Tropical plants and a DIY plant shelf.

Tropical-blooming-plants-Little-Big-BellIntroducing you to a world of Tropical blooms, all beautiful in their own way. Tropical-plants-for-the-home-photo-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-BellJust look at this collection that I have managed to purchase from my local garden centre.

Don’t they just transport you to somewhere far and exotic?

For this post, I would love to introduce you to the 3 Tropical Houseplants for the month of May, and show you a fun DIY plant storage idea, which I have customised to display some of my Tropical finds.Gloriosa-houseplant-of-the-month-photo-by-Little-Big-BellThe first houseplant of the month is the Gloriosa or flame Lily which is native to India. It can be found in Southern Africa and other parts of tropical Asia too. Its generic name Gloriosa means full of glory.

Its a perennial tuberous plant that can climb up to 4 metres.Gloriosa-photo-by-Little-Big-BellThe Gloriosa’s flowers are stunning. I love how the fiery coloured petals fold back to reveal the radiating stamens.

Being a medical doctor, I was interested to learn that the Gloriosa contains Colchicine which is frequently used to treat Gout.

However, just a word of caution, the Gloriosa is poisonous to ingestion.

It can be kept both indoors and outdoors, but the temperatures have to be above 18 degrees Celsius. Regular watering and feeding once a week is advised.Anigozanthos-photo-by-Little-Big-BellNext, is the Anigozanthos or Kangaroo Paw. It is found growing wild in South West Australia. Its name is derived from the Greek words ‘Anises’ which means uneven and ‘Anthos’ which means flowers.Anigozanthos-houseplant-of-the-month-photo-by-Little-Big-BellI’m loving its rusty Autumnal hue with red edges,standing out against that lush green of its foliage.

So the Kangaroo Paw is a ‘long day plant’. That means it only flowers when the days provide more than 15 hours of daylight. Unsurprisingly, it only likes warm and dry conditions. That would be the perfect houseplant for those who forget to water their plants, like me.Medinilla-photo-by-Little-Big-BellThe final Tropical Houseplant of the month is the Medinilla or Kapa Kapa, as the natives call it.

It originates from the mountains of the Phillipines, found growing on trees. They are epiphytes, which means they don’t draw nutrients from their hosts.

The flower when in full bloom produces sprays of flowers that hang down and can reach up to 30cm in length. It requires a light position and water only moderately.Medinilla-photo-1-by-Little-Big-BellIt’s such a shame that my Medinilla hasn’t fully bloomed yet to justify its beauty, but here is what it looks like under the petals.

I mentioned at the start of the post, that I would customise a DIY plant storage idea. Here is the one created by The Joy of Plants to house the May Houseplants of the Year mentioned above.Blooming-Tropical-plants-on-Little-Big-BellHow pretty are those hanging pink Medinilla in full bloom.

Isn’t that plant shelf amazing? I decided to set myself the goal of making one too, to house the smaller Tropical blooms that I have amassed.

Here are the DIY instructions:tropical-plant-holder-DIYWhat you need:

1.Depending on how much tropical madness you want around you, at least 2 Medinilla, 2 Gloriosa and 2 kangaroo paws

2 planks of wood, 180 cm high and 35 cm wide

3 watertight window boxes (so without a drainage hole, or seal the hole)

4.Sticky back plastic with your choice of extravagant print

6.Jigsaw, knife

7.Paint and brushes

8.Small bag of potting compost

How to make it:plant diyStep 1

Measure the boxes and planks carefully and mark out the holes so that they will be at the same height in due course. Cut three holes in each plank in the shape and size of the window boxes.

Step 2

Stick the adhesive plastic on the window boxes. Start with the sides, finish with the bottom (no-one will see that part, so it doesn’t matter if there is a slight overlap there).

Step 3

Slide the boxes through the holes. If the rack wobbles too much, nail a crossbar on the back to provide greater stability. Place potting soil in the boxes, distribute the tropical beauties across the boxes.

I must admit the cutting holes bit was a little tricky. I had to enlist the help of my husband for that. Painting required at least 3 coats too.

So, below is the reveal of my humble reproduction.Houseplant-of-the-month-May-Tropical-plants-created-and-photograph-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-BellWhat do you think?

I have customised it slightly. I used gold wrap that didn’t stick right onto the window boxes.

I wanted to create a 3 dimensional effect to the surface that reflected light at different angles, giving the boxes a sculptural texture.


I also wanted to create a ‘frame’ effect for my display.

I decided to do that by using a bright accent strip of colour down the edge of each plank.

Naturally, I chose bright pink. Rather than painting the edges and potentially making a mess, I decided on a quick and easy option of using my roll of bright pink Washi tape.

Tropical-plant-stand-DIY-photo-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-BellHere you can see the close up sculptural effect of the gold wrap.
Tropical-MedinillaHere is a shot with my hanging Medinilla plant on top.Houseplant-of-the-month-May-Tropical-plants-created-and-photograph-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-BellI hope you have enjoyed my collection of Blooming Tropical plants and are now fully acquainted with the three starring houseplants of the month : Gloriosa, Kangaroo Paw and Medinilla.

Wishing you all a wonderful day.

( All photography and styling are by Geraldine Tan, Editor of Little Big Bell, with the exception of the window box DIY instruction photos by The Joy of Plants. This is a collaborative post with The Joy of Plants.)


  1. Jessica Lozano

    I really love the idea and so on trend with all the ‘tropical’ prints and fabrics around at the moment. A great addition for the home! Thank you for the ideas.

  2. What a gorgeous selection of tropical plants! Well done on your shelf customization too, it looks perfect for displaying them in style.

  3. oh you did a GREAT job x

  4. Lara Moore

    Your shelf is awesome! I must give it a go… The pink really looks great against the beautiful flowers too. Thanks for the tips, Geraldine 🙂

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