Plant Your Fruit Seeds: How to Grow Unusual Houseplants for Free

By saving the seeds from the fruits you eat, you can grow unusual houseplants less expensively. Here are some tips for starting plants from avocado, citrus, coffee, date, fig, grape, guava, kiwi, peach, mango, and pomegranate seeds.

| November/December 1990

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    Surprisingly, for a plant we think of as belonging in deserts, growing a palm tree from a date seed takes plenty of water and a humid environment.
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    The fig is a bush or small tree; a wide variety of cultivars are grown for fruit.
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    Though a sizeable tree when grown naturally, pomegranates can be dwarfed by growing them in a small, shallow container and allowing the soil to dry out occasionally.
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    You may want to think twice about using peaches for houseplants: the leaves usually secrete a fluid attractive to ants and other insects.
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    The sweet potato is a rampant grower, and has a trailing habit.

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At our farmer's market, my friend had found among the offerings of a Lebanese fish seller a confection made from the fruit of the tamarind. Looking somewhat like large raisins rolled in crystallized sugar, they had a pleasant, tart taste, and each had a big, shiny, odd-shaped seed in the center. To my dismay, my friend was spitting the fruit seeds onto the sidewalk. My own seeds were going carefully into my pocket.

"What are you going to do with them?" my friend asked.

"Plant them."

He laughed. He is used to the somewhat odd habits of a seed scrounger. He knows me for one who is forever digging treasures out of the kitchen trash.

I don't know that this is such a strange idea. Why throw away those lovely fruit seeds when all that's needed to turn them into beautiful greenery is a little potting soil? An orange pit, for example, or one from a grapefruit or lemon, will make a small, pretty tree when grown in a pot, and a crushed orange leaf has one of the sweetest smells this side of a sprig of lilac. If you can get the tree to bloom, the flowers will perfume an entire house.

A few seeds dug out of a fig or a kiwi fruit produce interesting, fast-growing plants. A planted carrot-top on a windowsill instantly becomes a fernlike growth, surprisingly attractive for so humble a thing.

8/13/2013 12:36:57 PM

Another fun idea is to grow a pet TickleMe Plant from seeds and watch how the crazy tropical house plant moves and closes its leaves when you Tickle It!

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