As a scientist, I’ve always enjoyed pushing the limits. One of those limits has been growing fruit trees indoors. The easy part is growing the tree and the difficult part is actually getting the tree to produce fruit. This gardening in Canada blog post is going to go over exactly what it takes to grow fruit trees indoors and actually have them bear fruit.
What Fruits Can You Grow Indoors In Canada?
- Meyer Lemon
- Calamondin Orange
- Goji Berries
- Dwarf Banana
- Pepper Plants
- Mulberry Tree
- Apricot Tree
- Passion Flower
Easiest Indoor Fruit Trees/Plants To Grow In Canada
- Pepper Plants
- Meyer Lemon
- Calamondin Orange
What Should You Look For When Selecting A Plant
- Ensure the variety you’ve chosen is not a decorative version and is a true fruit option. It is not uncommon for someone to purchase an oriental pepper plant or banana tree expecting it to be able to reproduce with fruits
- Look for hybrid options at local nurseries or breeding programs. This can help you find smaller versions of the larger known varieties.
- Aim for smaller underdeveloped plants at the store. The reason for this is smaller plants tend to transport better and are less likely to enter a shock phase.
What type of lighting is needed when caring for Fruit Trees?
To induce flowering we need proper lighting. A full spectrum or blurple LED will accomplish this. You do not need to supplement light all year long, just for the season you want fruit. Work with the sun and long summer days by supplementing light during the spring and early summer months. During the winter you can save some cash by allowing the plant to have some downtime.
If you want to continue the growth of foliage throughout the winter then leave the supplemental light on all year for 8-12 hours per day. Despite our best efforts with grow lights, it’s important to remember to rotate the plant to avoid any leaning. The sun always wins when a plant has to choose a direction to go in. Rotating the plant weekly will help prevent uneven growth.
For smaller trees such as a juvenile Meyers, pepper tree, avocado, lime tree, etc. Consider a grow tent with reflective walls. This will drastically increase your success rate and help increase the overall yields.
What soil type do you need to ensure fruiting plants indoors?
Pot size is arguably the most important part when selecting soil type. If you have a smaller pot that needs to be watered more often soil with higher water holding capacity is ideal. If you have a larger pot and potential for underutilized water reserves then you’ll want to go with a mix with plenty of porosity. Picking the pot size should be based on your habits and lifestyle.
If you’re wanting a routine of watering once a week on Saturdays then go with a smaller pot with a slightly denser medium. My favourite is Promix HP. If you want to water once a month tries a larger pot with a medium that contains wood chips or orchid bark. One thing to keep in mind is trees in flowers need plenty of nutrients and water.
Topdressing the potting soil with compost will help deliver the nutrients the tree needs. Most nutrients are water-soluble and when we water gravity will do the work of moving that nutrient from the surface to the roots below.
Growing Degree Days For Fruiting Trees
All plants have a set number of days to flower and eventually fruit. Things such as disease, pests, sunshine & water can all cause fewer GDUs (growing degree units) to be accumulated. Over time these will push your eventual harvest of fruit back farther. You need to try and achieve an optimal environment with the fewest number of stressors.
This means things like preventative pest management in the form of predatory nematodes and predatory mites are going to be a must! I have several articles and videos on how to use these products to help you prevent pests BEFORE they cause damage.
How to stimulate fruiting on an indoor fruit tree?
When it comes to stimulating fruiting you want to ensure a bloom fertilizer is being used. But you also want to ensure it is getting enough light. This means 16-18 hours of bright direct lighting either from a window or a grow light. To trigger flowering you need to drop the lighting down to 12 hours. Below is a chart to walk you through lighting requirements for fruiting and flowering.
|Plants Growth Stage||Fertilizer Requirements||Lighting Hours & Intensity|
|Vegetative Growth||All Purpose – High N||16-18 Hrs Bright Light|
|Fruiting Triggering||Bloom Formula – Soil Moisture above 60%||12 Hrs Bright Light 12 Hrs Dark|
|Holding Fruit||Bloom Formula – Soil Moisture above 60%||14 Hrs Bright Light|
How long does it take for an indoor fruit tree to produce fruit?
It depends on the tree for some of the larger plants it can be 3-5 years in the correct conditions. However, with things such as pepper plants, the fruiting will begin within the first 6 months of the plant’s life. To help speed the process of getting a fruit tree to produce is light, fertilizer and water. Whenever possible keep the potting soil pH at a 6.5 by using lime to help with nutrient absorption.
A neutral potting soil pH combined with 16-18 hrs of light and soil moisture above 50% will quickly achieve a fruiting indoor tree. For more information on this check out my YouTube videos going over potting soils and fertilizing indoor plants.
Fertilizer For Indoor Fruiting Trees
You will want to use a flowering formula to help the tree with flowering a fruit production. Typically indoor fertilizers are geared toward foliage production. This is okay in the off-season when we don’t want flower production. But around April – May think about changing the fertilizer regiment. Try this formula by clicking here
Losing Leaves On Indoor Tree? Why?
Leaves falling off is something that happens with trees indoors. It is common in the first month after it has been transported to the home. This is due to the fact that the tree needs to adjust to the new environment and balance of air moisture and lighting. To lessen the effects of shock do not repot the plant until you see new growth. This can take time, sometimes months depending on the journey or change in environment. You can also fertilize when you water with a transplant fertilizer typically higher in phosphorus and potassium.
Red Dots On Fruit Tree Leaves?
Also common is called rusting. I have a video on this because I had a lot of questions asking why this happens. This is caused by the underwatering of the plant. Another common sign of underwatering in a plant is leaf dropping in winter. The easiest way to curb this is through the use of a moisture meter. Check your water levels to get an accurate measurement of the water content. This will help you avoid permanent wilting point which is what causes the leaf to drop within a plant.
Blotching Yellow On Leaves
This is a common sign of thrips. Thrips are common with fruit trees because of the volume of soil needed to keep a fruit tree happy. The fix to this is simple and completely organic is biological nematodes. These little critters will eat the thrips eggs ending the seemingly endless cycle of bugs. Check out my article on them here.
Crisp Edges / Brown Spots
This is caused by one of two things ambient humidity or salts inside the soil. I have a video on how to tell the difference here. To prevent salt buildup aim to water top-down rather than bottom watering. To prevent signs of moisture issues try a grow tent or humidifier. This will also help prevent the dropping of blooms. Yellowing To knows if this is a nutrient issue or watering issue we need to look at the soil. Is the soil wet? If the answer is yes, then it is most likely chlorosis. Chlorosis is caused when the soil is too moist causing a nutrient deficiency. The best solution for this is to:
- Take a fork and run it across the soil surface to increase the rate of evaporation
- Stop watering till the soil is dry
If the answer is no, then it’s possibly a nutrient deficiency. This should be a rare case if you are using compost and supplemental fertilizer.
Pro-Tips/insider Tips For Keeping Fruit Trees Indoors
Mycorrhiza – typically thought to be an outside door soil addition. It can work miracles indoors by increasing water usage to prevent anaerobic environments. It also solubilizes organic nutrients into bioavailable nutrients
Cover Cropping – using a cover crop that is inoculated with rhizobium bacteria and is a part of the legume family will work wonders for your fruit tree. This is going to increase water utilization. This is perfect for notorious over-watering plant parents. Secondly, it’s going to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. This is organic fertilizer for the tree that is readily available for uptake. The third benefit is the yummy snack you will be able to enjoy after the cover crop has served its purpose. Depending on what you choose you can have peas, beans, chickpeas and the list goes on.
I hope you found this guide on keeping fruit trees indoors helpful. let me know in the comments if you keep fruit trees inside and what your tips and tricks are.