How to Grow Edible Houseplants
When I read
suziegruber’s post, Adapting in
Place. It made me really think about
what I have and can do well. One of
those things would be growing houseplants.
I do have success growing herbs, but haven’t tried many other indoor
edible plants. I have listed below links
that are helpful in this area.
Herbs as Houseplants http://houseplants.suite101.com/article.cfm/herbs_as_houseplants
oregano, lavender, chives, parsley, chamomile, mints, basil
sunflower, cress, lentil and buckwheat
peas, cabbage, arugula, radishes, beets, clover, mustard and alfalfa.
How to Grow Edible Houseplants
nectarines, apricots, mulberry, Cape gooseberries, dwarf pomegranate,
pineapple guava, tomatoes, herbs, dwarf citrus fruits.
cat233, thanks for the links! I am thinking indoor planting may be what I want to explore next preparation-wise.
I’m not familiar with edible herbs… int pots. But I have quite some experance growing bonsai.
First of all, in the wild, no plants are growing ‘indoors’. And they do not grow in pots.
So growing plants inside is unatural, artificial. Well if you have no other choice, that’ OK. But, you’ll always get better results growing plants outdoor, adapted to your climate, sun exposure, rain/your ability to water regulary…
IMO forget about growing fruit trees indoor, unless you have a greenhouse or verandah. Most need full sun. Most are hardy plants and absolutly need a dormance (sleep) period in the winter due to cold. This is a requirement for hardy plants. (see Wintering below) So I would reccomend to stay aways from growing hardy trees indoor.
Growing in pots
Watering: this is essential to water when needed, but not ‘blindly’ at regular intervals. Best practice for watering is to feel the soil, touch it is best. Water when to top of the soil is dry (not bone dry), but there is still moisture below (dig your finger in the soil). When watering, the whole soil should be well moisted, but not wet. So water gently and continue until the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. If the soil is too dry, it’s better to water twice at about 10 to 20 min interval. If it’s bone dry, shame on you, but you may save it. Usually the soil will then retract and watering from the top will let the water go sideways without moisting the inside. In that case only, you may put the pot in a bucket of water until the top of the soil is moisted (approx 15 min). Then move it out and let the soil drain.
Water: The best is rain water. Tap water may be too hard (check with pH test or ask local authorities). If you have hard water, then it will accumulate watering after watering. This might kill acid-loving plants like Azalea. Some will do OK. Some will even like it, like boxwood (Buxus).
Soil: Good drainage is essential. Never leave the bottom of the pot in a dish constantly watered. This is the surest way to kill the plant by root rot. The bottom of the pot should have a layer of gravels, about 1/4 to 1/2 " in size. Otherwize you might got root rot (after watering, due to capillarity, there always remains a layer of water at the bottom which does not drain). Compost is fine for annuals (lasting 1 year) but terrible for perenials because it collapse too fast. The best soil for trees, consist only of small gravels (1/8 to 1/4 ") without any compost. All serious bonsai nursery & artist will confirm this. Akadama is best, but that know only in the bonsai sphere and exensive. Turface is OK, as is Perlite, crushed granite… (No limestone, unless it’s the natural soil for the plant which is very unusual).
Wintering: For perrenials, trees, evergreens, in the US, choose plants hardy for your USDA zone. You may also grow in pots plants not too hardy, or even tropicals by either protecting them in a cold frame or moving them in a greenhouse. Ex: Pomegranate (Punicas granatum), Lime/Orange… (Citrus Sp). should go outside in the summer but protected from frost.
Light / Sun: Indoor is VERY dark. Do not beleive your eyes, they adapt to the ambiant light. But the plant does not to abiant light. If you have no option but indoor, put it near a large window. NOT 3 feet from it, the plant gets almost half the light it gets next the window.
Repoting … Feeding …
Let me know if you want more details (also for bonsai)
The wife and I just went to the STL Botanical Gardens, and they have a Geodesic dome there that is absolutely amazing.
In addition to actually growing tropical plants (it’s a relatively complete biosphere – man made of course) they have descriptions of all of the ones that are known to have medicinal properties. A lot of the ones you mentioned were there,
With a greenhouse, you could do some amazing things, and I’m looking forward to seeing more on this, as it represents the most logical option for most people.
amory lovins grows tropical fruit ……….bananas etc in his house in aspen.
i think he is up to 29 years of harvesting
Yes, yes, yum.
So far (in MN) I’ve grown cherry tomatoes which riped year round if they get enough sun, lettuces,herbs, strawberries (get alpine ever-bearing for continual winter fruit), I started some citrus from the seeds of some fruit I ate a few years ago (it takes a long time to get the seeds to germinate), and from:mybackachers.com/mushrooms.htm – mushrooms! They have a list of small container growing methods (hydro & aero ponics). I keep my mushroom log in our shower on a shelf opposite the shower head. It took 6 months to get it to start flushing.
Oh and I found some coffee beans for sprouting on eBay too. Out of 25 seeds- only 1 has made it to 8" in a year. Some of these take some skill and patience.
Years ago I read about a guy who fed his family all winter string beans from a 3’x3′ pot- which fruit continually if you keep they picked so it could happen.
And, if you do get a greenhouse – be sure to keep a few nice hens – they love the sunshine and cleanup any excess plant debri.
If you love gardening and make experiments trying to grow unusual plants, that’s OK for me. I used to do this myself. In the past centuries, Kings and the elite were also collecting plants, growing them in pots and/or green houses. But this was for the fun of it, not for cropping. The average people didn’t do that, because it’s useless. Even with a greenhouse. It’s just like growing orchids, they require special growing conditions difficult to meet: air moisture, special soil, feeding, light… If you have little gardening exerience, stay away from species that do not suit you climate.
So if you actually need to grow edible plants, fruits trees… to eat everyday, you’d better stick growing plants outdoors, that suits your climate. And field grown is always better and simpler than pots. If you have no garden, it’s OK to grow in pots annual herbs (lasting 1 year).
AFAIK, growing Citrus Sp. (lime, orange…) in states where farmers are growing them for cropping, is sctrictly forbidden by USDA because they’re said to transmit diseases to field grown tree. I know several person which grew Citrus bonsai for years of maintenance, care… which get their bonsai trees seized and destroyed by USDA and had to pay fees. So check with USDA.
BTW EndGamePlayer, you won’t get any edible fruit by growing Citrus from seeds in a lime. They do not reproduce by seed, but by graft. This holds true for most fruit tree.
Thank all of you for your post, always love to learn.
Thank you, please teach us more! Your information is most helpful!
It’s difficult to give general guidelines. I have several books, mostly bonsai, maybe a stack of 6 feet or so…
There are so many different climates: FL is not like MT. See: National Arboretum – USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map BTW I live in USDA Zone 8a
There are so many different plants species, each with their own growing conditions. Some are hardy, some not (killed by freeze). Some are annuals, or perenials, evergreen, deciduous… Some have large tender leaves (consume usually more water) whereas some have tiny leaves (ex thyme, rosemary) or needles, or "waxy" leaves… it all depends the species.
Experienced gardener vs beginer.
For sure the most important thing to learn is when and how to water. This is 90% of the success (or failure) of growing potted plants. This is not easy to learn, to ‘feel’ the plant, the signs something goes wrong… If the plant looks bad, get it out of the pot and inspect the roots.
Then I would say choose a well draining soil, not too compact. I forgot to mention: never use native soil from the ground to grow plant in pots since it way too compact and will kill your plant by root rot. Root require both moisture and air.
Some very good advices: Evergreen Gardenworks (see ‘Articles", not only for bonsai)
If you have specific questions, I’d glad to answer, but please let know: your USDA Zone #, the species (Latin name preffered, altough I know some common english names, in particular for trees and shrubs)…
I just had my first try hand pollinating a plant, thought I would share this
How to Hand Pollinate Garden PlantsStep1Locate and Differentiate Male and Female Flowers – Male flowers will bear
stamens and female will bear pistils. The female always has a small fruit on the
Plants Needing Hand Pollination – Hand pollination is necessary with plants that
have a male and female flower like squash, cucumbers etc. This method is needed
if growing vegetables indoors or in a controlled environment like a greenhouse.
Some plants need less help than others to pollinate indoors. All
that is needed to help pepper and tomato plants is to gently shake the plant every couple of days to advance
pollination. Some self pollinators like peas, beans and lettuce do not need any
help to pollinate indoors.Step3
Polinate Selected Plants – Vegetables and other plants can be hand-pollinated by
taking a Q-tip or small paint brush and transferring the pollen from the male
flower to the female. Make sure to clean the brush or use a new Q-tip when
pollinating more than one type of the same plant.Step4
Insure Proper Fertilization for Pollination
– Poor production from indoor and outdoor vegetables is often caused by over
fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers rather than poor pollination.
Fertilizers high in nitrogen are desirable during the growth cycle, but once the
plants are ready to flower it is important to switch to a fertilizer higher in
phosphorus and potassium. These fertilizers generally have the word “bloom” in
their name and should have a ratio that favors the last two numbers over the
first, a fertilizer with a 1-2-2 ratio, for example.