Janet Loughrey is a horticulture photographer, writer and master gardener based in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been featured in Garden Design, Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens as well as in numerous books. LoughreyPhoto.com
Bottom Line: Wait! Don’t throw out that orange seed!
Remember third grade, when your teacher suspended an avocado pit with toothpicks in a jar and put it on a windowsill? It’s still a great way to create a beautiful houseplant. But that’s just the beginning. Here are three even more beautiful houseplants you can grow from parts of fruits and vegetables that you would otherwise throw out…
Pineapples. Pineapples are easy to grow and, with patience, produce fruit. Here’s how: Twist off the leafy crown and peel off a few rows of leaves at the base to expose about one inch of stem. Let the crown dry for a day or two, then plant in an eight-inch-diameter pot filled with potting soil and place in a sunny location.
Pineapple plants like hot temps (65°F to 85°F) and moist soil. As the plant grows, repot it to roomier pots. To encourage fruiting: After about a year, cover the pot and plant and an apple with a large plastic bag (the apple gives off ethylene gas, which hastens blossoming). Move the bagged plant out of the sun for about a week, then remove the bag and apple and put the pot back in a sunny spot. With luck, you’ll see a baby pineapple in a few months.
Gingerroot. Gingerroot creates an exotic-looking houseplant with tall, grassy stems and plenty of new roots (technically, rhizomes). Tip: Some supermarket ginger may be treated to prevent sprouting, so use organic ginger. Here’s how: Snap a piece of ginger, using the normal joint lines, into several pieces about two-inches square each, and push each piece about an inch deep into an eight-inch-diameter or larger pot filled loosely with potting soil. Water and place in a warm, sunny location. Keep moist. Sprouts will emerge in two to four weeks and will grow two feet or more in a few months. Cuttings are great to flavor soups! Harvest gingerroot in eight months to a year by pulling up the stalks.
Citrus fruits. Lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus seeds all will produce lovely houseplants, although they may not fruit. Here’s how: Harvest seeds from fresh fruit. Carefully snip the pointy tip of the seed casing with a sharp knife or small sewing scissors, and peel back to remove the seed within. Place seeds on a dampened paper towel, fold that in half, seal in a zipper bag and place in a dark, warm corner. If the towel starts to look dry, spritz it with water to keep it damp. Roots should emerge in about a week. Plant rooted seeds in damp potting soil, and move to a bright windowsill. Leaves will start to grow in a week or two.