I don’t know about you, but when I think about tropical fruit plants, my home in western Massachusetts isn’t the place that comes to mind. Not even close. I bet it’s not what you picture either. For me, the imagination goes to a lush, warm paradise with gorgeous trees abundant with mangoes, figs, and pineapples. Or maybe papayas, kumquats, and bananas.
What about mixing the two, though? You and I may love tropical fruits, but tropical fruits probably don’t love us unless we live in a tropical climate. There is, however, a solution. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this, because I have local New England friends who most definitely grow tropical plants like banana trees, and you can too.
Yes, you can grow tropical fruit plants wherever you live
Let’s go inside for this, shall we? If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9, 10, or higher, you may be able to grow tropical fruit plants and trees outdoors. As for the rest of us, the best chance of success will come with container planting and either keeping the plant indoors or keeping it outdoors and moving it inside when the temperature drops.
There are actually a number of tropical fruit plants you can grow indoors in containers.
- Kumquats and Meyer lemons are both container champs.
- Tangerines and other small orange varietals also grow great indoors in containers.
- Banana trees I’ve personally witnessed thrive in sunrooms.
- Certain guava varieties and mangoes do well in containers.
- Even Pineapples can be grown in containers, you can even re-grow them by planting their stalks.
- Granted, even dwarf varieties can get pretty big. The Glen mango, for instance, can grow up to 10-feet tall, though a smaller container will limit the size.
Of course, each plant will have specific growing needs, but here are the basics to growing most tropical plants indoors.
- Keep it sunny. Give the plant as much sunlight as possible. It’s ideal if you can place it near a south-facing window.
- Keep it warm. While some tropical fruit plants will tolerate brief drops in temperature, they do best if you can keep the thermostat at 60 or higher. Remember, these plants thrive in areas with long, hot summers and short, warm winters.
- Keep it humid. Again, many of these plants are native to humid regions, so they do best when you can maintain a humidity level of at least 50%. That’s not true for every fruit, of course. Some, such as figs, are native to more arid climates.
- Take care of the soil. No surprise here. Like almost every plant, tropical fruit plants like moist, well-drained soil.
- Watch your watering. Watering can get a little tricky. Some plants need the soil to dry out between waterings. Others need continual moisture and regular watering.
- Fertilize frugally and festively. Like water, fertilization can vary a lot among different plants.
I might add that if you live in some of the cooler zones, where winter nights are long and dark, you may need to think about getting a grow light for some of these tropical fruit plants.
If you want to learn more about some of our favorite tropical fruit plants, check out the Avocado Collection, the Kumquat Collection, and the Lemons Collection. We give you everything you need to know about growing and enjoying these delightful fruits. From the history and background of each of them to specific advice about soil requirements and fertilizer … from watering techniques to details about avoiding pests and diseases … from easy-to-make and delicious recipes that will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor to the nutritional benefits—get it all in these collections right now!