Indoor fruit trees give you fresh, healthy fruit inside your own home – apartment dwellers can finally rejoice in home-grown produce! Growing fruit indoors is not a new concept. From as early as the 17th century, fashionable and wealthy houses in Europe had an orangery, where orange and other fruit trees were protected during the winter.
If you’ve discovered the joy of growing dwarf indoor fruit trees, you’re likely very pleased with their low maintenance. Just about anyone can grow a dwarf citrus tree in just about any living space. Their fragrant blossoms and sweet delicious fruit make them a welcome addition to any home. Citrus trees (particularly the sour varieties like lemons and limes) are among the best indoor fruit trees in terms of being easy to grow and resistant to disease and pests.
A Dwarf fruit tree results from grafting a fruiting tree onto dwarf root stock – the roots of another tree. The height of the mature dwarf fruit tree would be 3 – 8 ft if outdoors, but when planted in a container the growth of these trees is confined and suitable for indoors. There are now exciting dwarf varieties of other fruits becoming available to the adventurous gardener, such as olive, banana or pomegranate.
Most dwarf varieties make a suitable indoor fruit tree and require similar care to the indoor citrus tree, so start with the easy Dwarf Meyer lemon and progress to your very own indoor fruit garden.
Indoor Fruit Tree Care: Here are 5 tips for making sure your tree is healthy, vibrant and productive
1. If you need to add soil to your tree container, never use soil from the yard or anywhere outside.
Get a soil mixture with perlite mixed in. You can buy this mix online or at most garden centers. The soil mixture should be an airy potting soil, and you should add soil up to the line on the trunk where discoloration from the dirt used by the nursery ends. Leave enough space at the top of the pot to water thoroughly.
2. Growing fruit indoors requires regular watering.
For the most part, every week to 10 days is plenty. When the soil is no longer damp, go ahead and water. Be thorough but don’t drench the soil. If you notice the leaves of your tree curling under it may be due to lack of water.
3. Not only do indoor fruit plants like water, they like to be fed as well.
Once a month, fertilize them with a specially formulated fertilizer made for indoor citrus varieties. If you don’t want to buy a specialized fertilizer, no worries. The key ingredients are zine, iron, and manganese. Most good quality multipurpose fertilizers contain these ingredients. Lack of nutrients is one of the causes for yellowing leaves,
4. Most humans hate humidity but as you might imagine dwarf indoor fruit trees, especially citrus, love it.
If your living space is dry, particularly in the colder months, add moisture with a humidifier, or mist them frequently. Another good idea is to place your tree container in a tray filled with pebbles and water added to the top of the pebbles. A humidifier can lead to problems in the home such as mold, so a water filled tray works best for us.
5. When it gets warm outside, give your tree some TLC and let it live outside on a patio or balcony.
As for light exposure, a western or southern exposure is best. The outdoor sun will do your tree good, but acclimate it to full sunlight gradually. We usually place our three trees in a shady area for a few days first. The sun gives the tree the strength to bloom and make fruit, so aim for at least 8 hours a day. Note of caution: Don’t put your tree directly in front of a drafty vent – yellowing leaves can indicate the tree is stressed and cold air is one of the reasons.
Other Tips for Growing Fruit Indoors
After you’ve owned your indoor fruit tree for a while, you’ll notice it will produce quite a number of blossoms. Not all of these blossoms will produce fruit, but you can help encourage fruit production. Take a soft small paintbrush and brush the stamens of open blossoms from blossom to blossom. Basically, you’re helping the pollination process. Even if your dwarf indoor fruit tree is self pollinating this process is worthwhile.
Misting provides humidity for your tree, which they enjoy. Just use a regular spray bottle with the nozzle setting on mist or fine (the mist should be gentle). Use tepid water, meaning not hot or not cold. In fact, regular misting will deter pests and misting your tree every other day or so is something we wholeheartedly recommend.
Lastly, for pests, spray your tree with horticultural oil. In the rare instances your indoor fruit tree experiences pest problems (usually spider mites), a spray of horticultural oil every other day will definitely rectify the issue. Horticultural oil will smother the pests and should rid your tree of the problem.
Growing fruit indoors is fun for both adults and children. Indoor fruit trees bring the fresh garden into your home so don’t be afraid to have a go – the rewards are bountiful!