10 exotic house plants

A wide variety of tender exotics can be grown as house plants. To grow them successfully indoors, it’s important to understand a little about their native habitats.

For example, a plant that is native to wet, dark forests will thrive in a steamy bathroom, while a plant from hot deserts would be better placed on a sunny windowsill.

Discover 10 varieties to try, and learn how to care for them, below. All plants featured should be readily available from nurseries in the UK.

And have a look at the larger images in our house plant gallery.

Adiantum venustum

This delicate fern benefits from free-draining compost, and frequent watering. As it has a seasonal growth pattern, you’ll need to trim off old or brown fronds in the spring, then feed with a balanced fertiliser in the summer.

Aechmea ‘Blue Rain’

Aechmeas are related to pineapples and have similarly hard, spiky foliage. The rosette of leaves forms a ‘cup’, for watering into. Regular misting and applications of foliar feed will help keep aechmeas healthy. Grow them in bright light, but not full sun.

Begonia ‘Princess of Hanover’

This begonia holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit. As with other begonias, it can be propagated by pinning a leaf to compost and slitting the leaf surface. Keep it warm, in a shady spot, to encourage bright leaf colouring, and water when the compost is dry.

Brugmansia suaveolens ‘Weinstrasse’ (angel’s trumpet)

Angel’s trumpet can be kept outside over summer, but needs a well-lit, cool conservatory in winter. Water plentifully and mist regularly, to keep red spider mite at bay and produce a show of spectacular flowers.

Ficus benjamina ‘Golden King’

‘Golden King’ is an elegant ficus bearing gently drooping, shiny leaves. Some people are allergic to its rubbery sap, but you’re unlikely to need to prune it. Keep it warm and water frequently, letting the compost start to dry out before watering.

Guzmania ‘Tempo’

Guzmania ‘Tempo’ produces an evergreen rosette of foliage, and a spectacular red inflorescence, which lasts for approximately six weeks. Provide it with warmth, day and night, keep the leaf ‘cup’ filled with water and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Nepenthes ‘Rebecca Soper’

Nepenthes ‘Rebecca Soper’ is a carnivorous plant, which drowns insects in its liquid-filled ‘pitchers’. Keep it indoors, in a humid, shady spot and water frequently with rainwater, rather than tap water.

Pelargonium ‘Dark Secret’

One of the regal pelargoniums, ‘Dark Secret’ is a handsome variety with very large flowers. It should be grown in a non-draughty spot, with good airflow. Water it more in summer than winter, but only when the compost is becoming dry, and cut back in autumn.

Streptocarpus ‘Roulette Azur’

Summer-flowering streptocarpus perform best in a shady spot. Mist plants and water the soil, allowing it to dry out before watering again. You can generate new plants from old by planting leaf slices in compost.

Tillandsia cyanea

This bromeliad is native to Ecuador, where it grows on tree trunks. Its pink flower stalk is the perfect foil for the blue flowers, which are produced intermittently. Tillandsia cyanea should be grown in free-draining but moist compost, away from direct sunlight.

Thanks to the following house plant specialists who provided information on the plants in this feature:

Dibleys Nurseries

Fibrex Nurseries Ltd

Hampshire Carnivorous Plants

Just Airplants

Naieus Exotics

Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: 10 exotic house plants
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mummycrafts 12/07/2012 at 19:29

I was quite excited at the prospect of some new exotic plants then huge let down when I saw what you were reccomending, I grow more exotic than this already including curry leaf trees (indoors) ginseng and Orchids in my conservatory

SFord 13/07/2012 at 13:35

Can anyone recommend some houseplants I can try? I have a conservatory which has full sun all day in the summer and is heated in the winter. I currently grow the usual such as aloes, mother in laws tongue, Christmas cactus, various succulents, pitcher plants, and at the moment chillis and peppers but want something with a bit more'wow' factor with regard to flowers etc. I have lots of wide windowsill space but not too much floorspace for large plants such as palms or vines. I have found that it is far too hot and sunny for plants such as orchids or other houseplants who prefer to be out of direct sunlight

I also have an issue with red spider mite. Can this be reduced by misting and perhaps keeping a bowl of water to increase humidity? Any advice greatfully received.

Emma Crawforth 13/07/2012 at 16:21

Hello SFord,

Red spider mite can be a real problem in a hot conservatory. Have a look at our advice on how to deal with it. Do raise the humidity as you suggest. This should help, but I've know it to live quite well in humid places as well as dry ones. You can spray your plants with SB invigorator as recommended in adam's latest blog. That keeps them at bay. Also try giving the conservatory a top-to-toe clean out every winter.

As for plants, bougainvillea should suit your conservatory.

Good luck,


gardenersworld.com team

SFord 17/07/2012 at 11:18

Thanks for the advice Emma - will do

flowering rose 16/10/2012 at 16:10

well I am glad I read about two of these extoic plants as I have just bought 2.they look good how long they will last I am not sure.

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