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9 Types of Indoor Fruit Trees You Can Grow in Your Living Room

Organic Lemon Shidonna Raven

Like houseplants, but better. by: AMANDA SIMS
May 14, 2020
Source: Food 52

There are decorative house plants and then there are edible plants that you tend to in a tiny kitchen garden. But what about in between?

If you’re looking for an indoor plant that’s both decorative and edible, look to the world of fruit trees! While many grow to be enormous in the wild and are native to perpetually sunny conditions, there are a number of dwarf plants that will do just fine—and even fruit—in a big pot in your living room. We asked for a vote of confidence from Bloomscape‘s Plant Mom, Joyce Mast, who is equipped with 40 years of plant knowledge—and a healthy dose of intuition. “It is very possible to grow fruit trees indoors! But it is best to purchase the dwarf varieties (for size) and the most mature trees (faster fruiting times) available,” she says.

Most fruit trees, she adds, need bright, full sun for approximately 6-8 hours a day all year long to present with fruit. “If you do not have an area in your home where you can give it enough light, consider using a grow light or placing your fruit tree outdoors during the summer months,” she says. Also important to remember: use a pot with drainage holes so there is no water build-up in the bottom of the pot, which will cause root rot.

Proper care and conditions (and a reliable nursery for sourcing them!) are extra important if you want an indoor fruit tree to prosper, but we have confidence in your drive. Here’s a primer on fruit trees that you can grow indoors, and how much light and water each needs to thrive.

1. Figs

Fruit?

If you want a fig tree that fruits, steer clear of the decorative fiddleleaf—which won’t even consider it. Instead choose a small cultivar like Brown Turkey (also known as Negro Largo or Aubique Noire), a Plant Mom personal favorite which tolerates heavy pruning, is self-pollinating, and can thrive indoors. They’ll sprout pretty oblong leaves.

Planting & Care

The size of the pot you choose will factor into how large and productive your tree becomes (opt for a larger planter for more fruit, smaller if you need the fig tree to stay small). “This tree also prefers a loamy soil-mix of clay and sand,” says Mast. Water it about once a week, until it comes out of the drainage holes, and prune when its as many feet tall as you want. Mast also recommends misting regularly, since figs prefer a humid place to grow.

Habitat

While inedible fig trees do fine in indirect sunlight, edible cultivars will need to be positioned in bright light—right in line with a northern exposure would be ideal. They don’t like the cold at all, so keep them well away from drafty doors and windows.

2. Lemons & 3. Limes & 4. Oranges

Fruit?

If you want to grow citrus inside, opt for a dwarf cultivar that self-pollinates—like Meyer Lemon (which is self-pollinating and doesn’t require as much heat to ripen the fruit) or Lime; they’ll yield the quickest crop and the plant will stay a manageable size. “Kaffir or Key Lime (hello, pie) are also both good dwarf varieties of lime trees,” says Mast. For oranges, keep an eye out for Calamondin trees—the fruit is very sour (more like a lemon or lime)—which are the best for indoor growing conditions. Mast uses these oranges often in cooking. Plus, they’re a gorgeous decoration, and emanate a delicious aroma.

Planting & Care

The best soil for growing healthy citrus trees is slightly acidic and loam-based (meaning 2:2:1 sand to silt to clay). They also like lots of moisture in the air—up to 50 percent humidity, ideally!—but you can simulate that environment by spritzing them regularly with water from a spray bottle, or by placing them near a humidifier. It’s also best to keep the soil ever so slightly moist, and not let it dry out completely. (When watering, note that citrus trees prefer a lukewarm tepid temperature to freezing cold.)

Habitat

No surprise here: Citrus plants need a whole lot of sunlight—8 to 12 hours of it every day. Place your tree in the sunniest window spot you have—better yet if it’s a room with double exposure (southern and eastern, say). And if you have any outdoor space, they’d appreciate a few months in the fresh air if you have a balmy summer.

5. Olives

Fruit?

Self-pollinating and prolific (a single tree can produce as many as 20 pounds of fruit a year), olive trees do not require much care compared to other fruit trees. When shopping for an indoor olive tree, keep in mind that many cultivars are purely ornamental, meaning they won’t fruit, but there are great indoor varieties that will: Consider an Arbequina—which is slow-growing and will drip water through the leaves (called “weeping”)—or a Picholine, which is more upright.

Planting & Care

Indoor olive trees need only be watered when the top inch of soil has dried out, and less in fall and winter when they take a natural rest.

Habitat

An olive tree needs at least six hours of solid sunlight each day. Place it near a sunny, south-facing window (but not too close or the leaves will frizzle).

6. Avocados

Fruit?

To be clear, it’s very very tough to get an indoor avocado tree to fruit but it isn’t impossible. Instead of growing one from a seed (that is, the pit—see above left), seek out a grafted starter plant that has some tissue from a tree that does produce good-tasting fruit. Naturally small trees—like WurtzGwen, and Whitsell—are your best bet, and they don’t have to be cross-pollinated to fruit.

Planting & Care

Add some sand to the bottom of a pot and fill in with regular potting mix so your tree doesn’t get wet feet, and water it regularly without letting the soil get sopping wet. Ripe fruit can be left hanging on the tree for a few weeks.

Habitat

Warm-season plants, avocados like lots of bright light. Right in line with a south-facing window is your best shot at finding it a happy place!

7. Bananas

Fruit?

Some banana trees produce edible fruit while others produce fruit you can’t eat—and again you’ll want to get a dwarf plant—such as Super Dwarf Cavendish or Dwarf Red—so that it doesn’t grow too huge. They’re self-fruitful, meaning they don’t require a pollinator.

Planting & Care

Your banana tree’s soil should be light and peat-y; fertilize it monthly to keep it growing strong. They like lots of water due to their enormous leaves, but you’ll want to let the soil dry out fully between waterings. The leaves can be misted to simulate a humid climate.

Habitat

Lots of bright indirect sunlight is best, so set it up near a southern-facing exposure if possible. Rotate the plant periodically so that all sides get light.

8. Apricots

SaveApricot: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Apricots IndoorsHomydenApricot: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Apricots Indoors

Fruit?

Yet again, you’ll want to opt for a dwarf apricot tree (between two and five feet tall at the most if you live in an apartment!) if you’re growing it indoors. “Moorpark and Goldcot are my recommended dwarf varieties of apricot trees,” says Mast. They can also be kept small with regular pruning. If you buy a young tree (as opposed to growing a tree form a pit) and with proper care, you could be eating apricots as soon as the first year.

Planting & Care

“Both Moorpark and Goldcot prefer a snug pot with a loamy soil-mix of clay and sand,” says Mast. Also recommended is mixing some compost or manure into the soil as this will add lots of nutrients that promote healthy growth. Water regularly so the soil does not dry out.

Habitat

If you can give your apricot tree about six to eight hours of light daily, even indirect, it should stay happy. Consider a well-lit south-facing window area—and consider buying growth lights if you think it could use the extra bit of boost.

9. Mulberries

Fruit?

Yes, you guessed it: a dwarf mulberry tree is best if you’re growing it indoors. Opt for one like the Dwarf Everbearing. The fruit of a mulberry tree, which will look something like a blackberry but smaller, should be picked as soon as it’s ripe—and the tree’s fruit supply will ripen over time rather than all at once.

Planting & Care

Regular potting soil works fine, as will regular watering! Mulberry trees are slow-growing and like roomy pots.

Habitat

A warm, bright, sunny space is best for your mulberry tree; move it to a spot with full exposure from spring through fall, if possible.

Which fruit will you grow inside? When will you get started? Why?

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