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6 Exotic Houseplants You’ve Never Heard Of

In recent years, the charm of houseplants has taken root in homes worldwide; a trend fueled not only by their aesthetic appeal but also by the numerous health benefits they bring. A thriving subset of this trend is the growing interest in exotic houseplants, those fascinating species that boast unique forms, colors, and textures, which can transform our living spaces into a small, personal slice of paradise. But these intriguing plants often come with their own unique set of care requirements. This article will introduce six exotic houseplants you may not have heard of, taking you on a journey through their unique characteristics and sharing tips on caring for them.

Why Exotic Houseplants?

Exotic houseplants, with their diverse and often unconventional appearances, offer an exciting alternative to more familiar houseplants. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these plants can provide air-purifying benefits, helping to cleanse indoor spaces of toxins. A 1989 NASA study found that certain houseplants could reduce indoor air pollutants, and while further research is needed, the possibility that exotic houseplants could be doing the same is intriguing.

Furthermore, these unusual plants can serve as interesting conversation starters, allowing plant owners to share their knowledge and experiences about these unique species. Learning to care for these plants may be a bit more challenging than typical houseplants, but the rewards they offer – from purifying the air to elevating our mood – can make the endeavor worthwhile.

Monstera Obliqua – The Swiss Cheese Vine

Monstera Obliqua, often referred to as the Swiss Cheese Vine, captivates with its distinctive perforated leaves. This South American native is beloved for its intricate foliage and rapid growth under ideal conditions. Its leaves, rich green and full of naturally occurring holes, make it a unique addition to any home.

Caring for Monstera Obliqua requires understanding its tropical origins. It thrives best in bright, indirect light and prefers a humid environment that mimics its natural rainforest habitat. Watering should be regular but moderate, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Also, a nutrient-rich potting mix will ensure its healthy growth.

Calathea Orbifolia – The Round-Leaved Beauty

With its large, round leaves displaying striking silver bands, Calathea Orbifolia is a true eye-catcher. Hailing from South America, this plant is a wonderful addition to any houseplant collection, particularly for those who love plants with an architecturally interesting shape.

This plant’s care requirements involve medium to bright indirect light, keeping it away from direct sunlight that could fade its vibrant patterns. It also prefers a humid environment, so misting it regularly or keeping it in a bathroom with natural light can help it thrive. As for watering, it’s crucial to let the top inch of the soil dry out before the next watering to prevent root rot.

Alocasia ‘Polly’ – The African Mask Plant

Often dubbed the African Mask Plant due to its unique, arrow-shaped leaves, Alocasia ‘Polly’ can bring an exotic flair to any room. With its contrasting veins and dark, glossy foliage, it is an appealing choice for indoor plant lovers in search of something out of the ordinary.

In terms of care, Alocasia ‘Polly’ thrives best in humid conditions, emulating its natural rainforest environment. Regular misting or placing the plant on a water-filled pebble tray can help maintain the humidity levels. Watering should be consistent, letting the top layer of the soil dry out before watering again. It’s crucial to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Anthurium Clarinervium – The Velvet Cardboard Plant

The Anthurium Clarinervium, often known as the Velvet Cardboard Plant, stands out with its heart-shaped, velvety leaves displaying intriguing white veins. Originating from the rainforests of Mexico, this houseplant can turn any space into a tropical paradise.

To keep this plant healthy, provide bright, indirect light, as too much sun can cause leaf burn. Anthurium Clarinervium prefers high humidity and consistently moist but well-draining soil. To prevent root rot, avoid waterlogging the soil; it’s better to underwater than overwater this species. Feeding should be done sparingly with a diluted general-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Pilea Peperomioides – The Chinese Money Plant

The Pilea Peperomioides, often referred to as the Chinese Money Plant, is easily recognizable by its unique round, coin-like leaves. This plant is not only visually appealing but is also often associated with good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture.

The Chinese Money Plant enjoys a bright spot with indirect light and well-draining soil. It’s a good practice to let the soil dry out between waterings to prevent root rot. During the growing season, a monthly feed with a balanced houseplant fertilizer can help maintain its lush appearance.

Ficus Lyrata – The Fiddle Leaf Fig

Last but not least, we have the Ficus Lyrata, or the Fiddle Leaf Fig. Its large, leathery leaves shaped like a fiddle give this plant its common name. Originating from the rainforests of West Africa, it brings a touch of the exotic to any room.

Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig requires bright, indirect light, regular watering with a thorough drying-out period in between, and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. A consistent environment is key, as this plant doesn’t like drastic temperature changes or drafts.

The Bottom Line

From the Swiss Cheese Vine to the Fiddle Leaf Fig, each of these exotic houseplants brings a unique blend of beauty and intrigue to your indoor space. But remember, their unique beauty also means unique care requirements, so be prepared to learn new plant care skills. There’s no denying that caring for these exotic beauties might require a little more effort than your standard houseplant. However, the aesthetic and wellness benefits they bring make the endeavor more than worthwhile. So, are you ready to turn your home into an exotic oasis?


  1. BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. (2022). How to care for an Alocasia.
  2. Plant Care Today. (2022). Anthurium Clarinervium Care: Growing Velvet Cardboard Plant.
  3. The Spruce. (2022). How to Grow and Care for Chinese Money Plant.
  4. Gardening Know-How. (2022). Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care – How To Grow Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees.