Dwarf fruit trees are novel houseplants -- if your house is large enough

If you are the proud possessor of a new house with a greenhouse, or a spacious old house with a sunroom, you can grow tubs of trees. Dwarf fruit trees produce beautiful foliage and add luxury to spacious rooms.

Available through mail-order seed and nursery houses and in the novelty section of garden centers, these beauties grow from two to six feet tall, depending on the variety. They will produce fruit under the right conditions. However, if you envision picking bushels of full-size fruit, forget the dwarf indoor varieties and turn your efforts toward the outdoor orchard.

If you like large tub-size plants and enjoy watching the fruit grow and ripen , dwarf fruit trees are for you.

Many of these fruits will be small but they are very tasty. Indoor fruit trees do better if they can be moved outdoors after all danger of frost is past in the spring and returned to their indoor spot in the fall before frost. A deck or porch that is somewhat protected from the wind makes an ideal spot for the fruit trees to spend the summer.

The potted trees enhance the outdoor living area and it is easy to water them regularly with the garden hose.

Dwarf fruit trees may produce fruit as early as six months after planting the started stock. Fruit trees grown from seeds you save from ripened fruit take up to 10 years to produce fruit and may never bear fruit. The varieties of fruit you buy at the supermarket are produced on special trees that do not readily adapt to indoor culture. They are products of a huge commercial outdoor orchard.

Interesting foliage may be produced by planting seeds from fruit but it is unlikely there will be blossoms or fruit.

A green thumb is not necessary to grow indoor dwarf trees. Any good garden loam or potting soil will suffice if you place plenty of gravel or broken crockery in the bottom of the tub before planting the tree. Three inches of drainage material in a tub is not too much. Any good houseplant fertilizer, used according to directions, will enhance the prospects of abundant fruit.

Dwarf fruit trees can be shaped and pruned much as the larger outdoor varieties.

Sun is essential to flowering and fruiting trees. A south exposure will produce more fruit. However, if it is foliage you desire and don't care about the jewellike fruit, a north window will produce abundant folaige on most dwarf trees.

Almost any of the tropical fruit trees now are available in a dwarf indoor variety suitable for tub growing. These add excitement to indoor gardens and a luxurious air to any room. The fruits are delicious treats for children. Caring for them is as simple as trying to simulate the conditions under which the tree grows in its natural state.

Ponderosa-type everbearing dwarf lemon trees bear extraordinarily beautiful glossy-green foliage and white flowers that are shaded purplish on the outside. The lemons are large, round, and very mild flavored. The fruit has excellent keeping quality and can be used in any way that commercially grown lemons are used.

The ponderosa-type lemon grows only two feet tall despite the fact the some of the fruit may reach a pound or two in weight. This is one of the easiest of the dwarf fruits to grow and the most certain to produce satisfactory fruits. All it asks is a weekly watering making the soil wet. Allow the top of the soil to become dry to the touch before you water it again.

The broken crockery or gravel at the bottom of the tub will hold ample water to feed the plant for a week.

Dwarf orange is very decorative when the fruits are ripening.The oranges are small but very tangy and tasty. They can be eaten or pickled like kumquats.

The most popular orange for indoor culture is known as the Otaheite Orange. This tree also grows about two feet tall and produces many of the small fruits in return for very ordinary care. A weekly watering and a few applications of houseplant fertilizer result in a vigorous plant that is a conversation piece.

Figs that are as large as plums grow sweet and succulent in indoor tubs. The grayist-green foliage is less spectacular than that of citrus fruits but the figs are more of a novelty. The fruits will develop in summer when the pot is set outdoors.

In late summer the dwarf fig should be moved indoors to allow the fruits to ripen.

Fig trees grow to three or four feet in indoor tubs. Figs do not like wet feet so adequate drainage should be a smaller size. The banana tree in it natural state is very tall. The dwarf variety reaches 5 or 6 feet and takes 2 or 3 years to mature to fruit-bearing age.

Its requirements are the same as for other exotic fruits. It is imperative that the banana tree is kept indoors in winter since it is not as hardy as the citrus fruits which may withstand some cold.

Bananas are easily broken off by high winds so if you allow it to summer over on the deck or in the garden, be sure it enjoys protection from high winds. After bearing fruit, ratoons appear on the banana tree. These growths are inedible but decorative. Your banana tree will amaze you with its tropical foliage and real bananas.

Indoor grapefruit always has been a slow producer. However, new grafting methods have resulted in a dwarf grapefruit that matures in 2 or 3 years and yields delightful pink-fleshed fruit. This tree requires a minimum amount of care and will yield pretty white flowers and glossy foliage despite infrequent waterings and lack of fertilizer.

Dwarf fruit trees present no more problems than most flowering plants. Because of their size, they do require room; and, as is true of all flowering plants, they require at least 4 to 6 hours of unfiltered sunshine.

The fruits are an extra bonus for forfeiting space to these exotic plants. Dwarf fruit trees do not easily outgrow their quarters and require very little attention outside the regular waterings and occasional application of fertilizer.

While dwarf fruit trees are not expected to alleviate the grocery bill very much, there is a special excitement in growing occasional juicy treats.

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