Justin W. Hancock

A Touch of the Tropics

Yesterday was a long and somewhat frustrating day at the office. Happily, I was treated to something fun when I arrived home: A big, bold, red bloom from my grape-leaf passionflower.

I really love passionflowers and most aren’t hardy outdoors where I live so I have to bring them in the house every winter unless I treat them as annuals and buy new plants each year.

Keeping exotic, tropical plants in the house sounds like it must be hard, but it’s not as bad as you might think. I don’t put any more effort into growing passionflowers, for example, than I do a big old ficus I inherited from a coworker years ago. The tropicals do fine indoors as long as you have a bright enough spot for them — under natural or artificial light, so even if you don’t have a good window for them, you could set up a low-cost shop light in a corner.

If they get enough light, all you need to do is keep them watered — just enough to prevent them from wilting, but not so much that the soil stays moist all the time. If the leaf tips turn brown, the air is probably a little dry, but grouping plants together can help, as can setting a small humidifier nearby. (Get more tips for increasing humidity here.)

Do you grow any houseplants? If so, comment below to share your favorites!

2 Responses to “ A Touch of the Tropics ”

  1. That red passionflower is just overpoweringly-drop-dead beautiful. How great that you can grow and bloom such beauties with a grow light!

  2. Malinda — You can grow such beauties, too! I hope this blog post has inspired you to try. :-)

    —Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com