Growing fruit indoors can seem daunting, but with the right information it can be an extremely rewarding experience. There are many benefits to growing fruit inside, including getting fresh produce year-round, having more control over growing conditions, and not having to worry as much about pests, disease, or extreme weather damaging your crop. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know to get started and be successful at growing fruit indoors.
What Kinds of Fruit Can Be Grown Indoors?
Many types of fruit can be grown indoors if you have the right conditions. Some top choices include:
- Citrus fruits – Citrus trees like lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange. They need lots of light and warm temperatures. Dwarf varieties work best indoors.
- Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries grow well in containers. Choose compact varieties.
- Melons – Cantaloupe and honeydew melon vines can be trained up a trellis indoors. Miniature varieties are best.
- Apples, pears, and stone fruits – With enough light and space, dwarf apple, pear, peach, plum, and cherry trees can thrive.
- Bananas – Banana plants love warm, humid conditions indoors. Make sure they get very bright light.
- Pineapples – Given the right care, you can grow pineapple plants and enjoy homegrown pineapple.
- Figs – Both regular and dwarf fig trees produce flavorful fruits indoors.
- Kiwis – Hardy kiwi vines can be grown in containers and produce sweet fruits. Provide trellising.
- Passionfruit – With lots of light and heat, passionfruit vines produce unique fruits.
- Guava – Tropical guava trees grow well indoors and produce flavorful fruits.
- Papaya – The fast-growing papaya is another tropical fruit that can thrive indoors.
- Mangoes – Dwarf mango varieties can grow in containers indoors and produce juicy fruits.
- Pomegranates – Miniature pomegranate shrubs produce vibrant red fruits indoors.
What Growing Conditions Do Fruit Plants Need?
Creating the right growing conditions is key to successfully producing fruit indoors. Here are the key factors to focus on:
- Lighting – Most fruiting plants need at least 6 hours of direct sun daily or 12-16 hours under grow lights. South-facing windows are ideal.
- Temperature – Daytime temps of 65-75°F and nighttime temps around 55-65°F are suitable for most fruit plants. Citrus prefer slightly warmer temps.
- Soil – Use a well-draining potting mix made for containers and fruits. Adjust pH to 6.0-6.5.
- Fertilizer – Use a balanced fruit fertilizer according to label directions. Feed more often when plants are fruiting.
- Water – Maintain moist but not soaked soil. Let the top inch dry between waterings. Increase water during fruiting.
- Humidity – Most fruit plants prefer 40-60% humidity. Use a humidifier or pebble tray to increase moisture.
- Air circulation – Good airflow prevents disease. Use fans and prune plants to improve air movement.
- Pollination – Assist pollination by hand using a small brush or cotton swab for the best fruit set.
- Pruning and training – Prune and train plants while young to control size and shape. Pinch off unwanted buds and shoots.
- Root space – Repot in larger containers as plants grow. Restricted roots limit fruiting.
- Support – Stake, trellis or cage plants to prevent toppling from heavy fruits.
Choosing the Right Fruit Varieties
Selecting compact fruit tree varieties bred specifically for containers is one of the most important factors for success. Look for the following when buying plants:
- Dwarf, mini, or patio fruit trees – These are grafted varieties that stay under 8-10 feet tall. Great for indoors.
- Compact or columnar varieties – Naturally small, upright varieties perfect for tight spaces.
- Self-pollinating fruit trees – Varieties that do not require a pollinator, ideal for indoor growing.
- Thornless blackberry or raspberry plants – Less hazardous for indoor growing. Produce less but still tasty berries.
- Day-neutral strawberries – Keep producing flowers/fruits all season instead of just in spring/summer.
- Seedless varieties – Seedless grapes, oranges, lemons, etc. are easier to grow indoors and less messy.
- Disease-resistant cultivars – Choose varieties bred to resist common diseases like powdery mildew.
- Chill hour requirements – Select types needing less winter chill hours to fruit well indoors.
Providing the Right Potting Mixes and Fertilizer
The foundation for healthy container fruits starts with the soil. Use high quality potting mixes and fertilizers to get nutrient levels right.
- Use light, porous container mixes – Avoid heavy garden soils, which can easily become waterlogged.
- Mix in perlite or vermiculite – Improves drainage and aeration for healthy roots.
- Add organic compost – Boosts nutrients and microbial activity. Compost tea is also beneficial.
- Test and amend pH – Most fruits grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5.
- Apply slow-release fertilizer at planting – Look for options formulated for fruiting plants, trees, and citrus.
- Use balanced liquid fertilizer monthly – Alternate fertilizing with compost or manure tea.
- Avoid over-fertilizing – Excess salts can build up and damage roots. Flush soil regularly.
- Re-pot in fresh soil each year – Prevents salt buildup and replenishes nutrients.
- Apply chelated iron if needed – Prevents chlorosis in alkaline water.
- Mulch surface – Helps retain moisture and reduce soil pests.
Caring for Fruit Plants Throughout the Seasons
Proper care while fruits are growing, developing, and ripening is crucial:
- Provide maximum light exposure.
- Keep plants warm – heat mats can be used.
- Water when the top inch of soil is dry. Check soil moisture often.
- Prune off excessive growth and inward-facing branches.
- Stake/trellis plants as needed for support.
- Control aphids, mites, and other sap-sucking insects.
- Assist with pollination using a brush or cotton swab.
- Increase humidity around plants. Mist leaves regularly.
- Ensure adequate water and nutrients are fertilized more often.
- Protect heavy fruits with slings/hammocks to prevent limb breakage.
- Remove excessive developing fruits to improve the size of remaining fruits.
- Reduce high nitrogen fertilizer to improve flavor.
- Increase sunlight exposure to sweeten fruits.
- Control pests aggressively – they love ripe fruits!
- Harvest fruits at their peak ripeness. Enjoy immediately!
- Check ripening fruits daily and harvest as soon as ready.
Troubleshooting Common Indoor Fruit Growing Problems
Even with good care, issues can pop up. Here are some common challenges and solutions:
Poor fruit set – Lack of pollination. Assist pollination by hand. Also check lighting and temperatures.
Small fruits – Insufficient light or fertilizer. Increase sunlight or use grow lights. Fertilize more.
Leaf yellowing – Nitrogen deficiency. Fertilize more with nitrogen-rich mix.
Dropping leaves/flowers – Under or over-watering. Check soil moisture and adjust watering.
Stunted growth – Rootbound or poor drainage. Repot in larger container with fresh soil.
Wilting – Root rot from overwatering. Allow soil to fully dry out before watering again.
Spindly growth – Needs more light. Provide ample sunlight or use grow lights.
Leaf spots/blight – Fungal disease. Improve air circulation. Remove affected leaves promptly.
Webbing/sticky leaves – Spider mites. Isolate plant and spray leaves thoroughly with insecticidal soap.
Pests – Aphids, mites, scale. Isolate and treat infected plants. Release ladybugs or lacewings.
Mold/mildew – High humidity and poor air flow. Improve air circulation with fans. Remove affected parts promptly.
Blossom end rot – Calcium deficiency. Supplement with cal-mag fertilizer. Keep soil moisture steady.
Misshapen fruits – Improper pollination or humidity extremes. Assist pollination and maintain ideal humidity.
Splitting fruits – Uneven soil moisture. Maintain steady watering and mulch plants.
Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor
One of the biggest advantages of growing fruit indoors is having freshly picked produce no matter what the weather’s like outside. Here are some final tips for harvesting and enjoying homegrown fruits:
- Pick fruits when ripe – this is when flavor and nutrition peaks.
- Handle carefully to avoid bruising delicate fruits.
- Enjoy right away, store in fridge, freeze, or can into jams, sauces, etc.
- Check often as many indoor fruits ripen quickly and need prompt harvesting.
- Stagger plantings to extend the fruiting season.
- Gift extra fruits to family and friends – homegrown produce makes great gifts!
- Blend or cook overly ripe fruits into smoothies, baked goods, compotes, etc.
- Consider joining a local fruit exchange group to get a variety.
- Experiment with different fruits each year – this keeps the experience exciting!
- Keep a journal noting fruiting times, yields, flavors, etc to optimize future harvests.
- Save seeds from the best fruits to plant for the next season.
We hope this expanded guide gives you all the tips and knowledge you need to succeed at growing delicious, healthy fruits indoors! Let us know if you have any other indoor fruit growing questions.