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Thread: Keeping Indoor Tropicals Through The Winter

  1. #1

    Default Keeping Indoor Tropicals Through The Winter

    Because of the very rainy dark summer in Western Alaska this year I was stuck with a small harvset of greenbeans, carrots, onions, and potatoes. My greenthumb is still in "growing mode". About a month ago my mother sent me up a variety of tropical plants from the lower 48. I now have two dwarf banana trees, one lemon tree, one lavendar tree, one pinapple bush, and one black pepper vine. Luckily our house was built with bright flourecent lights (the three feet ones that sit on the side of the wall- much like the kind a greenhouse would have). I have all of the plants placed undernieth the lights and have been in the habit of keeping the lights on from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. They seem to be doing well and regaining strength (and beginning to grow again) after the trip up. These are not the first tropicals I have kept in Alaska, but they are the first fruit bearing ones. I was just looking for absolutely any advice that could help me keep these plants alive through the dark winter while also giving them the proper care needed for them to fruit in the summer. Also I was just curious if anyone else in Alaska kept tropical fruit plants?
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at www.lonealaskangypsy.com and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

  2. #2

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    I tried it once, without much success. I got a lot of nice foliage but no fruit. (I didn't have fluorescent lights so I used an old SAD lamp.) The three things I learned from the experience were:
    1. My plants had different light needs, evolved under different canopies, so read up separately on each one.
    2. Lighting from only one source or direction made some plants grow too tall instead of branching out.
    3. Check your fluorescent's spectrum on the manufacturer's website, make sure your light is full-spectrum.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-spectrum_light
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grow_light
    Good luck and may your plants bear fruit!

  3. #3

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    Thank you so much Seraphina. I never thought to research canopy information. I have attempted to keep the plants switching directions (so they won't so much grow strictly one way to get light). I also believe I do have a full-spectrum light, which hopefully will help with the growth. Thanks for your imput! It definately has helped.
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at www.lonealaskangypsy.com and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

  4. #4
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    Gypsy,

    Full spectrum is not needed, I grow cavendish bananna's a lemon, dwarf orange, several kiwi and coffee under my normal lights in the winter. I cut the water back a little but not to much and let the plants go kinda dormant for the winter, pinching back any new growth. The bananna's produce new leaves just about as fast as the oldest ones die off this is normal. Late march I add Jobes fruit and citrus biozome fertilizer. Its a little spendy as far as fertilizer but its next to impossible to burn your plant if you put on too much and a little goes a long way. I even use it on my apple tree's outside.

    It will take several years after the shock of a move like that to get fruit to set again so be patient and keep with it.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdrash View Post
    Full spectrum is not needed, I grow cavendish bananna's a lemon, dwarf orange, several kiwi and coffee under my normal lights in the winter.
    Spectrum is important but some normal bulbs do give a fairly full spectrum anyway. What kind of normal lights do you use? Do you use extra lights near the plants or adjust anything else?

    It will take several years after the shock of a move like that to get fruit to set again so be patient and keep with it.
    I wish I'd thought of that back then, but I gave up after a year and a half partially to save electricity. How many years did you end up having to wait after transport for fruit to set again?

  6. #6
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    Full spectrum bulbs will not really give you much of an edge over normal bulbs unless your putting 500 watts or more to each plant and have it within 24". Different plants respond better or worse to different bands of spectrum but you don't get enough of any one color from a full spectrum to really make it worth while especially if your in an area like western alaska where its not real easy to get your hands on them. The real solution for would be running M Halides or S Halides but having 600 to a 1000 bucks wrapped up in lights for house plants is a bit much. Although I do run MH's for pumkin starts in march.

    The citrus set fruit some years and other years not I think its a combination of light as well as temps. The lemon has been around since 1979. Took four years for the bananna to make pups and then another to get fruit. The Kiwi make fruit at 2 years and have been every year since.

    A single CFL in a 12 inch reflector for each plant does not break the bank or the electric bill.

  7. #7

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    I have a lemon tree here in MN that I planted as a seed, 7 years later it is 6' tall and yet to bloom. Any thoughts? I winter it next to a west window and water it, it stays green and lush all winter. After frost it goes outdoors for the summer. Any thoughts on how to force a bloom?

  8. #8
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    Lemons from seed will not be a dwarf variant so it should take about ten years to regognize fruit, but at seven years try this make sure you have good drainage enough that you can water every three days without the soil staying soggy just a little damp, try to get at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and put a 40 flourescent shop over it for a plant that size and give it a couple extra hours a day shoot for 8 total, June and August feed an acidic fertilizer in the 20-10-10 range or a citrus specific blend they are out there but you may have to mail order if not available local. Humidity is real important so a pebble trail with water below it sphagnum moss in the pot misted once a day and mist the foliage at the same time.



    This is the best I got for ideal conditions.

  9. #9
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    sorry about spelling and grammar typed this out on the phone and the screen is tiny

  10. #10

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    Thanks! I will see if I can urge some lemons!

  11. #11

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    Spammers just popped this old thread up and I thought it might be useful to some of you:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...7-Indoor-Trees
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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