Believe it or not, you CAN grow fruiting trees indoors. They won’t necessarily fruit but you can still enjoy their beautiful foliage!
Fruit Tree 1 – Figs (Ficus carica)
Some varieties of the common fig can be grown indoors. ‘Black Genoa’ or ‘Brown Turkey’ are varieties especially suited to containers.
Keep your fig in a well lit room.
They have a magnificent shaped leaf and the branches can be pruned in whatever shape you like – or let them get long and spindly, what ever suits your taste.
Your fig may sucker (grow a new plant from the root). If it does, remove suckers throughout the growing season and pass them on to a fig friend to propagate, or just let them grow.
Ideally use a good quality potting mix with added aged cow manure. The mix needs to be able to hold water but have good drainage. Manures high in nitrogen like poultry manure will make them grow faster with more leaves if you can bear the smell!
Keep the tub mulched to help retain water and to keep the roots cooler in the summer.
Photo by Another Ballroom (via Riazzoli)
Fruit Tree 2 – Olives (Olea sp.)
Olives can also be grown indoors in a sunny place. The soft grey-green colour of leaves look fantastic with all the earthy shades that are fashionable right now.
Make sure you select a small cultivar for your pot – consider Olea arbequina. Make sure they have plenty of drainage and use a loam-based compost mix for the pot.
Olives need regular watering (so don’t let them dry out) and feeding in the warmer months and in winter only water when the top inch of soil is dry.
Don’t fret if the tree should drop its older leaves in Spring – this is normal.
Scale insect is sometimes a problem, so keep an eye out for shell-like bumps on stems and the underside of leaves and treat with a non-toxic horticultural oil.
Photo by AlissaSueK
Fruit Tree 3 – Avocados (Persea americana)
The humble Avocado is a ripper to get the kids interested in plants. It’s super easy too.
After demolishing the delicious fruit ( hopefully with some toasted sourdough and a smear of goat’s cheese) remove the pip.
Give it a gentle wash leaving the brown shell on and then fatter end down, insert 3 tooth-picks into the top third of the seed so it can sit with it’s bottom in a glass of water.
Use a glass so you can watch the progress & make sure to change the water weekly to avoid bacteria & mould.
Be patient, it can take from a couple of weeks to a couple of months for the seed to start growing a tap root followed by a shoot from the top of the seed.
Once it is about 15cm high, gently pot the seed with some rich humus potting mix in a 25cm diameter wide pot in a sunny position.
Photo: Karen Yates
Fruit Tree 4 – Lemons (Citrus limon)
Try a dwarf variety – a plant that is grafted onto special rootstock that prevents the tree from growing too large. Citrus meyer ‘Dwarf Lemonicious’ is a beauty.
Again, grow it in the warmest and brightest possible place and it may even reward you with fruit as they are self-polinating.
If you are really keen you can give them a hand by gently using a small paint brush or bird feather. Simply touching each flower with the tip of the paint brush to gather the pollen, then brush each stigma (the sticky centre part of flower) the with it in turn.
Lemons need regular watering and feed your tree every three weeks with a high-nitrogen fertilizer made for citrus. Feed half as often in Autumn and winter.
Citrus are vulnerable to scale, spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Be on the lookout for curled, speckled, or yellowing leaves, sticky residue and silky webs between the branches.
Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, to combat pests as needed.
photo by Joannawnuk
Fruit Tree 5 – Mulberries (Morus nigra)
Yep – last but not least, the tree known for its sweeping heights and boughs grand enough to support folk picking its delicious berries, can be grown inside.
Select a dwarf variety – Red Shahtoot is a good one – and pot in a container with good drainage a third of the tree’s height.
Use excellent compost and potting mix and a slow release fertilizer every 6 months. Mulberries prefer warmth and lots of indirect light.
Your mulberry tree will need re-potting every two years to replenish nutrients in the potting mix.
Pruning the tree each year will help control its growth and pruning the roots when re-potting will assist with both size control and the health of the tree.
Mildew, leaf spot, and root rot can be a problem. By ensuring proper drainage and avoiding over watering, you can prevent these problems.
Top Indoor Fruit Tree Growing Tips:
Growing fruiting trees inside can be a rewarding pastime. They will not grow as fast as they do outdoors so be patient.
To get the most of your indoor fruit trees
- Always use good quality potting mix. If you are not sure, ask your nursery staff
- Make sure you allow for adequate drainage
- Feed & water often
- Re-pot every couple of years to refresh potting mix
- Keep your indoor fruit tree in as much light as possible.