How to Care for An Obscure Tropical Houseplant

How to Care for An Obscure Tropical Houseplant

Caring for obscure tropical houseplants can seem intimidating, but with the right information and techniques, you can keep even the most unusual species happy and healthy. As the proud owner of an obscure tropical houseplant, I have learned through trial and error how to meet these plants’ specialized needs.

Choosing the Right Plant

With thousands of tropical plants to choose from, selecting the right obscure species for your home is key. Here are some tips for picking an obscure tropical houseplant that will thrive with your care:

Consider Your Climate

Most tropical plants prefer warm temperatures, high humidity, and bright, indirect light. Before choosing a plant, make sure your home environment can provide the temperature, humidity, and light levels the plant requires.

Some factors to consider are:

  • Daytime temperatures – Many tropicals prefer daytime temperatures between 70-85°F.
  • Nighttime temperatures – Cooler night temperatures between 60-70°F are usually fine.
  • Humidity – Most tropicals prefer 40% humidity or higher.
  • Light – Bright, indirect light is ideal for most species. Low light can result in sparse, leggy growth.

Choose a Smaller Plant

Selecting a younger, smaller plant can make an obscure tropical easier to care for. Older, larger plants can be more challenging as they are less tolerant of changes in environment. A smaller plant will also adapt more easily to your home.

Research Your Options

Spend time researching different obscure tropical plants and reading care guides to choose one well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Some examples of obscure but beautiful tropical houseplants include:

  • Rex Begonia
  • Night-blooming Jasmine
  • Waxplant
  • Elephant’s Ear
  • Medinilla Magnifica

Talk to Plant Experts

Speaking with staff at your local nursery can provide invaluable advice about selecting and caring for obscure tropicals. Experienced plant experts may be able to recommend uncommon species that are surprisingly easy to maintain.

Providing Proper Care

Caring for unusual tropical plants is often simply a matter of providing for their basic needs. Here are some best practices to help your plant flourish:


  • Maintain ideal day and night temperatures.
  • Move the plant away from drafty windows or doors.
  • Use a space heater or window AC unit if needed to keep the plant within its preferred range.


  • Place the plant near an east, west, or north window for bright, indirect light.
  • South facing windows may provide too much direct sun. Use sheer curtains to filter the light.
  • Rotate the plant occasionally so all sides get adequate light exposure.


  • Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Pour room temperature water slowly until it drains from the bottom holes, flushing out salts.
  • Avoid watering on a strict schedule. Check soil moisture instead.


  • Use a humidifier to maintain humidity above 40%.
  • Set containers on pebble trays filled with water to increase local humidity.
  • Group tropical plants together to create a humid microclimate.


  • Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer at half strength every 2-4 weeks in spring and summer.
  • Flush the soil monthly with clear water to prevent salt buildup.
  • Discontinue fertilizing in fall and winter months.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even when provided with proper care, tropical plants may experience issues. Monitor your plant closely for any problems and take quick action.

Drooping or Wilting

This can indicate either too much or too little water. Check soil moisture and water if dry. If wet, allow to dry out before watering again.

Leaf Spotting or Yellowing

This often signals over or under-watering but can also be from temperature stress, low humidity, or pests. Adjust care as needed. Remove damaged leaves.

Sparse, Leggy Growth

Indicates the plant needs more light. Slowly move it to a brighter location, allowing it to adjust to increased light levels gradually.


Isolate affected plants. Wipe leaves with a damp cloth and use insecticidal soap. Check under leaves for bugs. Remove severely infested leaves.

Enjoying Your Unique Tropical Plant

Caring for an uncommon tropical plant has its challenges but ultimately can be a very rewarding experience. With the right care and conditions, even obscure tropicals can thrive, adding beauty and interest to your indoor garden. Do your research, provide ideal growing conditions, and tend carefully to your plant’s needs. Soon you will have a healthy, vibrant new member of the family flourishing in your home.