Bring the Heat: Indoor Plants That Like It Hot

It’s official: July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, “We have always lived through hot summers. This is not your grandfather’s summer.”

We are fortunate living in San Diego where the weather remains close to perfect most of the time, but we are feeling the heat and especially the humidity. If it seems more humid lately, it’s not your imagination. Warmer ocean temperatures generate more humidity.

Auto accidents and heart attacks go up with the time change, but crime goes down. Photo: Bucky Lastard/Pixabay - Creative Commons

Some plants – like people – are true sun worshippers and love hot growing conditions. Photo: Bucky Lastard/Pixabay – Creative Commons

Many houseplants come from jungle regions where the tree canopy constantly filters the light. As a result, they can thrive in the lower light of an inside location. However, some plants, especially those native to South Africa and Australia, need ample sunshine to thrive. You can transform a bright room with a pretty planter and one of these houseplants that crave the sun’s rays.

When you feel the heat, so do your plants. Hot summers can be rough on your plants, even your indoor plants. If you’re trying to conserve energy and save money (and you should!) and not blast the air conditioning, plants can suffer. Plants not native to warm climates or already weak due to poor care, pests, or other issues need extra care.

When it’s warm, plants speed up their version of metabolism, including photosynthesis and growth. It’s nature’s way of taking advantage of positive growing conditions. But this developed long before global warming. Plants thrive as long as temperatures remain 90 degrees or below. Above this, they decline. Plants that aren’t heat tolerant suffer even more. The longer it stays warm, the worse it gets.

It’s not just the air. High temperatures also heat the soil, and this hurts your plants. Container plants are especially sensitive to heat taking hold in the soil. Roots will try to grow deeper to find cooler temperatures and more moisture, but containers don’t provide much relief. If your plants wilt in the later afternoon or show brown burn marks on their leaves, this could be your problem.

Don’t ever water your plants when it’s warm outside. Instead, water deeply in the cool of early evening. Photo: Pezibear-Pixabay/Creative Commons License

Tip: Hot soil can heat the water up to the point it boils the roots of your plants! Ideally, water deeply later in the cooler evening hours when plant roots can absorb water and protect themselves from heat during the day. There is also less evaporation loss into the air.

In warmer climates and temperatures, you can give yourself a head start by choosing heat-loving plants already adapted to higher temperatures. They are native to hotter, drier climates and have developed leaves and roots to make the most of any moisture.

This doesn’t include a lot of tropical plants. They may live in warm parts of the world. But they often grow under thick canopies of trees in nature where the shade keeps the air cool and humid.

Looking for a few suggestions? We won’t let you down. Here are some proven choices with the ability to thrive when it’s warm.

  1. Succulents

Colorful and creative succulent dish garden.

Not a surprise, right? This family of plants are gaining popularity across the world. They’re especially trendy right now due to their low-water-use and low maintenance.  The thick leaves of most succulents store every bit of moisture they can. This is why they thrive on human neglect too. Remember – every cacti is a succulent, but not every succulent is a cacti

  1. Aloes

Planter featuring Aloes.

These tough succulent plants can survive in nearly any conditions with good light. In addition to the common Aloe Vera, there are lots of hybrids available with interesting spear-shaped leaves. Aloes grow well in direct sunlight, but appreciate a little shade. Just be sure to water every few weeks.

  1. Pothos
The sturdy Golden Pothos makes our Top Ten list. Photo: Elvis Ripley, Flickr

The sturdy Golden Pothos makes our list. Photo: Elvis Ripley, Flickr

Is there any circumstance where a Pothos doesn’t do well? Other than full sun, we can’t think of any. Pothos is a popular choice for nearly anyone. Their trailing stems and striped leaves combined with their ability to thrive anywhere make them ideal houseplants. They don’t need a lot of water so even when it’s warm they can tolerate it. Their large leaves transpire and release excess water into the air to cool themselves, and this provides a boost of humidity in your home or office too. Check them out growing wild in Hawaii – their leaves are three feet across!

  1. Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvate)


Image by Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

Ponytail palms (also called elephant’s foot) trees don’t need much attention. They are native to Mexico and love a bright sunny spot. The plant stems draw moisture from its reserves, so let it dry out a bit between watering and don’t overwater.

  1. Geraniums

Geraniums love heat whether outdoors or indoors. Photo: Pasja1000/Pixabay

Geraniums are sun worshipers! They are popular landscape flowers, but there are indoor varieties too. If you have a screened porch, patio, or an old school sunroom, put some geraniums in large containers, and they will provide beautiful color. Just don’t put them in the dark.

  1. Umbrella Plants

Umbrella plants come in multiple varieties and sizes. Photo: Nathalie Cone/Pixabay – Creative Commons

Umbrella plants love to sit in a sunny window. If they are in direct sun, keep the soil moist with a thorough weekly soaking. But don’t let the roots get too soggy. Keep an eye on the underside of the leaves for pests and just wash them off with soapy water.

  1. Crotons

Few indoor plants can compete with the colorful leaves of the croton. Photo: PaulBR75/Pixabay

These plants are known for spectacular variegated leaves in all kinds of colors. The leaves are thick and heavy and hold water well. The leaves take on more intense colors of red, yellow, and orange when exposed to more sunshine. Just like umbrella plants, keep the soil moist, but not completely wet.  In Hawaii they are used outside and made into hedges.

  1. Yucca

This beautiful yucca photographed in Arizona by Robert Shea is flourishing in sunlight, but they will also be happy in a sunny window. Photo: Robert Shea/Flickr-Creative Commons License

If there is one thing yucca plants crave, it’s sunlight.  Put your yucca in a tall or deep container or these tall plants might tip over. The deeper container will also let you water deeply but less often. You might only water once a month. This makes for a happy yucca.

Do your indoor plants need a little extra care this summer? Would you rather hand your plant care at your office over to an expert to give you a little extra leisure time this summer? The horticultural experts at Good Earth Plant Company are here for you! Give yourself a break and give us a call at 858-576-9300, or email us at