Gardening

9 Types of Indoor Fruit Trees You Can Grow in Your Living Room

Like houseplants, but better.

May 14, 2020
Photo by Ty Mecham

There are decorative house plants and then there are edible plants that you tend to in a tiny kitchen garden. But what about in between?

If you're looking for an indoor plant that's both decorative and edible, look to the world of fruit trees! While many grow to be enormous in the wild and are native to perpetually sunny conditions, there are a number of dwarf plants that will do just fine—and even fruit—in a big pot in your living room. We asked for a vote of confidence from Bloomscape's Plant Mom, Joyce Mast, who is equipped with 40 years of plant knowledge—and a healthy dose of intuition. "It is very possible to grow fruit trees indoors! But it is best to purchase the dwarf varieties (for size) and the most mature trees (faster fruiting times) available," she says.

Most fruit trees, she adds, need bright, full sun for approximately 6-8 hours a day all year long to present with fruit. "If you do not have an area in your home where you can give it enough light, consider using a grow light or placing your fruit tree outdoors during the summer months," she says. Also important to remember: use a pot with drainage holes so there is no water build-up in the bottom of the pot, which will cause root rot.

Proper care and conditions (and a reliable nursery for sourcing them!) are extra important if you want an indoor fruit tree to prosper, but we have confidence in your drive. Here's a primer on fruit trees that you can grow indoors, and how much light and water each needs to thrive.

1. Figs

Now that you've seen this stunner, will you ever go back to fiddleleaf? Photo by Another Ballroom (via Riazzoli)

Fruit?

If you want a fig tree that fruits, steer clear of the decorative fiddleleaf—which won't even consider it. Instead choose a small cultivar like Brown Turkey (also known as Negro Largo or Aubique Noire), a Plant Mom personal favorite which tolerates heavy pruning, is self-pollinating, and can thrive indoors. They'll sprout pretty oblong leaves.

Planting & Care

The size of the pot you choose will factor into how large and productive your tree becomes (opt for a larger planter for more fruit, smaller if you need the fig tree to stay small). "This tree also prefers a loamy soil-mix of clay and sand," says Mast. Water it about once a week, until it comes out of the drainage holes, and prune when its as many feet tall as you want. Mast also recommends misting regularly, since figs prefer a humid place to grow.

Habitat

While inedible fig trees do fine in indirect sunlight, edible cultivars will need to be positioned in bright light—right in line with a northern exposure would be ideal. They don't like the cold at all, so keep them well away from drafty doors and windows.

2. Lemons & 3. Limes & 4. Oranges

Happy indoor lemons. Photo by Atelier Rue Verte, Ode to Things

Fruit?

If you want to grow citrus inside, opt for a dwarf cultivar that self-pollinates—like Meyer Lemon (which is self-pollinating and doesn't require as much heat to ripen the fruit) or Lime; they'll yield the quickest crop and the plant will stay a manageable size. "Kaffir or Key Lime (hello, pie) are also both good dwarf varieties of lime trees," says Mast. For oranges, keep an eye out for Calamondin trees—the fruit is very sour (more like a lemon or lime)—which are the best for indoor growing conditions. Mast uses these oranges often in cooking. Plus, they're a gorgeous decoration, and emanate a delicious aroma.

Planting & Care

The best soil for growing healthy citrus trees is slightly acidic and loam-based (meaning 2:2:1 sand to silt to clay). They also like lots of moisture in the air—up to 50 percent humidity, ideally!—but you can simulate that environment by spritzing them regularly with water from a spray bottle, or by placing them near a humidifier. It's also best to keep the soil ever so slightly moist, and not let it dry out completely. (When watering, note that citrus trees prefer a lukewarm tepid temperature to freezing cold.)

Habitat

No surprise here: Citrus plants need a whole lot of sunlight—8 to 12 hours of it every day. Place your tree in the sunniest window spot you have—better yet if it's a room with double exposure (southern and eastern, say). And if you have any outdoor space, they'd appreciate a few months in the fresh air if you have a balmy summer.

More: A week of dinner recipes inspired by a bag of Meyer Lemons.

5. Olives

Fruit?

Self-pollinating and prolific (a single tree can produce as many as 20 pounds of fruit a year), olive trees do not require much care compared to other fruit trees. When shopping for an indoor olive tree, keep in mind that many cultivars are purely ornamental, meaning they won't fruit, but there are great indoor varieties that will: Consider an Arbequina—which is slow-growing and will drip water through the leaves (called "weeping")—or a Picholine, which is more upright.

Planting & Care

Indoor olive trees need only be watered when the top inch of soil has dried out, and less in fall and winter when they take a natural rest.

Habitat

An olive tree needs at least six hours of solid sunlight each day. Place it near a sunny, south-facing window (but not too close or the leaves will frizzle).

6. Avocados

Fruit?

To be clear, it's very very tough to get an indoor avocado tree to fruit but it isn't impossible. Instead of growing one from a seed (that is, the pit—see above left), seek out a grafted starter plant that has some tissue from a tree that does produce good-tasting fruit. Naturally small trees—like Wurtz, Gwen, and Whitsell—are your best bet, and they don't have to be cross-pollinated to fruit.

Planting & Care

Add some sand to the bottom of a pot and fill in with regular potting mix so your tree doesn't get wet feet, and water it regularly without letting the soil get sopping wet. Ripe fruit can be left hanging on the tree for a few weeks.

Habitat

Warm-season plants, avocados like lots of bright light. Right in line with a south-facing window is your best shot at finding it a happy place!


Speaking of avocado

7. Bananas

Photo by Hardy Tropicals

Fruit?

Some banana trees produce edible fruit while others produce fruit you can't eat—and again you'll want to get a dwarf plant—such as Super Dwarf Cavendish or Dwarf Red—so that it doesn't grow too huge. They're self-fruitful, meaning they don't require a pollinator.

Planting & Care

Your banana tree's soil should be light and peat-y; fertilize it monthly to keep it growing strong. They like lots of water due to their enormous leaves, but you'll want to let the soil dry out fully between waterings. The leaves can be misted to simulate a humid climate.

Habitat

Lots of bright indirect sunlight is best, so set it up near a southern-facing exposure if possible. Rotate the plant periodically so that all sides get light.


And...Speaking of Bananas

8. Apricots

Fruit?

Yet again, you'll want to opt for a dwarf apricot tree (between two and five feet tall at the most if you live in an apartment!) if you're growing it indoors. "Moorpark and Goldcot are my recommended dwarf varieties of apricot trees," says Mast. They can also be kept small with regular pruning. If you buy a young tree (as opposed to growing a tree form a pit) and with proper care, you could be eating apricots as soon as the first year.

Planting & Care

"Both Moorpark and Goldcot prefer a snug pot with a loamy soil-mix of clay and sand," says Mast. Also recommended is mixing some compost or manure into the soil as this will add lots of nutrients that promote healthy growth. Water regularly so the soil does not dry out.

Habitat

If you can give your apricot tree about six to eight hours of light daily, even indirect, it should stay happy. Consider a well-lit south-facing window area—and consider buying growth lights if you think it could use the extra bit of boost.

9. Mulberries

Photo by Logee's

Fruit?

Yes, you guessed it: a dwarf mulberry tree is best if you're growing it indoors. Opt for one like the Dwarf Everbearing. The fruit of a mulberry tree, which will look something like a blackberry but smaller, should be picked as soon as it's ripe—and the tree's fruit supply will ripen over time rather than all at once.

Planting & Care

Regular potting soil works fine, as will regular watering! Mulberry trees are slow-growing and like roomy pots.

Habitat

A warm, bright, sunny space is best for your mulberry tree; move it to a spot with full exposure from spring through fall, if possible.

What's your favorite indoor tree? Let us know in the comments!

This article was originally published in Spring 2016, and we're running it again because we love greenery indoors.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.

67 Comments

legox58864 June 10, 2020

thank you for sharing!



https://food52.com/blog/16084-7-types-of-fruit-trees-you-can-grow-in-your-living-room
 
Annabelle May 15, 2020
I cannot imagine the mess that would be an indoor mulberry tree!
 
Kendall May 15, 2020
I live in a New York City apartment and these trees look lovely but I am also nervous about the bugs and critters that these trees would attract
 
Karen May 22, 2020
That was my question too!
 
Lakants May 14, 2020
Hello,
I just received this Lovely little Meyer lemon tree for Mother’s Day. I noticed that many of the leaves have tiny holes in them and also I noticed a white powdery substance. I am worried there is something wrong with it! How can I reach someone on your team to return it and resolve this issue?
Thank you
 
Stu May 14, 2020
In response to Meyer lemon tree with little holes in leaves and powdery substance. My guess is that you have mites or nematodes and the white "powder" was used as a treatment. It's possible that an advanced spider mite infestation could have white secretions, but you would also see "webs" between leaves and stems. If you have a decent magnifying glass or one of those optical scopes (about $30 on Amazon), get a better look at what's going on. Treatment for common infestations are generally effective and cheap. You may need multiple rounds of treatment.
 
Lakants May 14, 2020
Thanks for the advice although since I have only received this a few days ago I would prefer FOOD52 to send me a new tree since it arrived to me in this condition, rather than spending more $$ trying to fix a sick tree
 
Arvind K. May 14, 2020
Dear white powder found when small flies comes on it and weather changes from winter to summer, sometimes in rainy season also. U can use simple anti insect spray but in small quantity . Excess use can drop flowers.
 
Lauren K. May 31, 2020
You can reach their customer service team on any of your order emails, or by the Contact links on the site: https://food52.com/p/contact-us

They don't read every comment on the site, so it's best that you just drop them a note directly! Good luck with the tree—sounds like a fun and lovely addition to any home.
 
Duchaine April 23, 2020
I’m in North Carolina, should I plant my it my Meyer Lemon Tree in the ground or a large container? Can it tolerate mild winter and heat? I want to make sure I do this right. Thank you!
 
Smaug April 23, 2020
Should be fine with NC weather, though I've never gardened there- they do fine with occasional triple digits here and are rated to 20 deg.F, though I usually give them protection at 30 or less. They do well in containers, or in the ground with good soil conditions (particularly drainage and absence of gophers). All citrus are heavy feeders; you should use a food designed for citrus, as micronutrients are important.
 
Stu April 23, 2020
I'd use a container or grow bucket that can go out or in. Anything under 30 will hurt or kill your citrus. I guess it depends how close to the coast/mountains you are, but a once-every-ten-years freeze will cause an agonizingly slow, yet unstoppable death. Maybe some burlap dressing in the winter. There is no way in hell that a Meyer lemon tree is hearty to 20°F. 24 hours below 30°F will kill it for sure.
 
ns April 24, 2020
Meyer Lemons will tolerate a few hours overnight in the upper 20s on occasion but no hard freezes and no snow or ice storms. I have gardened in North Carolina and I can't imagine growing one in the ground there, even along the coast. The heat should be no problem but summer's humidity might be. I would plant yours in a very very large container - half whiskey barrel size is ideal. Any smaller and it just wont grow large enough to flower and fruit much. You'll also need to fertilize it regularly with citrus and avocado food. In a pot, use half the amount recommended for in-ground trees.
 
Smaug April 24, 2020
I would imagine that lower temperature tolerances include such tricks as the use of anti transpirants, spraying leaves with water in freezing weather, mass planting etc., but I wouldn't be tempted to test it- I move my potted tree to a covered porch in freezing weather and it does fine, but temperatures here only rarely dip below the high 20's. It's also important that cold threatened citrus are well watered. If you grow it in a pot and move it indoors in winter, you should try to find a place that is relatively cool; like most trees, they will react badly to warm dry conditions of heated homes. You should also take note that potted trees will need to be either potted up or root pruned (or both) yearly. Meyer lemons can actually be very productive from small plants; in fact it may be necessary in very young plants to strip fruit to promote vegetative growth.
 
Jim W. January 14, 2020
I live on the coast just north of Boston with a good southern exposure. I have Meyer lemons, finger limes,makrut limes, and a caper bush. All have done well and are producing fruit for the past three years. The capers are a delight. Sandy soil direct light and right next to the window. The leaves are delicious as are the buds and seed pods.
 
Stu December 14, 2019
I am growing 4 fruit trees in my hydroponic garden, and they are all doing great. I have a dwarf cavendish banana plant a Gran Nain (Chiquita) banana plant. There is also a Meyer lemon tree and a Calamondin orange tree. My room is 5 x 8 x 8 with a 1200W LED grow light (190W energy usage) with a couple of fans for air movement. Reflective mylar on the walls. The light is on a timer for 12 hours a day. My soil medium is 2/3:1/3 vermiculite to perlite. All 4 fruit robustly; although the banana plants have to be cut back each year, which is fine because otherwise they'd get too big. Also growing strawberries, blueberries and grapes with less success, but still with some fruit. Especially for people growing cannabis in legal areas, these plants will drown out the odor.
 
Jilly N. September 15, 2019
I purchased an Arbequina olive tree for my bright sunny window and it is doing great! https://myperfectplants.com/product/arbequina-olive-tree/
 
Smaug June 26, 2019
Since some people might be tempted to try this, I think that I should point out that trees or shrubs in pots need to be either potted up or root pruned on a regular basis or the health of the root system will be compromised. This is generally done right before first bud break in the spring, but it takes some knowing of your plants.
 
Ian T. March 22, 2019
FYI, you should stop using the term "kaffir limes". Current usage is "Makrut."
 
Arvind K. February 10, 2019
Clove,Cardamom,Guava,strawberry,Blueberry many more plant are available we can grow early in pot, Contact [email protected]
 
Steven W. May 19, 2017
Inspiring! Thanks.
 
Alison May 19, 2017
I'd love to try a kumquat tree, since they are tasty little fruits and will look around for one. I've had a Meyer lemon for almost 15 years, and although it has never (in my opinion, relative to other indoor plants) truly flourished in its mainly indoor life, I get five to ten lemons every year. They make great cocktails. The flowers are very fragrant, and it is a pretty shrub when it's happy. I think my house (in Denver) doesn't get quite enough sun indoors, even though I would say it is a sunny house generally, so the lemon bush does best when it spends the summer outdoors. I would agree that citrus plants and other plants that like to be outside in warmer climates aren't at their best indoors in cooler climates; mine is prone to spider mites, no matter what I do, and never has as many fruit as I hope for... I assume the kumquat would be similar, but it's still worth taking a chance.
 
L May 19, 2017
I keep my kumquat tree indoors in an area with high levels of sunshine for most of the morning. I currently have over 20+ fruit on tree. When it flowers, the aroma is just beautiful but it is prevalent more in the evenings. Chinese florists/flower shops may carry them year round but especially around Chinese New year....
 
Alice May 22, 2017
I only get one or two lemons from my Meyer lemon each year. It is about ten years old, so it should be mature. What do you do to get so many lemons? It goes outside for the summer every year, and flowers in the fall when I bring it indoors.
 
Arvind K. January 11, 2019
U must try pruning,extra branches
 
GoogyMontague May 17, 2020
Sadly, kumquat trees produce only really sour fruit until they mature at approx. 40 years. My neighbor had a beautiful 90 year old tree. When they had to sell the house you can imagine my horror when my neighbor's tree was chopped down by the new owners.
 
Don't figs require wasps for pollination?
 
Winifred R. May 21, 2017
I grow Brown Turkey figs, and don't notice wasps as much when they're needing pollinated, but have found they love them when it's time to harvest and the fruit is very ripe. My bush is about 8 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide. It's to the east side of my house in SE Virginia, and I sell almost all at a local farmer's market. There gets to be almost 100 lbs/year. Probably more info than you wanted, but most of what I can think of that could be pertinent.
 
shawn February 14, 2017
These are all easy to grow, fast growing, and quick to fruit. Find them online at http://paradisenursery.com/product-category/fruit-trees/
 
foofaraw February 1, 2017
My answer to instant gratification plant is kaffir lime tree. With grow light and southern exposure, the tree grows fine indoor (a friend do similarly without grow light, and it sheds leaves in winter and slower in growth, but still ok), and you can always use fresh kaffir lime leaves anytime you want to make Thai dishes. No need to wait for fruits!
 
L January 12, 2017
If there's a way to load a picture of my indoor kumquat tree , I would. At least I think it's a kumquat tree. I bought it for my mom for Chinese New Years about 15 yes ago and it has never stopped bearing fruit. My mom passed away 2 yes ago and it has come back to my possession and for the life of me, I can't remember what the identification tag said the tree was. It's small, round and orangr
 
foofaraw February 1, 2017
Normally you need to load your photos somewhere else (imgur/reddit/photobucket/google photos with changed permission), then post the link of the image here.
 
L February 1, 2017
Thank you for your feedback. Food52 should perhaps have that option here.
 
Lynda W. May 23, 2017
Possibly Calamondin? My mother grew one of these in a pot for a very long time. It was quite productive under less-than-ideal conditions although it did go outside for sun in the summer. Fruit small, round, orange, very sour,
and full of seeds. Made great jelly, though.
 
turtle_island January 11, 2017
Thanks for the article! Clearly some people have been successful in getting the trees to bear fruit, so some of the people in the comments need to settle down and stop being so rude. Even if you never get fruit, it's still nice to have one of these plants inside, and to know how to care for them.
 
Shawn C. November 29, 2016
love the photos. I think those are figs as in fig family of plant but indoor. as i know fruiting figs need outdoor light to produce. Great photo of the mulberry. http://paradisenursery.com/product-category/mulberry-trees/ and http://paradisenursery.com/product-category/fig-trees/ definitely know whats needed
 
Shawn C. November 29, 2016
love the photos. I think those are figs as in fig family of plant but indoor. as i know fruiting figs need outdoor light to produce. Great photo of the mulberry. paradisenursery.com/product-category/mulberry-trees/ and paradisenursery.com/product-category/fig-trees/ definitely know whats needed
 
Robin E. October 10, 2016
I live at an elevation of 8,100 feet in Wyoming, have had the same Meyer Lemon tree indoors for at least 20 years, and it produces a yearly crop of 15-20 nice sized lemons. I have taken it outside in the summer before but the deer can be brutal on plants so usually do not. The fragrance of the blossoms is magnificent.
 
Alice May 22, 2017
Do you fertilize? My Meyer lemon only gets one or two lemons a year.
 
Steven W. August 13, 2017
Try Dr Earth Organic Citrus and Fruit tree fertilizer. You can find it online Logee's.com