4 Easy, Low-Maintenance Tropical Houseplants
By Lori A. Johnson
(Dracaena deremenis “Rikki”)
• Perennial • 4′-10’H by 1′-3’W • Well-drained rich soil • Zones 9-11 • Low to moderate light • Medium water; low maintenance
A fairly new cultivar of Dracaena, Rikki is a hardy and versatile plant that tolerates low to bright light, is pest-resistant, and is known for its relatively high degree of air purification. It’s easily recognized for its yellow stripes that run up the center of this fast grower’s long and narrow waxy leaves.
Why we like it: “The Dracaena Rikki is suitable for varied lighting levels, making it ideal for almost any setting in your home,” Nick tells us. “Its beautiful foliage and dramatic height give it the ability to provide an immediately eye-catching backdrop.”
Alocasia Regal Shield
• Perennial • Insignificant blooms; greenish-white • 5′-6’H by 2′-4’W • Well-drained loamy soil • Zones 9-11 • Bright, indirect light • Medium water; medium maintenance
The giant taro was a crop staple for Pacific Islanders, who used it as a source of starch. Also known as elephant ears, its huge heart-shaped leaves were also useful as umbrellas during tropical rains. The dark green leaves with purplish undersides spread from rhizomes under the soil.
Why we like it: “This fast-growing tropical stunner is a fairly easy plant to care for and its grand stature really draws the eye,” Katie says. It looks especially impressive when placed atop a plant stand for added height.
Cast Iron Plant
• Perennial • 2′-3’H by 1′-2’W • Well-drained soil • Zones 8-10 • Low, indirect light • Low water; low maintenance
Native to China and Japan, cast iron plants are so named for their reputation as nearly indestructible and neglect-tolerant houseplants. Low light- and drought-tolerant, as well as pest-resistant, this slow grower will rarely require repotting. Its glossy evergreen leaves rise from a rhizome to form dense upright clumps.
Why we like it: “With cast-iron plants, a fairly hands-off approach is best,” advises Echo. “This can be wonderful news for someone who is looking to add some lush greenery to their home without adding much responsibility.”
• Perennial • Occasional blooms; white • 8′-12’H by 1′-3’W • Well-drained sandy soil • Zones 9-11 • Bright, indirect to low light • Low water; low maintenance
The Kentia palm, a relatively slow grower for the palm family, especially when grown indoors, will rarely need repotting, though the leaves need space to spread out. It has a single trunk but is often planted in groups of three. This native of Australia is one of the world’s most popular indoor palms due to its tolerance for low light conditions and neglect.
Why we like it: “The Kentia palm will be a welcome addition to your home, creating a relaxing, tropical atmosphere,” Echo says. “The easy nature of the Kentia palm care makes it a perfect choice for a novice plant collector.”