Did you ever wonder, when you took the seeds from fruit or peeled a vegetable in your kitchen if the discarded material would grow if you planted it? Many of these seeds and discarded plant parts will indeed grow in your home and produce an attractive houseplant.
It can be very educational for children to watch this development take place on a sunny windowsill, and the best part is that it’s free. If you have a room with lots of sunlight, almost any fruit or vegetable seed will grow with proper care. There are, however, some varieties that perform better than others in average household conditions.
Avocado pits easily sprout and produce attractive miniature trees. Clean the fruit from the pit, press toothpicks into it to hold it in the top of a jar or glass. Fill the glass with water, and make sure the bottom inch or so of the pit remains under water. To encourage branches to form, when the stem is six inches tall, trim it down to three inches. Plant it in potting soil when new leaves form on the stem, and when it reaches twelve inches tall, trim it again to six. Avocado plants grown indoors rarely bear fruit, but they are attractive.
Carrot tops can be planted in potting soil to produce feathery foliage that resembles a fern. Cut off the top inch and remove the outer leaves, and plant it in potting soil. Keep it in a partially shaded spot, and an attractive clump of foliage should fill out in about a month. This plant won’t last long, but it will be an interesting addition to your display.
Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are also easy to sprout. Don’t let the seeds dry out. Cover them with a half inch of potting soil, place in a warm spot, and keep the soil moist. It may take a month for the seeds to sprout, so be patient. Citrus trees take many years to bear fruit, and most won’t in your house, but sometimes they will bloom and the fragrance is wonderful.
Date pits will grow into a five foot palm tree, if given proper care. Cover them with a half inch of potting soil, and keep them warm until they germinate. Dates take even longer than citrus to sprout, sometimes up to three months. Keep them cool in winter and re-pot every year.
Sweet Potatoes make a pretty vine that looks great on a kitchen windowsill. As with the avocado, find a jar or glass and insert toothpicks to hold the sweet potato in place, the pointed end of the sweet potato down. Make sure that the end stays covered with water. You will see results fairly soon, and within a few weeks the vine should begin to fill out.
Pineapples are bromeliads, some varieties of which can be quite expensive. Leave the top two inches of pineapple flesh attached, and let it sit out and dry for a few days before planting. Cover it to the bottom of the leaves with a sandy, well-drained mix of soil. Keep the soil moist and place the pot in a sunny spot, preferably with high humidity. After a few weeks, roots will develop and the top will begin to grow.
It will eventually produce a large plant, and it is possible to get the plant to bear fruit. To do this, you can try placing the plant in a bag with a ripe apple. The apple produces ethylene gas, which induces the pineapple to flower. It may take a couple of months for this to work, and of course, the apple should be replaced.
With very little time and effort, it is possible to produce attractive and fascinating houseplants from plant material we would usually throw away. If you love watching plants grow, I encourage you to try some of these varieties in your own home. For the small investment of a pot and soil, the returns are enormous.