Before your favorite fruit makes its way from the farm where it was grown to a Greenmarket or a bodega, it starts its life as a small seed. It’s easy to start your own indoor garden using fruit seeds. You don’t even need to go to a garden supply store! Just start saving the seeds found in the fruits you already have at home.
-Seeds from fruit (like apples, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, or limes)
- Dish of water
- Plant pot (you can use our activity DIY newspaper seedling pots!)
- Potting soil
1. Once you’ve gathered 8-10 fruit seeds for each variety you’d like to plant, fill a small dish with water and soak the seeds for a day or two. Soaking seeds before planting reduces the germination time (the time that the seed takes to sprout) so you can sprout plants faster.
2. Fill a plant pot with soil, leaving about ½ - 1 ” of space from the top of the pot.
3. Bury the seeds about ¼ “ deep in the soil, about 1” away from each other in the pot. If your pot is only a few inches wide, only plant a few seeds in that pot. *Tip* - Make sure you plant the same type of seed in each pot, and label the pot with the variety of the seeds. That way, you’ll know what’s what.
4. Water in your seeds gently from above.
5. Over the next few weeks, watch your seeds carefully. Keep the plant pot in a sunny place, and gently water the seeds every day. In about two weeks, you'll see plants pop through the soil.
6. As the plants get bigger, you may want to separate them into bigger pots.
In the video above, I soaked a lemon seed in wet paper towels in a tupperware for about 2 weeks, until I saw it germinate: you can see the little sprout emerging from the seed husk! Then I planted it in nice, fresh potting soil.
Citrus trees are meant for tropical climates, and most likely won't produce fruit here in NYC (unless you keep them in a super warm, humid greenhouse year round and wait a few years), but even if they don't bear fruit, they can make wonderful house plants!
If you do want a citrus-producing plant for a NYC apartment, and you don't have a greenhouse, you'll have more luck with dwarf varieties of lemon and orange trees. Calamondin orange trees are a popular indoor dwarf variety. I've even seen tiny kumquats grown in a sunny Brooklyn window, so it's definitely possible!