Every aspiring locavore has her hangups. Foods native to far-away lands and warmer climes that you just can't pass up at the grocery store. I can't tell you how jealous I am of urban farmers in California, blessed with citrus trees and artichokes. Green with envy, I tell you.
With most of these plants, I'll have to wait years before I see any fruit, if ever. 'Til then, it's quite a challenge to keep them thriving. Well, if we're being honest, it's a challenge just to keep them alive, especially in the dark winter months. A lot of these plants are rather finicky, and since I'm notorious for killing even the "thrives on abuse" variety of houseplant, it's a miracle I haven't lost any of these exotic friends. But hey, I like a challenge.
The first year I had the lemon tree, it flowered profusely and produced two teeny tiny lemons. They were the most amazing thing I ever tasted. I had hoped to see some flowers on my meyer lemon tree again this winter. Instead, it's spent the last few months regrowing the leaves it lost when I brought it inside in the fall. It might have been transplant shock, or stress from the hasty transition inside.
My tea plant is looking great--don't let the browning leaves fool you. When I got it, it was a tiny stick with no branches. It's supposed to be a shrub, so I've been practicing my pruning skills and encouraging the plant to put out new branches. Here you can see new leaves unfurling where I cut it back. It seems to really love a good haircut.
And the dwarf banana, looking a little more dwarf than it should. This variety supposedly fruits when it's about three feet tall--we're looking at about a foot of growth right now. I almost killed this one several times this winter, until some research revealed that bananas actually prefer a sandy potting mix, the same that you would use for cactus. I had it in regular potting soil, and it became clear that I had been making a classic rookie mistake--over-watering. I re-potted the banana, rescuing it from certain death at the hands of root rot.
This crazy plant is a pitaya vine, or dragon fruit. It's a night-blooming orchid cactus--a vining cactus that grows on trees and produces the most amazing dinner plate sized blossoms at night. These plants grew all over the place in the Nicaraguan town I spent a summer in, and I have fond memories of seeing these flowers caught in my flashlight's beam. The fruit is equally incredible. Delicious pink alien looking things.
It took me almost 10 years to find a place selling the plants stateside--it turns out you can get them from Logee's, which is only a few hours from here. This plant has grown from about 1.5 feet tall to nearly 6 feet in the year that I've had it--talk about fast-growing! As you can see, I'm struggling to contain it. Supposedly, it will start to flower and produce fruit once the plant weighs about 10 pounds. I have no idea how I'm supposed to know how much it weighs...
Some people turn into crazy cat ladies as they get older. I aspire to be the crazy plant lady--surrounded by an ever-growing collection of bizarre tropical fruit plants. I'd say I'm well on my way. I just hope that by then I'll at least have figured out how to get them to fruit.