4 Easy to Grow Flowering Tropical Plants

by ColettaTeske

Add color to your home and garden with a flowering tropical plant. Desert Rose, Silver Vase, Star Fire Lily, and Peace Lily make perfect easy to grow container plants.

Flowering tropical plants give any garden, patio, or living room an exotic touch of brilliant color. In colder climates, flowering tropical plants can be grown in containers and moved indoors during the winter months. In warmer climates, these plants grow outdoors all year long.

Here's a selection of four flowering tropical plants that are easy to grow, have interesting foliage even when the flowers fade away, and are perfect for container gardening. Enjoy this tour of the Desert Rose, Silver Vase, Star Fire Lily, and Peace Lily plants. You'll find big, bold pictures along with growing tips and recommended reading if you'd like to learn more about these plants.

Add a Splash of Color to Your Home and Garden

Enjoy a tropical vacation in your own backyard

Look at any tropical scene, a view of an island paradise, and there will be big, bright, and bold flowers scattered along the landscape. Walk along the streets in Hawaii, Florida, or Fiji, and hear the tourists marvel at the abundance of hibiscus and plumeria flowers. The vibrant colors are hard to ignore.

Hawaii isn't the only place in the world where bold, bright and beautiful tropical flowers grow in abundance. You can grow these gorgeous blooms in your own yard, on a sunny patio, or near a bright kitchen window. With plenty of sunlight, the right amount of water, a little compost, and some pruning, many tropical plants will thrive even in colder climates.

The four flowering tropical plants featured here all grow in our garden and have been a part of our landscape for five years and longer.

  • The Star Fire lily with its bright orange ball of flowers is our favorite and has been in the family for 20 years.
  • The Desert Rose makes a perfect bonsai specimen with its knotted trunk and bright, bell-shaped flowers.
  • The Silver Vase Plant stands guard in the garden with its sharp spiked flowers.
  • The Peace Lily adds calm and serenity to our backyard oasis.

Star Fire Lily

Star Fire Lily
Star Fire Lily
A big ball of flaming orange flowers

This bursting ball of vibrant orange goes by many names. Around our home, we call it Star Fire. It is also called African Blood Lily, or Blood Lily for short, and Fireball Lily. No matter by which name it is called, it will always answer to its botanical name, Scadoxus multiflorus. The Star Fire is not a single flower, this large ball is a thousand flowers arranged in a globe.

We live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9 and our Star Fire lilies begin to push through the soil in May. By early June, the giant 6 inch diameter balls of bright orange flowers are in full bloom while the plant's green foliage is still in the early stages. Within a couple of weeks, the flowers fade away but the leaves adorn our garden until the late Winter.

The Star Fire bulbs can be grown in containers or planted in a sunny spot in the garden. We have had success with both methods.

After the flowers have faded
The leaves of the Star Fire Lily grow long after the flowers have faded
The leaves of the Star Fire Lily grow...

Here's what this plant needs to thrive

  • In early Spring, before the plants sprout, add compost to the top 4 inches of soil around the flower bulbs.
  • In the early summer, when the plants have quit blooming, cut off the dead flower heads.
  • In late fall, as the leaves begin to die back, cut off the plant just above ground level.
  • In the winter, cover the ground around the plants with mulch to protect from freezing. Container grown plants can be stored in a garage or basement.
  • Divide the bulbs every 2 to 3 years when the plants become crowded.
Learn more about Star Fire Lilies
  • If you live in a colder climate and would like to grow these lilies, the Missouri Botanical Garden has a fact sheet with detailed growing directions.
  • For an in-depth look at these plants, the University of Florida published a study for commercial growers on the effects of day length, shade and other variables.

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Desert Rose

Desert Rose
Desert Rose
Pretty flowers with an interesting stem

It's not just the flowers on our Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) plants that catch the eye, the trunks on these miniature trees are a twisted tangle of interesting textures. This knotted and curving trunk of the Desert Rose makes it an ideal specimen for Bonsai enthusiasts.

Desert Rose is bursting with bell-shaped flowers during most of the spring. As the weather warms into summer, the flowers drop off the plant, leaving a luscious bush of leaves. The plant will drop its leaves in the late summer and quickly grow a new canopy of leaves. As winter approaches, the plant will lose its leaves one more time until it feels the warmth of spring.

A close-up of the trunk
Trunk on a Desert Rose
Trunk on a Desert Rose
How to care for a Desert Rose

Other than regular watering, our Desert Rose plants get attention twice during the year.

  • In the early Spring, before the plant sprouts new leaves, we lift the plant out of its container, remove 1/2 inch of the soil from the cadex (the trunk area just above the soil line), add some soil to the bottom of the container, and re-pot the plant.
  • After the plant has been re-potted, time-release fertilizer is sprinkled on top of the soil.
  • In the late Summer or early Fall, after the plant has finished blooming and quits producing new leaves, it is time to prune the plants. The branches on our plants are kept short. Long and leggy branches are cut off.

When the weather is hot and humid, be on the lookout for aphids, one of the few pests that infest these plants. The aphids are easily washed away with spray bottle mixed with 1 tablespoon mild dish soap and 1 quart of water.

Learn more about the Desert Rose plant

The University of Florida has several publications on the care of Desert Rose plants.

Silver Vase Plant

Bloom on the Silver Vase Plant
Bloom on the Silver Vase Plant
A pretty pin cushion

If there's one flower in our garden that everyone wants to touch, it's the Silver Vase Plant (Aechmea fasciata). That is, until they touch it for the first time. Don't be fooled. These flowers may be a delicate pink, but their points are as sharp as razors.

The Silver Vase, also called an Urn Plant, is one of the larger members of the Bromeliad family. As the plant grows, it produces smaller plants that form a clump around the larger plant.

Shade and filtered light are preferred by the Silver Vase. It makes an attractive focal point underneath a large shade tree or in the corner of a covered patio.

Named for the silver striped leaves
Silver Vase plant
Silver Vase plant
Here are a few care tips for the Silver Vase plant
  • Do not water the soil around these plants. Add water to the vase formed by the leaves.
  • Mosquitoes can become a problem. These pests like to lay their eggs in the water held inside the plant vase. Flush out the plants every few days with a garden hose.
For more information

Clemson University has an excellent publication on how to grow bromeliads. It contains growing information that pertains to all bromeliads and a section on the Silver Vase Plant.

Bringing comfort and joy

The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) isn't the most colorful flower in our garden, but it is one that has special meaning to me and one that many people use to send sympathy to loved ones.

Caring for Peace Lilies
  • Peace Lilies love growing in clumps of several plants bunched tightly together.
  • Keep the plants in an area that gets bright, indirect light.
  • In the early spring, add compost to the soil. This fertilizer gives the plant an extra boost before the blooms start to appear.
  • Container grown plants can go two years before moving the plant to a larger container.
  • Peace Lilies love water. When the plant begins to wilt, it's an indication that it may be time to water the other container plants in the garden.
These resources will help you care for your Peace Lily plants

Find Pictures of Tropical Flowers on Pinterest

Follow the Tropical Flowers Board
Follow Tropical Flowers on Pinterest
Follow Tropical Flowers on Pinterest
Updated: 09/01/2014, ColettaTeske
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ColettaTeske on 09/14/2014

Thank you, Dustytoes! I think that desert rose is the brightest flower in our garden.

dustytoes on 09/14/2014

I especially loved to grow bromeliads when I lived in Florida. Love that desert rose you have!

ColettaTeske on 09/04/2014

Thank you, EmmaSRose! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Our garden is our joy.

ColettaTeske on 09/03/2014

Thank you, Mary Beth! The Desert Rose is one of my favorites, too!

mbgphoto on 09/02/2014

Beautiful flowers and photos. I particularly like the Desert Rose.

happynutritionist on 09/02/2014

Thank you for the tip, Coletta, I will keep that in mind, it sounds like yours has grown nicely!

ColettaTeske on 09/02/2014

Thank you, HappyNutritionist! You may enjoy the Desert Rose. You can start with a small plant in a 4 inch pot. My Desert Rose plants are 5 years old and about 12 inches tall. Happy Gardening!

happynutritionist on 09/01/2014

Very beautiful pictures. I am not in a warm climate, in fact the warm weather will be on it's way out in a couple of weeks. I can grow some things inside during the winter depending on the size. Thanks for the link on how to grow certain flowers in cooler climates.

ColettaTeske on 09/01/2014

Thank you, Ruthi! We are so happy the way our Desert Rose plants are turning out. I bought these at a flea market and the little old lady picked them out especially for their trunks. And, yes, that Star Fire Lily is spectacular. You'll be thrilled when yours (finally) blooms.

RuthCox on 09/01/2014

Your images of your tropical plants are just gorgeous! And I appreciate the information shared on how to care for each one. Being that I am fascinated by tree and plant trunks, I applaud the close-up of the trunk of the Desert Rose. But of course, the Star Fire Lily is my personal favorite!

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