Tropical Foliage Plants With Large Leaves (With Their Picture and Name) – Identification Guide

Tropical Foliage Plants With Large Leaves

Tropical plants with large, exotic leaves are perfect for adding lush foliage to indoor spaces. Big-leafed indoor plants from tropical regions generally grow well indoors. For example, tropical foliage plants such as philodendron, monstera, fiddle leaf fig, and dumb cane plants bring the tropics to a room. Also, colorful exotic plants with red, purple, orange, or white leaves do wonders to improve any room’s interior.

The beauty of growing tropical houseplants is that they thrive in average household heat and humidity. While it’s impossible to grow tropical plants outdoors in temperate regions, it’s easy to grow them in pots indoors.

This article is a guide to some of the best tropical houseplants with large leaves. If you are keen to grow exotic foliage plants indoors, you will find something to suit your home’s interior on this list.

About Exotic Tropical Foliage Plants with Large Leaves

Exotic tropical, large-leafed houseplants are generally leafy plants that grow in tropical or subtropical rainforests. Most tropical foliage plants grow outdoors in USDA zones 10 through 12. Outdoors, big leaf tropical plants thrive in dappled sunlight and relatively humid conditions such as jungles or the tropics. Tropical plants are not tolerant of cold conditions.

Most tropical plants that are suitable for growing indoors are relatively adaptable. This means that you don’t have to turn your home into a tropical jungle to grow exotic plants. For most indoor tropical plants, average room temperatures and relative humidity of at least 40 percent is usually sufficient.

The outstanding feature of large leaf tropical plants is their lush, exotic foliage. The large green or colorful leaves can be the focal point of any room. The broad leaves can fill out a corner of a bright room to make a bold statement. Or some vining tropical houseplants can fill hanging baskets, and their trailing stems can add a tropical vertical accent.

Where to Place Plants with Large Leaves

Exotic large houseplants with sizeable tropical leaves grow in most rooms of the house. Generally, it’s best to choose a place in your home away from direct sunlight. But it’s good to check how much light the tropical foliage plant requires. Some tropical plants need bright indirect sunlight, whereas other exotic varieties are shade-loving plants.

The height and spread of tropical houseplants determine where to place them. For example, a small potted philodendron will grow well on a desk or near a window. But a large, big-leafed Swiss cheese plant may need to be placed on the floor and given plenty of room to grow.

Some tall tropical houseplants are ideal for placing in a bright corner. For example, the bird of paradise (Strelitzia), dumb cane plants, and a fiddle-leaf fig can grow around 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall.

However if you don’t have much room but want to grow a tropical plant with large exotic leaves, then African mask plants are ideal as they don’t grow very tall.

The Best Tropical Foliage Plants with Large Leaves (with Picture and Identification)

Let’s look in more detail at the best tropical, large leaf foliage plants to grow indoors for maximum effect and to bring a touch of the tropics to your home.

Large-Leaved Philodendron

Philodendron Prince of Orange

Philodendron Prince of Orange

Philodendron plants are well-known for their large tropical heart-shaped, oval, or lance-shaped leaves. Many Philodendron species have trailing vines with large deeply-lobed leaves. You can grow Philodendron plants up a moss pole to create a tall accent or grow in hanging baskets to let the tropical vines dangle.

Philodendron plants are not just green tropical foliage. Some Philodendron cultivars, such as the ‘Prince of Orange, have green and orange leaves. The rare Philodendron Gloriosum has huge stunning green waxy heart-shaped leaves with prominent creamy white veins.

philodendron gloriosum

Philodendron gloriosum

Here are a few exotic philodendron plants that are worth considering for growing indoors:

  • Philodendron Xanadu—The tropical Philodendron Xanadu plant has large, evergreen leathery leaves measuring up to 15” (40 cm) long. The feature of these exotic shiny green leaves is their deep lobes, creating finger-like shapes along the leaf margins.
Philodendron Xanadu plant

Philodendron Xanadu

  • Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’—This philodendron cultivar has large shiny tropical leaves that are deep burgundy to dark green.
Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’

Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’

  • Philodendron Pink PrincessThis philodendron is a tropical houseplant that has large colorful exotic leaves that are pink and green.
Philodendron erubescens

Philodendron pink princess

Exotic Tropical Foliage Alocasia Plants

alocasia leaves

Alocasia leaves

Alocasia plants have exotic, broad leaves that are generally shaped like a heart or spearhead. Some of the larger Alocasia species have leaves up to 3 or 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) long. Many of the potted houseplant Alocasia cultivars have triangular pointed leaves measuring around 18” (45 cm) long.

Alocasia plants go by exotic names such as African Mask Plant, Elephant Ears plant, Alocasia Leopard, and Alocasia zebrina. These common names usually refer to the plant’s exotic leaves or stems.

Alocasia zebrina

Alocasia zebrina

Here are a few exotic Alocasia plants with big leaves you can grow indoors:

  • Alocasia amazonica—This Alocasia is usually named the African Mask plant due to the shape of the tropical leaves. The arrow-shaped shiny leaves have large prominent veins and wavy edges with shallow lobbing. Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’ cultivar has compact growth and is easy to grow indoors.
Alocasia Amazonica

Alocasia amazonica

  • Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’—The Alocasia Frydek cultivar has triangular, velvety green leaves with eye-catching creamy-white veins that create an exotic look. Unlike Alocasia amazonica leaves that are glossy, the alocasia ‘Frydek’ leaves are matte and velvety, hence its other name the Green Velvet plant.
Alocasia Frydek: Care and Growing Guide

Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’

Related reading: How to care for Alocasia plants.

Monstera – Exotic Large Leafed Indoor Plant

Monstera plants are tropical plants that grow enormous leathery green leaves with characteristic lobed and split leaves. Some Monstera plants develop holes in the leaves, giving rise to the common name Swiss-cheese plant. Large monstera leaves grow on climbing vines. The large tropical leaves grow between 10” and 51” (25 – 130 cm) long and up to 20” (75 cm) wide.

Not all species of Monstera tropical houseplants grow leaves so huge. Here are two of the most popular types of monstera you can grow at home:

  • Monstera Adansonii—This Monstera cultivar is a tropical foliage plant that has large exotic ovate leaves that develop oval holes. The other name for the Monstera Adansonii is the monkey face plant.
monstera adansonii care

Monstera adansonii

  • Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant)—The Monstera deliciosa is a large houseplant that has big glossy heart-shaped leaves with deep splits along the leaves margins.
monstera deliciosa Swiss cheese plant

Monstera deliciosa

The Monstera Albo Variegata is one of the most expensive houseplants in the world due to its exotic white and green variegated foliage.

Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata

Monstera Deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’

Colorful Ti Plants (Cordyline fruticosa)

Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa) with red leaves

Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa) cultivars include various shades of red, maroon and magenta leaves. From left to right: ‘Rubra’, ‘Firebrand’ and ‘Lilinoe’

A Ti plant adds colorful, exotic foliage to any room, thanks to its beautiful large red or pink lanceolate leaves. The fiery-looking spiky foliage on Ti plants grows in a rosette shape, and the plant can reach a height of 2 to 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m) indoors.

Names of exotic Ti plant cultivars with stunning foliage include Rubra Cordyline (Cordyline fruticosa ‘Rubra’), Cordyline fruticosa ‘Firebrand,’ and Cordyline fruticosa ‘Lilinoe.’

To enjoy the spectacular multicolored red and green exotic foliage indoors, grow Ti plants in bright light, with a few hours of full sun daily.

Tropical Bromeliad Houseplants (Bromeliaceae)

bromeliads

Bromeliads

Bromeliad exotic plants grow exceedingly well indoors, giving your home’s interior a colorful tropical look. Many plants in the family Bromeliaceae have large, broad, pointed green leaves growing in a tight rosette form. The spectacular feature of some bromeliads is their red, maroon, white, gold, or yellow leaves.

Bromeliad plants thrive in low-light environments. They are ideal exotic bathroom plants due to their need for high humidity.

Caladium – Plants with Exotic Colorful Leaves

caladium leaves

Caladium leaves

Caladium plants are cool, unusual tropical plants with eye-catching colorful foliage. Exotic caladiums have either large heart-shaped (cordate) leaves or strap leaves. The showy multicolored foliage can be magnificent colors such as bright red, deep pink, pure white, or luscious green.

Most tropical caladiums are cultivars of the Caladium bicolor species. The impressive exotic foliage is known for its eye-catching colorful patterns.

Some heart-shaped caladium leaves are deep green with contrasting lipstick red or pink veins that seem to bleed into the leaf. Other caladium cultivars have sizeable white, almost translucent leaves with green margins.

Beautiful caladium cultivars with large colorful leaves include: Caladium ‘Florida Sweetheart’, Caladium ‘Red Flash’, Caladium ‘Moonlight’, Caladium Lindenii, Caladium ‘Bombshell’ and Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’.

Related reading: Caladium Plants: Types and Care.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata

ficus lyrata

Fiddle-Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddle-leaf figs have large oval, glossy leaves growing on a tall central stem. The lush, shiny tropical leaves grow up to 18” (45 cm) long and 12” (30 cm) wide at the broadest part. To encourage healthy growth, it’s essential to ensure you give this fussy houseplant plenty of sunlight and avoid moving it too much.

As a tall tropical indoor houseplant, fiddle-leaf figs grow to 10 ft. (3 m) tall. However, it’s a slow-growing indoor tree, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over your room.

The fiddle-leaf fig gets its name from the unusual shape of the glossy leaves. The leaves are lyre-shaped (lyrate), meaning they have a broad end section and narrow middle. The fig leaves look like the shape of a violin or fiddle.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) – Banana-Like Plants With Exotic Flowers

bird of paradise flower

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia)

Bird of paradise is a spectacular tropical foliage plant with enormous leaves that look like banana plant leaves. The attractive features of the tall and unusual flowering Bird of paradise are its flowers in the shape of a bird’s head and arching green leaves. Grow this tall plant where it gets plenty of indirect light and some full sunshine.

Bird of paradise plants are ideal for growing in a bright corner of a room or conservatory. The indoor varieties of tropical Strelitzia plants grow up to 5 ft. (2.1 m) tall and wide. For a dazzling tropical plant, look for a variegated bird of paradise plant.

Further reading: Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) Care and Growing Guide.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

dieffenbachia plant

Dumb cane (dieffenbachia seguine)

Dumb cane is a big leaf indoor plant with variegated oval leaves that are green and creamy-yellow. There are many varieties of Dieffenbachia, most of which are ideal for growing indoors where there is little light, such as bedrooms. Dumb cane leaves grow up to 20” (47 cm) long and 10” (25 cm).

The large rounded tropical leaves grow on a central straight cane. This makes dumb cane plants ideal for adding height and greenery to a dull corner.

Dumb cane plants also go by the name of Leopard Lily. Some cultivars have enormous, variegated leaves up to 24” (60 cm) wide.

Beautiful dieffenbachia species with large leaves include: Dieffenbachia seguine, Dieffenbachia maculata and Dieffenbachia amoena.

Dieffenbachia plants

Dieffenbachia plants. Clockwise from top left: Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Camille’, Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Rudolph Roehrs’ and Dieffenbachia amoena

Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola

umbrella plant leaf

Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola)

Umbrella plants are attractive tropical houseplants with large palmate leaves that enhance interiors with lush greenery. This jungle plant earns its name from the way the foliage is arranged like an umbrella. Groups of shiny small leaves grow in a circular pattern on the ends of long stems. There are also variegated umbrella plants with beautiful cream and yellow leaves.

variegated schefflera arboricola

Variegated schefflera arboricola

Tropical umbrella plants are fast-growing and mature at the height of between 4 and 8 ft. (1.2 – 2.4 m) tall. For best results, place the potted plant in bright filtered sunlight to keep the foliage lush and healthy.

Canna Lily (Canna indica) –  Colorful Exotic Flowering Plants

Canna Lily (Canna indica)

Canna Lily (Canna indica)

Canna lilies are beautiful green or variegated leafy tropical plants with colorful exotic flowers. Large leaf blades grow between 12” and 24” (30 – 60 cm) and up to 8” (20 cm) wide. The tropical leaves grow on arching stems that grow between 1.5 and 8 ft. (0.5 – 2.5 m) tall.

Canna lilies also grow clusters of spectacular flowers that stretch up above the large pointed ovate leaves. The red, yellow, or orange flowers add to the exotic appeal of indoor or outdoor canna lily plants.

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) – Houseplants with Large Colorful Leaves

croton plants

Croton variegatum plants

Croton plants have some of the most colorful and exotic foliage among the tropical plants that thrive indoors. Multicolored exotic croton plant leaves can be shades of red, green, yellow, orange, and bright yellow. Additionally, among the 100 or so Codiaeum variegatum cultivars are plants with large leaves that can be egg-shaped, oblong, lanceolate, or violin-shaped.

Generally, tropical indoor croton houseplants don’t grow taller than 3 ft. (1 m). The large leaves grow in dense clusters to create a colorful exotic statement in a modern interior.

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)

Persian shield light requirements

Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)

Persian shield is an exotic houseplant with large purple leaves that have an iridescent shine. The purple-leafed tropical plant has lanceolate leaves that grow 7” long and 3” wide (18 x 7.5 cm). The densely growing foliage creates a shrubby potted plant indoors that matures at around 3 ft. (1 m) tall and wide.

Because of its tropical purple foliage, the persian shield plant also goes by the name royal purple plant.

Red Aglaonema

red aglaonema plants

Red aglaonema cultivars. Clockwise from top left: ‘Siam Aurora’, ‘Lady Valentine’, ‘Red Anjamani’ and ‘Super Red Star’

Red aglaonema plants come from tropical habitats and have stunning red leaves with splashes of green. These red-leafed exotic plants have leaves that are heart-shaped or lance-shaped. Some of the most impressive varieties have variegated red or pink and green colors.

The colorful red aglaonema leaves grow between 4” and 12” (10 – 30 cm) long and between 2” and 4” (5 – 10 cm) wide. Growing in pots indoors, the tropical houseplant matures around 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall.

The most outstanding red-colored aglaonema tropical varieties include the ‘Siam Red,’ ‘Red Emerald,’ ‘Siam Aglaonema,’ and ‘Red Anjamani’ cultivars.

Heliconia

Heliconia species

Heliconia species

Heliconia is a genus of exotic flowering plants native to tropical rainforests. The tropical plants are characterized by large banana-like leaves growing between 6” and 10 ft. (15 cm – 3 m) tall on sturdy stems. Another exotic feature of Heliconia plants is the flowers that resemble a bird’s beak—like the bird of paradise flowers.

These large leaf plants with red or orange flowers grow outdoors in Florida and California. However, if you have enough space, you can grow potted Heliconia plants indoors.

Common names for species of Heliconia plants include toucan beak, wild plantain, lobster-claws, and false bird of paradise. Depending on the species, flowers can be orange, pink, red, or yellow.

Calathea — Tropical Plants with Large, Showy, Decorative Leaves

Calathea types and Care

Calathea plants

Calathea is a group of tropical plants that have large green leaves with dazzling patterns. Common names of calathea plants usually refer to patterns on the lance-shaped leaves. Some examples of Calathea plants include the Zebra plant, Pinstripe Calathea, Jungle Velvet Calathea, Medallion Calathea, Peacock plant, and Network plant.

There are several other fascinating features of large tropical calathea leaves. For example, many Calathea species have leaves with green patterned upper sides and purple undersides. Calathea plants are also called prayer plants because their leaves fold up a night like hands in a praying position.

Here are descriptions of stunning tropical Calathea plants with large, decorative leaves:

Jungle Velvet Calathea (Calathea warscewiczii)—Exotic foliage plant with long tropical leaves with a velvety purple underside and green fishbone patterns on the upper side.

The Jungle Velvet Calathea (Calathea warscewiczii)

Calathea warscewiczii

Pinstripe Plant (Calathea ornata)—Big leaf indoor plant with oblong tropical green leaves with white pinstripe patterns.

Pinstripe Calathea care

Calathea ornata

Calathea ‘Medallion’—The tropical Calathea Medallion plant has rounded oval leaves with leaf-like green and lime-yellow patterns.

calathea medallion

Calathea medallion

Peacock Plant (Calathea makoyana)—The name for this calathea comes from the decorative green patterned leaves that look like a beautiful peacock’s tail.

calathea makoyana

Calathea makoyana

Network Plant (Calathea musaica)—The light green leaves on the Calathea musaica species has delicate network-like patterns that look like binary code.

Calathea Musaica (network)

Calathea musaica

Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)

rubber tree plant care

Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) plants

The rubber tree is a tropical plant with thick, leathery, shiny green leaves. Its broad, oval leaves grow up to 12” (30 cm) long and between 2” and 6” (5 – 15 cm) wide. The Rubber tree grows well indoors to bring a tropical touch to brightly lit rooms. Potted rubber trees grow between 6 and 10 feet (1.8 – 3 m) tall.

Ficus elastica cultivars

Ficus elastica cultivars. From top left clockwise: ‘Burgundy’, ‘Variegata’ and ‘Shivereana’

Further Reading: Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica): Plant Care and Growing Guide.

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