Many houseplants are native to the tropics and many can thrive in the atmosphere of most homes, including homes found near lakes. What might make a lake house a bit different from other homes is the humidity that comes from the lake and the intensity of the sunlight that reflects off the water. The climate around a lake house is probably cooler than the area around it. A good tropical plant for a lake house might appreciate high humidity, a good amount of sun and temperatures that might be a little cooler than those found in their native land.
1. Brazilian Edelweiss
This plant has an unusual if beautiful look with its woolly gray leaves and roseate, tube-shaped flowers. It is grown from tubers and started in vermiculite. When the plant germinates, it should be watered deeply, and the potting mixture should be allowed to dry out before the plant is watered again. This is a plant for a bright window. It also needs a good deal of humidity and benefits from being misted. During the growing season, fertilize Brazilian edelweiss every month or so. This will help the plant put out flowers continuously until it goes dormant in the fall.
The gloxinia is grown for its spectacular flowers, which can be red, blue, white or multicolored. Like the Brazilian edelweiss, gloxinia is started as tubers in vermiculite. Keep it in moist potting medium and in a warm location. To produce flowers, the gloxinia needs a moderate amount of sunlight and lots of humidity. It should be fertilized every two weeks or so. Once it is put in an area of the home, gloxinia should be left there, for sudden changes in temperature or light can shock the plant. The leaves wane after the blossoms drop, and the owner should taper off watering until the plant goes dormant. Then, store the dormant tubers in a pot over the winter, and repot them again in February. Like the Brazilian edelweiss, the gloxinia is native to tropical Brazil.
3. Umbrella Plant
Native to Madagascar, the umbrella plant gets its name because it has leaflets that sit on top of a stems and shade the lower parts of the plant like umbrellas. This plant is related to the papyrus, and it is one of those rare plants that likes wet feet. The soil should be constantly moist, and the pot should be kept in a saucer filled with water. The umbrella plant does best in full sunlight and coolish temperatures, which makes it just right to put out on the deck of the lake house. This plant also has the added attraction of being able to scrub toxins out of the air. It is a notoriously fast grower and can grow as tall as 8 feet, but the owner can pinch it back to keep it a manageable size.
Browallia, or sapphire flower is a plant that is wonderful for a hanging basket in an east or west window. It has star-shaped blossoms of a deep blue that give the plant its name. The flowers are not only beautiful but long lasting. The sapphire flower does best in cool temperatures, even though it is native to Columbia and the American tropics. It should be fertilized every two or three weeks during the growing season and can be pinched back if it starts to become leggy. Though the plant is an annual, it’s easy to root cuttings in vermiculite. When the plantings are mature, they can be repotted in regular potting soil. Browalllia can be planted out of doors as a ground cover in hardiness zones 9 to 10, but needs to be protected from strong, direct sunlight.