Recommend an indoor tree

greenwood85(6b)December 21, 2008

Something that will stay under 8 feet at least for a few years.

Are Japanese Maples practical for container gardening?

I'm also looking for a fruit tree that I could grow in a container, presumably outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter, if anyone has any suggestions.

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I don't know for sure if a Japanese maple would make a good indoor plant. I'm thinking not. If for a container exclusively for outdoors, I'd say yes. I've seen them growing in containers.

Ficus trees can make good indoor trees, such as, F. elastica (rubber tree) Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig)
F. benjamina (weeping fig) is another popular indoor tree, but, can lose leaves (temporarily) if stressed from being moved around place to place, low to high light, high light to low, not given enough light, or water. Sometimes they do need an adjustment time.
Schefflera is another indoor tree. If they get too large, they can be easily trimmed back.

Palms, such as, Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm) will stay around 3-4ft indoors, at least mine does. All they ask is for some good indirect light and the soil to be on the moist side.

Some of the dwarf citrus trees like orange, lemon, lime and others might be another type of tree you'll like. I find it best to keep them on the cooler side in winter, or they can drop many leaves.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 12:40AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I don't think anything like Japanese Maples will work inside unless one is really a specialist.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 9:57AM
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Outdoor trees do not survive well when taken indoors if longer than 8 - 10 days. That's days...not weeks which would be wanted to survive through a northern winter before going outdoors.

Some trees that are usually thought of as outdoor trees in southern climes, can work as a houseplant when given indoor treatment. One noted tree is the Norfolk Island Pine...grown in its natural habitat on the Pacific Island of Norfolk and grown substantially in southern Florida.

They do well in homes when given sufficient light---and that speaks of west or southern exposures.
Eight feet is possible and if the plant is not wished to go beyond that height, it is simply cut off at the top...the tree can no longer attain higher growth.
But, do some research for yourself about growing N.I.P.'s.

Citrus trees can be grown indoors, treated as much you would a houseplant. They have particular needs so you would be advised to learn about how to care for them.

while these plants can go out of doors when weather permits, they are still houseplants and must come inside when temperatures threaten.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I had an almost 11' NIP in my living room. It was inches from reaching the ceiling, so I cut the top back, maybe about 7" or more, can't remember now.
It will eventually start to grow again, only with multiple leaders/tops instead of just the one.
Some people think that runs the look of the tree, but honestly, I thought it still looked good, if not better.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 5:28PM
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Mentha(9 CA)

Japanese maples would do fine inside given enough light and you kept them cooler in the winter. I'd go with a southern or western exposure.

As for fruiting trees, Here are some which I've had inside successfully:
citrus, keep an eye on scale and mealies.
Ficus carica, (edible fig) make good houseplants also, but they do like to go dormant during the winter months.
Olive trees are good candidates, they are slow growing trees if kept in a container.
Loquats, avocados, bay, even grape vines are other choices.

I wouldn't look for fruit on most of those, but citrus has a heavenly scent when blooming, which is almost every month out of the year! If you got two different trees you could cross pollinate the flowers and come up with a new hybrid.

I would not go with the rose relatives though, apples, apricots, peaches, plums, almonds, etc. are not good candidates for inside culture, they are sappy and must have a dormancy in order to survive, which means that you'll have sticky leaves everywhere in the fall.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 1:56PM
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"I find it best to keep them on the cooler side in winter, or they can drop many leaves."

I have a key lime tree. It drops leaves if I underwater it. It drops leaves if it doesn't get JUST enough light. It leaves up and grows nicely outside in the summer though. Main problem I have is that I don't know how much to water in winter. It's in a bigger container so it can actually grow and I want to avoid rot when it's not actively growing, so I'm not watering it very much, but as I said, it gets to dry and drops leaves. Otherwise it's been pretty easy though.

Acacias, mimosas and Delonix regias apparently work indoors, although all three can get very huge very quickly apparently. I've only had experience with the latter as acacias are expensive and none of my mimosa seeds sprouted, but delonix regias can grow several feet a year, apparently, and need to be cut back constantly. Also they really need to go outdoors in the summer as they lose a lot of leaves in the winter (which makes a bit of a mess, if that bothers you).

I really like Norfolk Island Pines (A. Heterophylla, though sometimes A. Columnaris is sold as a norfolk island pine. Difference isn't noticeable till they get big). Fairly easy if you've got humidity and light. Slow growers.

Podocarps are nice too, and apparently grow substantially faster than NIPs. Apparently also tolerate really heavy pruning as they're used as hedges in southern florida. I guess.

Don't japanese maples require winter dormancy?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 11:20PM
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A couple questions.

Do the citrus trees go outside in the summer or do you keep them indoors year round?

How much light do they require? I don't have a south facing window but don't mind setting up a small light for it.

Thanks for the suggestions. I can't decide on one so I'll just have to buy 2 or 3.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 7:06AM
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Mentha(9 CA)

Citrus can go outside durring the summer months, but make sure scale and mealies are taken care of before bringing them back inside. If you want to move citrus, you'd wand it on a plant dolly or buy a dwarf tree.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 9:05AM
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Oklahoma_Tim(z7a OK)

I've read that some people like to grow coffee trees indoors. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? If they do well indoors, do you know where I can get a cheap one??

The Bonsai Forum should be a great source of info regarding the indoor care of potted trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb Bonsai Forum

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 5:53PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I don't grow many HP as I live in S. Floida so most HP are grown outdoors.
I think what you'd want is a tropical,non seasonal more of a bush than tree type plant. Obviously one that can tolerate low light conditions as well as low humidity.
Also of course one that can be hand pollinated for winter fruit. Many tropicals that fall into this catagory demand high humidity levels particularly shade growers.
I know people grow Citrus indoors but unless you have a GH I would think it would be tough. Since there are over 8,000 varieties Im sure there are some that would meet your
conditions. You'd certainly want a super dwarf,low light
non seasonal??. Would still think summering outdoors would be essential?? I have Citrus that drop production just from getting shaded by another treelol.
To my mind better choices would be other tropicals such as Pomegranate.Mango. Tropical Fig, Jaboticaba. Cherry of the Rio Grande. Maybe even Carombola,Or even more exotic such as Rambutan, Guava, Dragon fruit. if you can provide the humidity?? Again there are many cultivars of these so check carefully as to cultural conditions and size requirements.
oklahoma I grow Coffee as a yard plant.Naturally i must grow arabica due to the heat which would be a HP problem also. Would think they'd be a fair HP They are small growing,low light not to intolerant of dry conditions.
Of course you'd want to stay away from high altitude cultivars ,. Very intolerant of heat.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 6:46AM
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"Dragon fruit."

Isn't this a climbing, epiphytic cactus?

Also since I'm here, I might as well ask: Anyone tried M. Coco lately? That'd qualify, but I'm not sure how hard it is to grow and it seems to be the only viable magnolia for indoor growth. I'm not sure whether that means most don't like indoor conditions or they just get too huge rapidly (M. Coco doesn't get more than 7 feet in a container, apparently). Interested in getting one of these myself if i could find one, ever (and at a good price).

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 12:37AM
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I know of a shefflera that's 8 feet tall at the moment. These do not need really bright light either. That plant is grown in a 5 gallon bucket.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 8:56AM
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This is not a fuiting tree but what about a common 'spike'?
the kind many people over use in summer containers. They start off small but within a few years it will be a great looking tree. I have seen one grown in a house at 5+' tall and it looked great and a bit exotic. You could send it out in the summer if you want too!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 3:00PM
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What exactly is the spike you're referring too? I've heard the term applied to various ornamental grasses, Kniphofia uvaria, cordylines, and apparently Dracaenas, according to google. Actually, in general, I've seen it applied to a lot of monocots with showy flowers, too. Guessing cordyline or drac since those do form trunks, although I thought dracs were supposed to be fairly slow growing in that department.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Brugmansia. I grow 2 indoors. If you have a very dry climate, then spider mites are a problem. I spray with neem oil and put aqua globes on both for optimum performance and blooming. Then they "can" go outside in the summer.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 12:41PM
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Wow! That's an interesting looking plant! I might look into that. I was set on a Meyer's Lemon Tree, but the fact that no one seems to sell them has me rethinking it.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 9:54PM
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Greenwood, although Brugmansia's are beuatiful trees, they are poisonous. If you have kids or pets, you'd have to place it in an area little ones, feathered and furry friends couldn't get to it.
Also, in winter, they're susceptable to spider mites. Though many plants attract mites, some do more than others.

Citrus are wonderful plants. Meyer's Lemon is my favorite. It blooms and fruits throughout the year, flowers are very fragrant, and there's no danger if anyone decided to nibble. Of course citrus aren't exempt to pests, with proper care, insects can be avoided.

Another fragrant, flowering tree is Murraya.(related to citrus.) If you like scent, you'll love Murraya. If kept in a bright south or west window in winter, outdoors in summer, it'll flower 9 months out of the year. Murraya's are less likely to attract insects, too..

I found my Murray at Osco Drug store for 19.99 several years back.

Here's my Murraya outdoors in summer..In winter it's placed in an upstairs bedroom, in a south window..
Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 3:28AM
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My ficus benjamina is over 8 foot but you can easily prune it to any height. It is going through "autumn" here at the moment, it's annual massive sheding of leaves due to low winter light.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Tim, coffee trees grow indoors during winter then summered outdoors. They are a tad finicky, but bright light, a room that isn't too warm, dry and stuffy, coffee's do fine.
I bought a small Coffee on Ebay under 5.00, Kona arabica, this summer.

Amccour, I believe Koicool is referring to Spike's sold in garden centers in spring. They're Cordylines, (also related to Dracaenas.) Most are green, but newer species are available in purple, deep purple, and variegated purple/red. They grow into beautiful plants.
Spikes are usually planted in the center of a container, small or hanging plants potted around the spike and near the edge of the container.

There's so many plants to choose. Toni

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 12:39AM
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Olahoma Tim, don't precisely look for a cheap tree....let's say instead a less expensive one and they can be sometimes purchased at reduced prices at end of season sales.

Greenwood, I know your question related to a growing indoor tree but if this is something to decorate a corner of a room, I heartily suggest instead -- an artificial tree that can do as well for you, or maybe a lot better improvement for your furnishing skills.

Artificial trees come in all manner of form and if you don't especially go for Christmas Trees, can often be decorated to serve as such without the evergreen look.

If your search for a living tree is though what you desire, during your searches do wait until spring when the new stock arrives in your garden centers and nurseries.
Often suppliers might wish to drag out an old one from storage and put it on sale. Such plant might have problems and so should be avoided. Buy the best you can at affordable prices but get the better one when new.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 3:07PM
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