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Basics For An Indoor Jungle

Oct 11, 2022
By Veronica

You dream about it: a tropical forest in your living room, an explosion of green in your home and nature everywhere you look. It is possible! Be aware however, it is also some work when you need to bring your babies to the tub for their fortnightly shower (Some would even say weekly).

If you are a beginner, then you might start with the toughest plants (see article here). But if you feel that you are ready for a new challenge with big rewards at the end, then you will find here a selection of plants that will truly give you the WOW factor. So you can loose yourself in the tropical forest realm.

What is the main rule for a Jungle look? It is all about mixing.

Mix the sizes

Mix the textures

Mix the patterns

And don’t forget: Use the floor, tables, shelves, desks, chairs, any little space you have AND the ceiling! We are making a canopy!


Mixing the sizes

Have plants of different heights. Start your setting with the large ones (up to 2m high, some will grow even more). They give the structure, like the trees of your garden. You can use  for this:

- Palms: the Kentia Palm is a narrow and tall one that will tolerate lower light conditions and is best suited if you have less space. TheAreca palm is a bushier option but not as tall and of a slightly lighter green.

– Fig Trees (ornamental): the ficus is an houseplant classic coming in a wide range of leaf size and shape. Make some room for the ‘Lyrata’ for example. Not as common as the ‘Benjamina’ it also may be easier to grow. As a rule, Ficus don’t like cold draught or being close to heating sources.

- Dragon tree: the Dracaena is a forgiving plant and probably your best option when you look for something tall but not too demanding.


Areca Palms and Ficus Elastica  in the background with bromeliads and caladium for colour.

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


For medium-sized plants (app. 50cm tall), here are some options tolerant of lower light conditions.

-The Peace lily: the Spathiphyllum is a traditional favourite and relatively easy to grow. Although tolerant of some shade, it will flower best in a spot with plenty of indirect sunlight.

-The Cast Iron and the ZZ Plant: when creating a tropical forest, it is good to consider some very easy, shade and dryness tolerant plant like this. They will offer a beautiful backdrop for more striking plants. (More info and growing instructions in this article)


Cast Iron Plant with variegated devil’s ivy

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre



The little ones (up to 20cm)

Ferns are ideal for a tropical look as they inspire something fresh and lush. They can be planted on their own or at the base of larger plants where you have less space. They work well indeed with orchids and palms for example.

If you want to know more about these, we wrote an article dedicated to them and how to grow them here.


Selection of ferns

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre 


Mixing the textures

Not all leaves are the same! Some are leathery, velvety, papery… Some reflect the light when others absorb it. Just like you would not use only one plant everywhere in your garden but rather combine a few to ‘draw’ or ‘paint’ an ever changing display outside, it is best to combine different textures so they stand out even better.

Have, for example, the almost metallic Alocasia ‘Red Secret’ against the airy Maidenhair fern or the velvety Begonia Masoniana close to the leathery Ficus elastica.


©PhotosVeronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre



Maidenhair fern with Peace lilies and Devil’s Ivy

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Mixing the textures with Asparagus ferns, Alocasia Polly and Bromeliads.

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre



Mix the patterns and colours

We cannot stress it enough: there is a wide variety of leaves and even more so when it comes to indoor plants. It seems, like the fauna, the flora in exotic countries takes the most distinctive colours and patterns with stripes, like the dieffenbachia or even polka dots like the Begonia Maculata.


Distinctive veined foliage of the dieffenbachia

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Begonia Maculata and Alocasia Polly

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


They are not in rest when it comes to colour either, with bicolour leaves or striking pinks like in Caladiums for example.

Calathea and Caladium

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre



Caladium and Begonia

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Bromeliads make also a great addition and despite their fancy look, they are actually not too fussy. Make sure you water the centre of the rosette of leaves as it is where they would collect rain water in their natural habitat.


Red Guzmania and Vriesea with phlebodium (Blue fern)

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Aechmea and Vriesea  with Alocasias and a Kentia palm

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Aechmea Blue Rain with Calathea, Begonia and Tradescantia

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


Finally, no jungle is complete without a good amount of trailing plants, hanging from the ceiling. The options vary depending on how much care you can give to them.

If you are very consistent then air plants are perfect! They need regular misting, so not really a good choice for the forgetful gardener. But simply splendid when you want this Bayou look!

Hanging down: Tillandsia and string of pearl

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


A bit less maintenance for a lush effect the ivy, either the English ivy (hedera) or the devil’s one (Epipremnum) can trail down from your tall pieces of furniture and soften the angles. The same goes with the lipstick plant, although a small and high table might be best to show it off.

English Ivy, String of Hearts and lipstick plant trailing down over Alocasia Zebrina.

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


For the beginner or the busy bee, there are very forgiving plants like the string of pearl, the string of heart or the rhipsalis. They will tolerate to be forgotten as they are succulents and can store the water.

©Photo Veronica Lopes, Windyridge Garden Centre


To conclude, you understood it, it is all about quantity and variety. Creating an indoor jungle is engaging in the ‘dangerous’ path of starting to collect plants!

There are certain things to bear in mind:

  • A tropical forest is humid, and you may need to keep the humidity levels fairly high. To do so, you can place your plants over saucers filled with hydroleca and water . The roots of the plants should never sit in water, however. You may place your plant in a pot cover or on a saucer (empty) and put the lot onto the larger saucer with water. Another way to raise the humidity is to add a water feature. You will enjoy the sound of it while your plants will benefit from the droplets.


  • Adapt your display (location and type of plant) according to the light. Some plants need more light than others, some can take direct sun (like the succulents) others prefer dappled shade. Choose plants with similar needs to avoid rot and other issues.


  • Going away? If you go for a week or two only, most of your plants will be fine. But if you go for longer and there is no kind soul around to attend, there are kits like this on the market to help you keep your pots moist.


Here you are, all set. And we are always available for you, in store, for further advice!

Happy planting!

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Basics For An Indoor Jungle