Create An Exotic Look Indoors

With tropicals or indoor foliage becoming increasingly popular, people are looking for ways to create an exotic look indoors.  In this article, I’ll share with you five tropical plants that can help create that exotic tropical look you’ve been hoping for.  We’ll also go into the care of each of these various plant choices.


Also known sometimes as “shadow plant”, “peacock plant” or “cathedral windows plant” are exotic-looking foliage from South America. Native to the forested jungles in that region, this foliage can tolerate very low levels of light. Great for rooms with little to no natural light, Calathea can add a very exotic look to a room. Even though there is often plentiful water in rainforest regions, there is also tremendous competition for that water. Soils routinely dry out between watering and rains and this plant also prefers to dry out slightly between waterings. Allow the top one inch or so of the soil to become dry before you water again.  Browning or crisp leaf edges on this plant can be signals of over OR under-watering.


These exotic plants can be found in many tropical regions but primarily in southeast Asia and Australia. Croton has exotic and colorful foliage and the most common variety is likely the Petra croton. Its wide oval leaves have bright and colorful veins making them great additions for color in a room. Croton prefers bright and well-lit spaces. Rooms with windows are a must. Many crotons have been killed from overwatering. Allow this plant to show evidence of wilting before you water again. Also, it is best to keep this plant away from drafts and cold.


Native to South America and parts of Mexico, the dieffenbachia can make a great shrub or indoor tree. Depending on the variety, many "Dieff" can grow as tall as 5 ft. Broad leaves are often dotted with irregular patterns. These plants often receive a bad reputation as they are known to have mild to moderate toxicity to some “furry kids”. Use your own discretion as to whether or not these foliage options are right for your home. There are smaller cultivars that may fit on window sills or plant shelves where your pet may be less likely to reach them. The biggest killer of this plant is often overwatering.  


The marginata is one of many in the dracaena group that make easy indoor plant options. Shrubs to small trees, the marginata is native to eastern Africa and the region of Madagascar. Known often as the Dragon Tree these plants can tolerate both high and low light environments making them extremely versatile foliage options. Though tolerant of darker conditions they should not remain there indefinitely. The opportunity for good light should be offered to this plant at least part of the year if you wish it to thrive for you.  


And the “best for last” as it were, the famous Monstera. This plant genus has become widely known, even garnishing its own hashtag and day of the week. Monstera Monday has been a thing for years on social media where people share some of the most unique monstera they have. The common Swiss Cheese Plant or ‘Monstera delicosa’ is probably one of the most widely known leaves when it comes to thinking “tropical”. These “aroid” plants hail from regions of Central America and Mexico. In their native habitat they climb trees and use large aerial roots to attach themselves to the bark. Aerial roots can reach the diameter of your pinky finger and can hang down many feet. Here at Handy Andy’s we often refer to the concept of keeping a Monstera as “losing a game of Jumanji”. We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on exotic foliage options for indoors. We always look to be a resource for you when caring for or selecting plants for any part of your home. Be that indoors, or out. Good luck, and Happy Growing!


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