Tropical Shade Plants

Last updated on March 31st, 2023 at 06:51 am

Many of you might think tropical plants are all sun-loving plants that prefer to be placed under direct, bright sunlight all day. Indeed, all living beings can’t live without getting enough Vitamin D, but the ‘fact’ that direct full sun area is where all the tropical plants go is certainly not completely true. In reality, many of these tropical plants even wish to live in shady areas! Wanna learn more about tropical shade plants? You’ve come to the right place.

What Are Tropical Shade Plants and Why Do They Pick Shadowy Areas To Thrive?

Tropical plants are endemic plants to tropical and subtropical regions in the world. In their natural home, most tropical plants are epiphytes–plants that live on any other plants without being a parasite. Aside from this, tropical plants are also thriving on the rainforest’s floor, protected from high canopies and higher trees that bloom all around them. Because of this environment, tropical plants have adapted to grow in shady, humid, and warm areas–just like in most tropical regions.

Tropical Shade Plants

Even though most tropical plants grow in shade, various tropical plants prefer areas with the direct full sun too. But generally, most tropical plants are tolerant to heat, meaning they can endure both partial shade or shady areas as well as a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight. Some even can successfully survive in areas with 32-celsius-degree temperatures.

What Are Some Shade-Loving Tropical Plants?

We can break tropical shade plants into 4 categories, that is based on plant types and growing habits. Perennial shade-loving tropical plants are tropical plants that flourish for more than two years or more and survive one after another growing season. Unlike perennial, annual tropical shade plants are tropical plants that only have one growing season. So after the plant completes its life cycle it eventually will die.

Meanwhile, growing habits in tropical plants, as well as in any other plant, can be categorized into several terms. In this article, we pick two growing habits, which are vining or plants whose stems need certain materials like stalks or walls to grow upright. Vines are also known as ‘creeping’ plants and are not limited to growing upright, they can thrive on the ground too. Lastly, shrubs are woody plants that have numerous branches or stems.

Perennials shade-loving tropical plants

Flamingo Lily (Anthurium scherzerianum)

Flamingo Lily tropical shade plants

Also known as ‘painter’s palette’, the flamingo lily is part of the Araceae Family. Its cousins, alocasia, philodendron, and aglaonema, are also part of one of the most well-known tropical ornamental house plants. Flamingo lily is recognized for its glossy, bright pink or red spadix blooms and yellow or whitish-yellow sphate, along with its heart-shaped foliage.

Arrowroot (Canna)

tropical plants grow in shade

If you’re a fan of flowering plants, the next tropical shade plants are for you. This edible plant grows gladiolus flower-like blooms with colors ranging from cream, yellow, and golden, to pink, red, and many other variegated species.

Rain Lily (Zephyranthes)

Rain Lily (Zephyranthes) tropical shade plants

In addition to tropical plants, do you also like rain? Perhaps rain lilies do not sound foreign to you. Rain lilies are part of the Amaryllis Family. As the name states, these tropical plants grow in shade and often show up their white, pink, purple, or yellow blooms after the rain stops. They may attract pollinators but may be poisonous to humans.

Annual tropical shade plants

Fancy-leaved Caladium (Caladium bicolor)

Fancy-leaved Caladium  shade-loving tropical plants

The first annual tropical shade plants are the fancy-leaved caladiums. Known for its massive, elephant’s ear or arrowhead-shaped foliage, this plant is a cultivated species from the common caladiums which grow a combination of pink, white, and green foliage.

Acalypha (Acalypha)

Acalypha (Acalypha) tropical shade plants

Acalypha is an exotic-looking tropical plant with long, tubular, hairy, and caterpillar-like blooms and arrowhead-shaped green or variegated leaves. Commonly known as common three-seed mercury, acalypha is an easy-to-maintain plant that is perfect either in containers, pots, or hanging baskets.

Edible Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Tropical Shade Plants

Edible sweet potatoes are edible tropical shade plants that are also easy to grow. Comes in various leaves color and morning glory flower-like blooms, edible sweet potatoes are perfectly fine to grow both indoors and outdoors.

Vining tropical plants

Moonflower (Ipomoea Alba)

Moonflower (Ipomoea Alba)

If you’re looking for flowering tropical plants with fragrance blooms, you may want to try moonflower. With a beautiful name comes a great-looking flower. They produce 5 petaled, white blooms with slightly yellow centers that blossom during the evening–making them look like a cluster of tiny moons.

Golden Photos (Epipremnum aureum)

Golden Photos (Epipremnum aureum)

Another tropical shade plant with heart-like foliage, golden photos are low-maintenance house plant that mostly grows for their glossy and green with a splash of yellow leaves. Aside from its original color, golden photos also have several cultivars that can grow in striking colors like white.

Black-eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia Alata)

tropical plants grow in shade

Black-eyed susan vines are vining tropical plants growing in shade with 5-petaled yellow or orange blooms and deep dark centers. They produce dark green, betel-like foliage and can be grown in almost every landscape location.

Shrub shade-loving tropical plants

Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia)

Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia)

Tired of flowers that bloom only vertically? Then you might try planting an angel’s trumpet. This tropical shrub native to South America produces countless upside-down, bell-shaped orange or yellow blooms and is famous as an ornamental house plant. Nonetheless, be careful when you touch these gorgeous-looking tropical shade plants since they are poisonous.

Cape Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape leadwort is a spectacular flowering tropical plant originating in Mozambique. They produce clusters of tiny and 5-petaled blooms that can be blue, white, or pink. Because of its resemblance, cape leadwort is often mistaken as creeping phlox. In their native area, cape leadwort can grow as tall as 3 meters.

Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)

heart-leaf philonderon shade loving tropical shrub

Previously known as the sweet-heart plant, heart-leaf philodendrons are tropical shade plants with gleaming, heart-shaped, thin foliage that can be dark green or bright green. They are not the same as golden photos but share a similar look. Just like other philodendron species, heart-leaf philodendrons are not demanding when it comes to maintenance.


As you can see, there are some shade-loving tropical plants that we can easily nurture. As for sunlight requirements, these plants are best living in areas with shady sunlight to copy their natural habitat. Under the right growing conditions, we can make sure these plants will thrive into happy and beautiful plants to add more charms to your house.

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