Indoor Fruit Tree Tips
If you live in the South or a sunny warm climate you may be lucky enough to be able to grow some of your own citrus like lemons and oranges. The rest of us up north, well sadly we don't have the option of growing citrus trees outdoors. Thanks to dwarf variety fruit trees we can grow our own fruit trees in containers and have access for fresh homegrown fruit all year long.
There are dozens of varieties of citrus plants you can grow indoors. Although the most popular may be the Meyer Lemon, you can grow everything from tangerines and grapefruits to kumquats and everything in between! Interested in bringing some cheerful and sunny fruit trees indoors? Read on to learn about fruit trees in the home and how to keep them happy and producing sweet juicy fruit.
Popular indoor fruit varieties to grow:
Choosing your indoor fruit tree plant
You may be able to find citrus plants at your local garden center. If you don't see what you are looking for they may be able to order one in for you. You can also purchase them online from several online retailers. I bought my Meyer Lemon at the Home Depot. Choose trees that are at least 2-3 years old if you want a tree that will product fruit right away.When choosing your plant look for a healthy looking tree with and sturdy trunk no signs of disease.
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How much sunlight do indoor fruit trees need?
Fruit trees need about 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. Place your tree near a sunny window with south or west exposure. If you get less than 6 hours of sunlight per day your may need to supplement with a grow light. If your tree does not get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day it will not produce fruit.
Watering your indoor fruit tree
Many citrus plants are drought resistant. You want to water them approximately every 7- 10 days and be careful to avoid over watering. These plants like a lot of moisture so if you live in a dry climate make sure you give them a good misting with a spray bottle on a regular basis.
In order for your tree to produce fruit the citrus flowers need to pollinate. Normally this is a job for bees but since there aren't likely to be many bees inside your house you will have to take on their job. Take a very soft paintbrush or makeup brush and lightly swirl around the pollen in each flower. If your flowers don't get pollinated your tree may still grow pretty flowers but they won't produce any fruit.
Gnome Tip: For best results purchase two or three different varieties of fruit trees and use a paintbrush to pollinate between them.
Fertilizer for indoor fruit trees
You can fertilize your citrus trees about once a month. Citrus trees require a steady supply of nitrogen so choose a fertilizer with nitrogen as well as iron, zinc and manganese. Compost tea made from worm castings is also great for indoor plants.
When Should You Repot Your Fruit Tree?
You can re-pot your fruit tree every couple of years. Re-potting causes stress to your plants so it's important not to do it until it is absolutely time. How do you know it's time? Here are some sure signs your fruit tree needs to be re-potted:
- You can see the roots growing through the bottom holes of the planter
- The plant droops no matter how much you water it
- You find matted roots near the soil surface
- You take the plant out of the pot and see more roots than soil
Re-potting should be done in the spring or fall and you should only move it to a planter that is one or two sizes larger than it's current pot.
Other tips and tricks for indoor fruit trees
- When transplanting your tree to a larger container use potting soil with perlite mixed in. Don't use soil from your garden as it may contain diseases.
- The best way to avoid pests is to spray your tree with horticulture oil. Misting with water will also help prevent spider mites.
- If you live in a climate with hot summers and cold winters you can bring your tree outdoors when the weather is nice. Park your plant in the shade for a few days at the beginning and end of the season to help acclimatize it
- Citrus will not ripen off the plant so make sure not to get too eager and pick your fruit too early
What if you don't If I have enough natural sunlight in your home?
Living here in the Pacific Northwest I know that having a steady stream of natural sunlight pouring through your window isn't always an option. If this is your current situation you may want to consider getting a grow light. You can get an inexpensive grow light on Amazon or other online retailers. Place your fruit tree under the lamp for at least 8 hours a day in order to grow luscious, tasty fruit.
A collection of indoor citrus trees will not only give you access to tasty homegrown citrus all year long but the flowers will make your home smell heavenly and trees themselves make for interesting home decor and conversation starters. Whether you live in a tiny city apartment of sprawling rural farmland you can conjure the feeling of summer all year long with sweet citrus trees.