Indoor Fruit Plants

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2008

Many people have a misconception that fruit is difficult to grow indoors, but it's not. Fruit can be maintained in a pot and does quite well inside as long as you have a sunny window.

Calamondin Orange (Citrofutnella mitis variegate)
The calamondin orange, a cross between a kumquat and an orange, is a favorite among gardeners for its variegated foliage and its small ornamental fruit. The flowers are extremely fragrant and the fruit, which is very sour, is used to make marmalade. Once established in a pot, the calamondin orange is very easy to grow. Keep it in full sun and fertilize it twice a month in the active growing season. It will flower in late winter or early spring and fruit thereafter. The fruit will hold on for an awesome ornamental display for months.

Citrus "Sunquat"
The sunquat, one of the most prolific and free-fruiting citruses, is a cross between a sweet Meiwa Kumquat and a lemon. Unlike other citruses, there is no uniformity to the size of the fruit, which is determined more by the size of the plant and the amount of fruit on the tree. To create a full specimen of the sunquat, which, like a giant kumquat, is eaten skin and all, prune it at an early age to encourage branching, which, in turn, produces stronger limbs for the fruit to hold to.

Cinnamon (Cinnamonum Zelanicum)
Many people don't realize that cinnamon is harvested from bark by simply scraping it. In the summer, spires of white flowers form on the plant. The leaves have a scent but the richest cinnamon scent is in the bark. Cinnamon, which is a slow grower, is easy to grow and doesn't need an acidic potting soil. To make perpetual cinnamon, place three or four cinnamon sticks in a glass bottle and cover it with vodka. After four weeks, the cinnamon flavor will be extracted out of the cinnamon. Use the cinnamon extract just like you would cinnamon powder. Each time you use the extract, simply refill with vodka. Perpetual cinnamon lasts for three or more years.

Papaya (Carica papaya)
Papaya will keep growing, but to maintain it as a manageable container plant, you can prune back the big stems. Fruit will form on a 12- to 24-inch-tall plant. A papaya plant will begin fruiting within 6 months; it takes seven to eight months to ripen once the fruit appears. Papaya requires full sun, warm temperatures (65-plus), moderate fertilizer, and regular watering.

Coffee (Coffea Arabica)
The coffee berries are ripe and ready to be harvested once they have turned red. Once harvested, the berries must be split open; they contain two beans that bust be dried, roasted, and ground. There are enough beans on a tree to make a whole pot of coffee. A coffee tree, which has extremely fragrant flowers, will produce beans year-round and usually flower twice a year -- in the spring and fall. The plant needs full sun, must be kept above 60 degrees, and must be watered and fertilized every other week during the active growing period.

Resources
Special thanks to Byron Martin, the owner of Logee's Greenhouses, a 113-year-old horticultural establishment, for giving Logee's catalogs to our studio audience.

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