Understanding Plant Climates

Tropical plants are classified into 4 climate groups; Warm (W), Intermediate (I), Cool (C) and Xeric (X). Understanding which group your plant fits into is key to providing the appropriate care.

Warm: The plants that occur at sea level up to 800 m. elevation. Generally tolerate heat, even over 31C, however, the lowest temperature should not reach below 15C. Cooler weather obstructs their growth and may result in visible damage on the leaves. Humidity should not drop below 60% with good air movement.

Intermediate: The plants that are known to grow from 900-1,900 m. elevation. They prefer moderate temperatures between 15-24C and relatively high humidity (70-90%). Some intermediate plants (usually marked as W-I) may adapt to warmer conditions but most are sensitive to heat, reflexing in low growing, smaller, blackened or melting leaves.

Cool: Cloud forest plants from over 2,000 m. elevation. The best temperature range is 5-15C and they need constantly high humidity at 80-90% and low light exposure. Some Cool plants (usually marked as I-C) also acclimate to intermediate conditions, but overall they will die back in a short time after exposure to heat and lower humidity.

Xeric: Plants endemic to drought environments like deserts or sub-Alpine. Despite day-heat tolerance, even under direct sun, they need cool nights (10-18C). They are also sensitive to overwatering.