capable of surviving lows of 2°C.
In fact, these hardy plants will even forgive you if you miss the occasional watering, although it is best to flood them with fluid when the top inch of soil is dry – make sure you drain the pot properly and remove any excess water from dishes to avoid root rot.
As for their bed, a sandy, quick draining soil or cactus/succulent compost with a generous dollop of perlite is ideal for crown of thorns.
Lastly, a simple way to keep poisonous indoor plants like this out of the reach of children is to place them up high, on isolated shelves, which do not have furniture or other access points surrounding them.
Cranesbills | Geraniums
Flowering time: March to June
Toxicity: Toxic to pets
Use containers with good drainage.
Don’t shock geraniums with sharp shifts in water levels or temperatures – they won’t respond well.
Mist spray with tepid water each month or so to remove dust build up – it helps keep them happy!
Usually spotted swinging serenely in hanging baskets, geraniums have long been a gardener’s staple.
Arriving in Europe in the 17th century, geraniums first called South Africa home where 250 subspecies still grow to this day. A genus of 422 species, geraniums largely inhabit Mediterranean regions, mountainous tropics and temperate areas across the globe.
Facts aside though, how difficult is the care regime for geraniums?
Although a bit moody in very cold weather, geraniums are actually content in this country’s cooler temperatures.
Thriving best in 18 to 20°C, geraniums are fairly robust and flourish best with six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
Blooming in pink, salmon, red, purple or white, geranium flowers should blossom perennially with the correct attention – don’t be daunted though, these plants don’t require much!
Savouring the hermit lifestyle, geraniums like being pot bound with aerated soil which avoids blocking drainage holes.
Other than maintaining an evenly moist soil and allowing the top third of it to dry out between waterings, you are good to go!
Flowering time: Late a spring to early summer (even autumn on some occasions)
Toxicity: Non-toxic to pets
Never re-pot hoya carnosa when in bloom, they could lose their flowers.
Indirect bright light is needed for this plant to bloom.
A picture of porcelain perfection, hoya carnosa plants are rewarding and relatively simple to care for.
Suitable for tall spaces, conservatories or high bathroom shelves, these waxy wonders are natural climbers who derive from parts of Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands as part of the Hoya genus.
An exemplary house plant to have in spring or summer, you will not find yourself regretting the the ownership of these wax wizards – especially considering this plant’s love of being pot-bound.
Simple care steps include re-potting them every two to three years, keeping your hoya carnosa out of direct sunlight and helping them stay warm in a space which is about 15 °C or above.
Again, aerated soil works best for these starry-eyed sensations but they are versatile, and work with a variety of soils which allow airflow through their roots.
Possibly the most important measure to keep hoya carnosa pleased is to mist them regularly with a spray bottle – just a quick spritz of tepid water whenever you make a cup of tea or pass your plant in the bathroom.
As for watering, keep the soil moist but not wet.
Heart-leaf philodendron | Philodendron hederaceum
Flowering time: Summer
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and cause possible human skin irritation
Wear gloves when handling.
If the leaves are brown, your plant needs water – yellow leaves indicate that the plant has been overwatered.
A brilliant green friend who will thrive in a variety of light levels, philodendron plants are tropical and call the Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela their native home.
Capable of existing contentedly in your cooler British household, philodendrons are hardy and will survive most humidity and light levels; they can still grow in shade without sunlight but will just produce smaller leaves.
Beautifully shaped into different hearts, this subspecies of philodendron, like the majority, is low maintenance. Just ensure you grow this fast-climber in a tall space with partial light and water whenever the top few inches of soil are dry.
Speaking of which, soil that is high in organic matter and contains perlite or vermiculite will help your philodendron prosper.
Peace lily | Spathiphyllum
Flowering time: Spring and summer, with impressive foliage all year round
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people
Wipe down the leaves a couple of times a year as they are large and collect a lot of dust.
Make sure to check your lilies for marks before purchasing as this could be an indicator of sunburn or cold damage.
Check for insects and mites who like to live in the leaves
Originating from the tropical rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela, these sweeping plants are accustomed to sitting peacefully on the forest floor in their natural habitat; they adore reclining in constant moisture and speckled light.
Introduced to Europe in 1870, peace lilies are said to have many positive symbols including rebirth, hope and prosperity – an ideal house plant for this season.
Reaching up to half a metre in height, peace lilies are one of the most popular species of large, indoor potted plants. A great statement piece for your living room, these lofty plants are just one of many which transform the interior of your home into an Edenic retreat.
Peace lilies aren’t fans of draughty spaces though and can be sensitive to chemicals such as fluoride which are found in tap water – filtering room temperature water is a simple way round this.
Unlike many other plants, peace lilies are happy not to be fertilised frequently either. They do need bright, indirect sunlight though as well as a moist, not saturated, compost.
Purple shamrock | Oxalis triangularis
Flowering time: Summer but the purple leaves are the eye-catching feature of this plant
Toxicity: Toxic to pets
Fertilise your purple shamrock every couple of weeks – they will reward you!
Use a loamy or sandy soil.
Allow surface soil to dry between waterings which should be a few times a week.
Also known as false shamrock, this pretty, plum-painted plant is made up of a 550-strong genus, all native to the tropical climates of South America and South Asia.
A clever and intriguing specimen, purple shamrock possesses a photonastic response, opening up its leaves during the day and closing them at night. Very fitting considering their particular nature.
Despite being a relative charm to take care of, purple shamrock are a little fussy when it comes to some of their living habits.
The temperature, for instance, is best kept at approximately 16 – 24°C. Anything above 26°C and purple shamrocks will likely wilt and go dormant.
This aside, keep them in indirect sunlight in well-drained, slightly alkaline and fertile soil, and your shamrocks will be happy.
ZZ plant | Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Flowering time: Mid summer to early autumn
Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets
Keep out of reach of pets and children as plant digestion will cause stomach upset.
Avoid heat sources like radiators and fires – these plants do prefer some moisture.
Incredible water retention specialists, ZZ plants are undoubtedly great if you are forever forgetting to douse your plants. They do not require watering regularly, just when their soil beds have completely dried out. Perfect for providing greenery to homes with less water!
Native to regions of east Africa from Kenya to South Africa, ZZ plants are notoriously one of the easiest indoor plants to take care of, requiring very minimal care.
Although appearing last on this floral list, the ZZ plant is probably the hardiest of them all.
Able to withstand some serious neglect, this evergreen is a champion of many different climates, soils and light levels – they will just grow more slowly the less of these elements they have.
All in all, this sturdy evergreen is practically unkillable and makes an amazing house plant for a beginner plant parent!