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Author Topic: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US  (Read 2997 times)

coyote

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Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US
« on: December 02, 2019, 10:47:17 AM »
Hi All I'm creating this thread to document my success and failures growing tropical and sub-tropicals in Wisconsin. I realize this topic might only have limited interest for those who live in tropical areas, but I hope that it can be a resource for those who decide to try and grow these plants outside of their comfort zones and serve as a source of encouragement.  I have up to this point grown all my plants in pots and moved them outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter where I use supplemental lighting in the form of Compact Fluorescents and LEDs. I'm starting this thread now because now 5 years in I am starting to have success fruiting some of these plants. 
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 10:20:20 AM by coyote »

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 10:53:46 AM »
Nice, what have you got?  I am having good success with citrus and a mango in my greenhouse with only sunlight, no added lighting.  I got a bunch of true tropicals this summer, so far so good.

Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 10:59:57 AM »
Sign me up! I have had some awesome successes, as well as some spectacular failures...

Carolyn - Idaho, zone 6

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 11:08:17 AM »
hi guys glad to hear there's at least some interest...and I'll post a quick running list a little later after I run around town a bit...I've put together a post on my first fruit here in a sec...

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2019, 11:08:48 AM »
Lemon Guava (P. cattleyanum var. littorale)

I started some Lemon Guava from seed a little less than 3 years ago back in January of 2017 and the seedling that I kept has produced 7 fruits for me in a two gallon pot. It's in need of an up-potting which I will try and do in the spring at which time I will probably prune it back to promote branching and keep it at a manageable height. 



I've enjoyed the fruit which tasted to me (in my very limited experience) like a mild slightly sweet lemon flavored pear with a hint of that typical guava flavor.

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2019, 11:39:41 AM »
I have a red cattley guava that is has just started its first fruits, and a yellow that needs another year or two but is growing quickly.  I have never tried cattley guava, looking forward to it.

Daintree, what were your spectacular failures?

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2019, 12:36:05 PM »
what I'm currently growing:
*Note I've put seedling next to plants trees not because they are still seedlings, but to note that they were grown from seed

Phoenix dactylifera                        Date Palm Seedling
Adansonia digitata                        Baobab Seedling   
Punica granatum                          Pomegranate Seedling   
Citrus ◊ sinensis                        Moro Blood Orange Seedling
Carissa macrocarpa                        Natal Plum Seedlings
Ficus carica                            Common Fig (Ischia)   
Ficus carica                                Common Fig (Olympian)   
Hylocereus guatemalensis        Dragon Fruit (American Beauty)      
Hylocereus Hybrid                        Dragon Fruit (Edgar's Baby)
Psidium cattleyanum                Strawberry Guava Seedling   
Psidium cattleyanum var. littorale  Lemon Guava Seedling
Eriobotrya japonica                         Loquat Seedlings
Coffea canephora (robusta)          Coffee Robusta   
Cereus repandus                    Peruvian Apple Cactus   
Ugni myricoides                         Black Chilean Guava Seedling
Ananas comosus                         73-50 Pineapple    
Plinia cauliflora x aureana         Red Hybrid Jaboticaba   
Mangifera indica                         Pickering Seedling   Mango   
Mangifera indica                         Angie Seedling   Mango   
Eugenia brasiliensis                       Grumichama Seedlings
Psidium guajava                         Common Guava (Waiakea Guava Seedlings)
Citus junos                                    Yuzu Seedlings

« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 03:57:11 PM by coyote »

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2019, 01:04:36 PM »
Failures:

-Anonna Fruit: I've tried my hand at growing a number of anonna fruit from seed from cherimoyas to sugar apples to atemoyas along with a few others. I have struggled to get them past the seedling stage when they get stuck in the helmet head stage (sprouted but with the hard seed coating still attached) and seem unable to force the seed coating off. Not sure if this is an issue with old seed or my growing conditions, but I've had this issue time and time again.  The second issue and the nail in the coffin for me is that besides summer the few plants I've managed to get past this stage (a cherimoya and an atemoya) have really struggled.  They've put on a little growth during the summer and then died that winter or next spring, I feel like I haven't been able to give them the conditions they want.  I'm open to any suggestions.

-Starfuit seedlings: They seemed to either get sun burnt or to not be getting enough light and eventually died

-Banana passionfruit: While it grew very well on my porch in the summer it always suffered in the winter where it seemed like it was either getting too cold or not enough light and was constantly plagued by spider mites who ignored pretty much every other plant except my plumeria...decided to give it a chance in the garden where the rabbits promptly ate it to a stub 

-The numerous things I've failed to sprout from seed (bananas, star apples, star fruit relatives, a number of passiflora)

Partial Failures:

-High sun low moisture plants: While I've technically kept my dragon fruit plants and baobab alive they've struggled outdoors where they are getting too much rain and indoors where they are not getting enough light

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2019, 01:06:54 PM »
brian: Nice to hear you're having success with citrus...even with supplemental light they really seem to suffer for me in the winter

daintree: I'm also interested in some of these spectacular failures...I agree from the general sentiment that you learn more from failure than you do from success
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 03:31:52 PM by coyote »

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2019, 01:33:37 PM »
My dragon fruit cactus is in my greenhouse where it is extremely high humidity and has been doing fine. 

I have started two batches of cherimoya seedlings, simply using seeds from a grocery store fruit.  Of the first batch I started a year or so ago only one seedling is still alive but it is growing slowly but steadily.  I just started another batch of seeds and they don't seem to have any issues with seed coat, I have a ton of seedlings now.  I also have a grafted El Bumpo planted in-ground in my greenhouse that is growing very well.

For citrus, my trees were constantly being set back by cottony cushion scale, plus I would occasionally forget to water containers or find that they soil had gone to muck and they drowned.  So I have some container citrus that are six years old but only a little bigger than they were when I bought them because of repeated setbacks.  However, as soon as I eradicated the scale (using systemic insecticide) they started doing great, and the ones I planted in-ground in my greenhouse have TRIPLED in size in one year.  I set up drip irrigation on a timer so I don't have to water manually.

All of my container trees are outdoors during the warm months, and in heated greenhouse in winter.  I've just started experimenting with growing small seedlings in my basement under grow lights.  So far they grow about the same as the ones in in the greenhouse.

What I've learned so far is:
- aggressively fight scale
- automatic watering is great
- free-draining soil is incredibly important, peat is bad
- rootmaker pots really work as advertised, but they must be thoroughly saturated when watering to avoid permanent dry areas



How is the Peruvian Apple Cactus fruit?  I had never heard of it, looks like dragon fruit without the flair
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 01:44:37 PM by brian »

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2019, 02:10:13 PM »
hmm maybe it is an issue with my seeds being too old as all the seeds I've tried to grow have come second hand and may have sat around for a while...the next time I can get a hold of good anonna fruit I'll have to try again

yea I've had to learn which plants need better draining soil the hard way

as for Peruvian Apple Cactus fruit I haven't had it yet but I've heard good things...I would guess mine is about 3 years away from fruiting

Kevin Jones

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2019, 02:55:05 PM »
I wish my name was Brain.
Interesting thread.

kj


Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2019, 03:26:07 PM »
Sorry this is so long.  I started looking at my plant list and said "Holy cr@p!"
Here is what I have now, and more or less, they are all doing great.  And these are the ďadultĒ trees unless indicated, 2-8 years old, in 15-25 gallon pots.  Some struggle a bit in the winter with the shorter days.  I do have supplemental lighting, but it probably isnít enough for some of them.
I donít move them in and out, since I had a horrible time with pests getting into the greenhouse, the 20 gallon pots are so flippiní heavy, the squirrels ravaged everything, and when they go out, there is not much shade for them, and at almost 3,000 ft and not a cloud all summer, many just curled up and died.
Of all the trees, the ones that seem to flourish the best are the annonas, eugenias, and solanums. My greenhouse is about a third to half shade.

Aleurites moluccanus   Kukui / Candlenut
Ananas nanas             Pineapple, dwarf
Annona musicata    Soursop
Annona reticulata   Custard Apple
Artocarpus heterophyllus   Jackfruit (seedling. About 5th try. CANNOT keep these things alive!)
Bixa orellana           Annatto
Caparis spinosa var. inermis   Caper
Casimiroa edulis           Sapote, white
Chrysophyllum cainito   Caimito
Cinnamomun zeylanicum   Cinnamon
Citrus    8 different varieties
Clausena excavata   Pink wampee  (seedlings, doing well)
Cnidoscolus aconitifolius   Chaya, spineless
Coffea arabica         Coffee
Cola acuminata           Monkey cola
Curcuma longa           Turmeric
Cymbopogon citratus   Lemon grass
Dacryodes Edulis   Bush Butter / Plum / Safou
Eugenia brasiliensis   Grumichama
Eugenia neonitida   Pitangatuba
Eugenia uniflora           Pitanga
Ficus carica           Fig, Celeste
Glycosmis pentaphylla   Gin berry
Gynura procumbens   Longevity spinach
Hylocereus undata   Dragonfruit, red
Mangifera indica    Mango, small yellow
Microcitrus australasica   Finger lime and red lime
Morinda citrifolia     Noni
Moringa oleifera             Drumstick tree
Musa acuminata             3 dessert banana varieties
Opuntia ficus-indica   Tuna
Pachira aquatica            Malabar chestnut
Pentadesma butyracea   Butter tree
Persea americana   Avocado, Fantastic (dying)
Plinia cauliflora          Jaboticaba
Plinia edulis          Cambuca
Plukenetia conophora   Nigerian walnut
Pouteria campechiana   Eggfruit
Prostanthera rotundifolia   Australian mint bush
Psidium guajava           Guava, Mexican red
Psidium striatulum   Guava, narrow leaf
Rollina deliciosa            Biriba
Saccharum officinarum    Sugar cane
Sclerocarya birrea   Marula
Solanum betaceum   Tamarillo
Solanum quitoense   Lulo
Solanum sessiliflorum    Cocona
Spondias dulcis            Cas mango (planted from seed in March 2019, blooming like crazy!)
Strychnos pungens   Monkey orange
Synsepalum dulcificum   Ledidi
Syzygium jambos   Rose apple
Talinum triangulare   Waterleaf
Tamarindis indica   Tamarind
Theobroma cacao   Chocolate, criollo
Theobroma cacao   Chocolate, forastero
Theobroma cacao   Chocolate, trinitario
Vanilla planifolia           Orchid, vanilla
Vernonia amydalina   Bitterleaf

There are several trees that did ok for a while (1-2 years), then just faded away, or failed to thrive.  I donít really know what happened, so canít provide any guidance. Most of them I have tried and failed more than once.  I try three times, and if I still canít get one to thrive, I throw in the towel.  Usually I would try from seed, and also an older purchased plant. Some of them are supposed to be ridiculously easy to grow, and yet I still have not had success.  Makes me think it is a lighting problem, since that is the one thing I canít increase easily.

Allspice
Carob
Lychee
Jackfruit
Macadamia
Papaya
Mango
Mangosteen
Tea
Carob
Avocado (the one listed above is probably on its way outÖ)


Some plants I got rid of because they were rampant, or had aggressive vertical growth habits and threatened to escape out of the top of the greenhouse.

Ice cream bean
Cherimoya
Njangsa


That's about all for now!  Traveling to the tropics in January, so who knows what I'll drag home this time!

Cheers!
Carolyn

coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2019, 03:54:32 PM »
Wow Carolyn...Holy crap indeed! Your list is very impressive and with plenty of things I didn't expect to see. I especially wasn't expecting all those tropical nut trees and I had to look up Njangsa. White Sapote, Cambuca and some species of Theobroma are on my list of things to try soon. You can also add Papaya and the more uncommon members of the Solanaceae family to the list of things of failed to grow despite trying.

oh and nice catch kevin :) I've edited my mistake


coyote

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2019, 04:09:55 PM »
Butter Tree and Monkey Orange are new to me too, any reason you have a more African species than the average grower?

Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2019, 05:15:41 PM »
Ah yes, rare African trees, my accidental specialty...
My wonderful daughter-in-law is from Cameroon!
She tells me stories about the trees she grew up with, and I started hunting them down.
Now, I do a lot of business with Forest House Cameroon.
The grandkids go bonkers when they get to eat fresh fruit, and their mommy says "I ate that as a child in Africa".
The disadvantage is that she can't help me at all with cultivation tips - where she is from, they basically harvest fruit as bush food, or just throw some seeds down and let nature take its course.
I have had a devil of a time sorting out pollination on a lot of these! Trial and error and error and error...

By the way, if anyone wants some 2-3 ft tall cacao seedlings in the spring, I will be selling some of mine, cheap! All three varieties.
Of course, you'll need to pollinate with a jeweler's loupe and tweezers, but its worth it!
Will also have some Spondias dulcis seedlings.  Just can't ship in the cold weather.

Cheers from frozen Idaho,
Carolyn

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2019, 05:17:36 PM »
You'll have to post some pictures of your greenhouse.   

Cherimoya got too big?  Are they known for this?  I know ice cream bean is supposed to get huge, and I don't recognize the third one.

I tried fresh cocoa nibs twice and didn't much like them, despite liking really dark chocolate.  I think they really benefit from processing into chocolate.


Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2019, 05:38:50 PM »
Yeah, the Cherimoya (from seeds I brought back from Peru, which may have been the problem...) just shot straight up, and every time I pruned it, the suckers went straight up really fast.  i tried weighting the branches, like I did successfully with the soursop and custard apple (which are blooming right now...), but it just would NOT stay down at a logical height.

Same with the ice cream bean. Very upright in growth.  The Njangsa I really hated to let go, but in nature it is a HUGE tree.  Sometimes you can train them down, and sometimes a giant tree is just going to be a giant tree.

I have been really happy with the "trainability" of a lot of them. I have some ebony trees going right now (they are not on the list since they don't make fruit...) and am going to grow them to ceiling height then cut them down so my hubby can carve walking sticks out of them!

And yes, I will post up some pics of my greenhouse!  Just put new bark on the floor, so it looks all neat and tidy for a change.

Carolyn

SeaWalnut

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2019, 06:06:54 PM »
Yeah, the Cherimoya (from seeds I brought back from Peru, which may have been the problem...) just shot straight up, and every time I pruned it, the suckers went straight up really fast.  i tried weighting the branches, like I did successfully with the soursop and custard apple (which are blooming right now...), but it just would NOT stay down at a logical height.

Same with the ice cream bean. Very upright in growth.  The Njangsa I really hated to let go, but in nature it is a HUGE tree.  Sometimes you can train them down, and sometimes a giant tree is just going to be a giant tree.

I have been really happy with the "trainability" of a lot of them. I have some ebony trees going right now (they are not on the list since they don't make fruit...) and am going to grow them to ceiling height then cut them down so my hubby can carve walking sticks out of them!

And yes, I will post up some pics of my greenhouse!  Just put new bark on the floor, so it looks all neat and tidy for a change.

Carolyn
What type of ebony trees you have?
I grow african black wood ,Dalbergia Melanoxyllon wich its not an ebony( a persimmon) but it is the real deal that egyptians called ebenum and the pharaoh sceptrum was made of.
If you are into precious wood then there is one that also makes fruits ,the pink ivory tree from Rhamnaceae.
Also there are somme nice fruit trees that are ebonys and the fruit its good and unknown outside of Africa.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 06:11:28 PM by SeaWalnut »

Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2019, 06:21:30 PM »
Here are a few pics of my greenhouse.  It is hard to get good shots because everything is just jammed in there, but I did my best!
If anybody is ever in the area, please stop by!!


The exterior. You can't see the length, but it is 40 ft long by 20 ft wide.  My hubby built the deck this summer! It attaches to the bar (pizza oven is out of sight on the right...).


From the porch, you enter the orangerie through the sliding glass door.






This is where we have a glass of wine in the evenings!


From the orangerie, you enter the tropical house.  The main furnace is on the back wall.






I tried to get a shot of the custard apple and sour sop.


You can see my watering pond, and the "bird nesting tree" that my sister and I built out of concrete. Scout is perched outside the top nest bit, keeping an eye on "his girl".


Laila the cat has discovered that the greenhouse is full of "edibles"! She watches the quail for hours!


Hei-hei, the little brat! With his "help", I get half as much done in twice the time!

Cheers,
Carolyn

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2019, 06:26:59 PM »
That looks really nice, thanks for sharing.

I have to ask about the parrotts, are they free roaming in the greenhouse or caged normally?  I have always wanted to get a pair of small parrots and let them live free in my greenhouse, but I read they are highly destructive and chewers.  I am worried they will both destroy all my fruit and chew through the greenhouse wall and escape.   I was also thinking about getting a quail as they are less problematic

And what kind of bird is that?  I don't recognize it with the pink color. 
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 06:29:14 PM by brian »

Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2019, 09:04:34 PM »
Both the pink and brown birds are Bourkes Grasskeets. Larger than budgies and smaller than cockteils, and distantly related to both.
They live free out there, along woth the Chinese painted quail. The Bourkes are gentle and fairly non-destructive, although they love seedlings. They are seed eaters, but do like sprouts.
My seed starting all happens in the orangerie, and they can't get in there because of the screen door.
They dont chee on the polycarbonate at all.
The quail have totally eliminated all the creepy crawlies out there! Watching one find a centipede and run around with it while the other chase him, ignoring the other centipedes, is just hilarious!

Carolyn

brian

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2019, 09:28:56 PM »
Thanks, I will have to look into that. 

I have some toads and a treefrog that I assume take care of larger bugs, and a pitcher plant for small flies.

Daintree

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2019, 09:39:17 PM »

What type of ebony trees you have?
I grow african black wood ,Dalbergia Melanoxyllon wich its not an ebony( a persimmon) but it is the real deal that egyptians called ebenum and the pharaoh sceptrum was made of.
If you are into precious wood then there is one that also makes fruits ,the pink ivory tree from Rhamnaceae.
Also there are somme nice fruit trees that are ebonys and the fruit its good and unknown outside of Africa.

Thanks! I will look into the pink ivory tree - sounds interesting! Hopefully it can be trained to a smaller size...
The ebony that I have right now is Gabon ebony, Disopyros crassiflora.

Cheers,
Carolyn

W.

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Re: Growing Tropicals and Sub-Tropicals in the Northern US (Wisconsin)
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2019, 11:33:51 PM »
I am not as far north as all of you (north Alabama, zone 7b, near the edge of 7a) but still in an area where nothing tropical or subtropical can live outside. I am definitely inspired to start building a greenhouse as soon as possible, my plants are either scattered around in front of windows or in a spare "plant room." I am pretty new to growing tropical and subtropical fruiting plants, just two and a half years of experience, but have built up a fairly big plant collection of 46 types of plants, mostly from seeds bought online or saved from fruit.

I have learned a few things which might be of interest, particularly because while I may have over 40 types of fruiting plants, I have unsuccessfully tried to grow or germinate another 15 types.

Citrus, usually, make excellent container plants. I grow all of my citrus from seeds on their own roots, which I am aware is quite unconventional, but I get many strong seedlings with few root problems. The exception to that is the Meyer Lemon. That variety, when grown on its own roots is very, very sensitive to moisture. It goes from drowning to wilted almost instantly, even though it is in the same soil as the rest of my citrus. I have twelve other types of citrus, but Meyer Lemons are the only ones that I have to constantly worry about overwatering even when potted in clay instead of plastic.

Use clay pots. Clay pots are heavy, can be a little expensive if bought new (I get mine from yard and estate sales), will break if abused, and cannot (to my knowledge) be purchased in very large sizes. But, they are excellent for preventing damage from overwatering and are worth it for that reason, in my opinion. I can see the difference in the citrus and Annonas I have in clay pots versus the ones in plastic pots. The ones in clay are much healthier.

You will have spider mites. Every winter I have an infestation of spider mites which washes over my plants like a tidal wave. I have to take everything outside on a warm day (or into the shower when it is too cold) and spray with neem oil at least once every winter. Carambolas are a particular pain to remove spider mites from.

Eugenias and Jaboticabas seem to like being indoor container plants. As I type this, my larger Grimal Jaboticaba and my Sundrops (Eugenia victoriana) are putting out flushes of new growth, inside, in December. They are not in my more humid plant room, either.

Conversely, no types of Sapindaceae seem to like being indoor container plants. Even when covered and provided with a more humid climate, it never seems to be enough. I have tried growing lychees, rambutans, and spanish limes, and while I have managed to keep some of them alive, that is all I seem to be able to do. They go outside in the summer and grow happily and healthy but come inside in the winter and struggle. I think the key to those plants is to have a very bright, very warm, and very humid greenhouse.

Those are a few things I have picked up over the past couple of years from growing tropical and subtropical fruit plants where I am not supposed to grow them.

 

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