They’re beautiful AND fruitful. What’s not to love?

By Sarah Baird
March 11, 2020
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For many “plant parents,” the urge to be fruitful and multiply once that first piece of greenery sprouts its way into their hearts can be pretty overwhelming. Soon, what started out as a single fiddle-leaf fig in a once-bare corner of the living room has blossomed into kitchen shelves brimming with chocolate basil and oregano, pots of English ivy hanging from the ceiling and a burning desire to rescue any neglected aloe or spider plant that needs a little TLC.

What can still seem intimidating for even the most green-thumbed and green-hearted enthusiast, though, is growing plants that are indoor friendly and edible—herbs and alliums notwithstanding. Fortunately, fruit trees are here to answer the call. Yes, you read correctly! Indoor fruit trees are made by grafting together a typical (outdoor-ready) fruit tree with dwarf rootstock or simply pruning back a container-grown plant—meaning they thrive indoors with just a little bit of extra attention.

If you’re ready to begin your own dining room (or bedroom, or bathroom) orchard, start by stocking up on pots that can support a large root system—at least a foot deep—and make sure you’ve found a vetted, reputable source for your plants. (There are some shady people out there hocking less-than-healthy plants, believe it or not.) For easiest just-getting-started growing and faster fruit production, aim for plants that are already 2-3 years old. And then explore these miniature fruit tree varieties that will ensure your family of indoor plants isn’t just beautiful—it’s bountiful.

 Meyer Lemon

These self-pollinating citrus plants produce a cult-favorite fruit that’s smaller than a regular lemon and less acidic, making them perfect for a host of dishes—from lemon bars to marinades. Meyer lemon plants need a good deal of direct sunlight when grown indoors (at least 8 hours per day, preferably from a south-facing window) and should be moistened with a spritz of water frequently to help replicate a higher humidity. When the summer months arrive, give the plants a little treat by moving them outside to a sunny patio. 

Arbequina Olive

If you’re looking for an elegant tree that isn’t shy about producing, look no further than the drippy, dainty Arbequina olive tree and its delicious black fruits. A textured soil—like a sandy loam or silt loam—with good drainage will make these trees the happiest, as will a good bit of sunlight that’s not quite direct due to their propensity to sunburn. Make sure to prevent the tree from bumping into the ceiling by pruning it back to a manageable height (6 feet or so) a couple of times a year.

Kumquat

Growing kumquats indoors will quickly introduce you to a new favorite snack: simply pluck them whole and devour—skin and all! These funky little citrus jewels follow the same growth protocol as other indoor citrus plants (like Meyer lemon) and can benefit from regular pruning to keep the produce coming in strong.  

Dwarf Moorpark Apricot 

An apricot tree that maxes out around 6 feet (and takes well to pruning), this apricot variety needs plenty of sunlight (notice a trend?), loamy soil, and good drainage in order to produce fruit. The apricots will be ready for picking when they turn from green to their signature golden-orange hue.

Other options worth exploring: Tangerines, Nectarines, Fingerling Limes, Dwarf Cavendish Banana, Avocados and Brown Turkey Figs.