Your Guide to Growing Fruit Trees Indoors in Pots

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You don't need an orchard to grow fruit. Follow expert tips for growing indoor fruit trees in pots, from coffee plants to kumquats.

Can You Grow Fruit Trees in Pots?

Marlemoshs9126130Dennis Albert Richardson/Shutterstock
A small lemon tree growing in a container

You don’t need a sprawling orchard in your backyard to grow fragrant, delicious fruit. You just need plenty of sun and ample indoor space, plus some patience. Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin, authors of Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere and co-owners of Logee’s Plants for Home and Garden in Danielson, Connecticut, offer some expert tips to grow indoor fruit trees.

Indoor Fruit Trees Need Lots of Light

Most fruit trees—even the more shade-tolerant ones—need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day to produce a crop. A large, unobstructed southern- or western-facing window is an ideal spot for a potted fruit tree. If you don’t have enough natural light, look into grow lights.

Learn how to grow an indoor lemon tree.

Give Indoor Fruit Trees Room to Grow

Lemon treeNew Africa/Shutterstock
Make sure to place your fruit tree in a large space

When planted in the ground, fruit tree roots spread out to find water and nutrients. Most potted plants do fine in plastic containers, notes Byron. Just make sure your pot is large enough to allow for growth and has drainage holes, as water buildup can cause root rot.

“Plants that are susceptible to root diseases are best grown in terra cotta pots,” Byron adds.

Fill containers with standard potting soil mix and add plant-specific fertilizer regularly. Psst—here’s our guide to plant fertilizer 101.

Watering and Pruning Indoor Fruit Trees

Close-up of limes on the tree (Citrus aurantifolia)DEA / C.DANI / I.JESKE/Getty Images
Water your indoor lime tree regularly

Water fruit trees when the soil becomes dry on the surface, making sure to saturate the potting mix. If possible, keep your home’s humidity around 50% for best results.

Byron also suggests pruning to maintain the trees’ size and form while being careful to not cut off the flowering growth.

Get expert tips to grow an indoor avocado tree.

Pick the Right Types of Fruit Trees to Grow Indoors

Larger temperate fruiting trees, such as apple, cherry, pear and plum, belong outside, says Byron. They require chilling time and plenty of height and room to bear fruit. Instead, he recommends selecting tropical or subtropical fruiting plants that’ll be happy indoors.

Citrus Trees

Kumquat treeNew Africa/Shutterstock
Kumquat tree

Byron says citrus trees, such as kumquats, are great plants for indoor gardening because they produce fruit very early in their growth.

Lemon and lime are two easy picks for beginners. Meyer lemon trees are quite hardy, and their fruit has more flavor than grocery store versions. Lime leaf and Key lime trees also yield quick crops.

Here’s how to grow a clementine tree indoors.

Arabica Coffee Plant

Yellow cherry coffeePhoto courtesy of Logee’s Plants for Home & Garden/logees.com
Yellow cherry coffee

Try growing your own coffee beans with an Arabica coffee plant! Laurelynn says coffee plants tolerate lower indoor light than most other fruiting plant options.

“The cherries, or coffee beans, are green before they ripen to red,” she says. “Then you can shuck off the fleshy pulp and get the raw coffee beans inside.”

She suggests storing the beans in the freezer until you have collected enough to roast for a cup of coffee.

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Lemon Guava Trees

lemon guava treeVia Merchant

Lemon guava (Psidium littorale) is a tropical plant that does quite well indoors.

“It tolerates the dry air and lower light found in homes, has shiny leaves and begins to fruit at 3 feet,” Laurelynn says.

Wait for guava to turn completely yellow before enjoying its sweet flavor.

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Tree Tomato

Tree tomatoPhoto courtesy of Logee’s Plants for Home & Garden/logees.com
Tree tomato

Originally from South America, a tree tomato plant produces egg-shaped red fruit that has a custard-like texture. The plant, which is sometimes called tamarillo, will fruit from late summer through the winter.

It does well indoors and is best grown from a cutting, according to Laurelynn, because it’ll flower and produce fruit when the plant is smaller.

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Get the top 5 tips for growing tomatoes indoors (from a tomato expert).

When to Take Your Fruit Trees in Pots Outside

Once danger of frost has passed in your area, your fruit trees can enjoy the outdoors and the beneficial insects that will pollinate them. Here’s how to find the first and last frost dates for your area.

Byron points out that it’s important to move the plants slowly. Put them in shade or partial shade first so the leaves don’t burn, and let them harden off for a few days.

Next, check out the best outdoor fruit trees for small spaces.

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Wendy Helfenbaum
Wendy Helfenbaum is a freelance journalist and urban gardener in Zone 5 who enjoys the flexibility of container gardening. Follow her on Twitter: @WendyHelfenbaum