Ask a Question forum: Any tips for tropical plants in non-tropical climates?

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Netherlands / Temperate Mariti
Elmigo
Dec 19, 2018 3:25 AM CST
The past years really got me fascinated by tropical fruits and plants from different zones than where I live. What are your best tips on growing (sub)tropical and non-original edibles in a temperate maritime climate area? What species do best in certain areas? I'd love something challenging! Plants that grow here naturally are not too much of a challenge as most of them will grow and make fruits, even without (much) care.

Last year I started growing two little mango seedlings from mangos bought in the store. They do pretty good and this is their first winter, so I placed them indoors. I might slowly get them used to the weather conditions by placing them outdoors in spring and summer, when temperatures allow it. Have you tried growing something that is unusual to grow in your zone?
[Last edited by Elmigo - Dec 23, 2018 4:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Dec 19, 2018 5:54 AM CST
You sound like your only problem is temperature. How do you reproduce tropical sunshine???? Many tropical fruit producers need the intense sun to not only produce the fruit but to have it taste good!!
There is no good substitute for good old Mr. Sun.
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Dec 19, 2018 10:53 AM CST
Welcome!

First, do some research on what tropical fruits will grow well in a container and how big that container would have to be. Second, start adding artificial lighting, heat and humidity.

Remember, though, in your efforts to keep you trees small enough to fit in the living room, you may sacrifice fruit. Also, the trees will have to reach some maturity: Mangos 7-8 years from seed and Avocados 10 years. Then, there's no guarantee you will get them to produce or if the quality of the fruit will be what you hoped for.

Have fun!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 19, 2018 11:01 AM CST
Mango trees can reach over 100 feet in the wild. But they have nifty varieties called patio or lanai mangos that stay small and produce the smaller 'champagne' fruit. I had one, I got mangoes on it every year out by the pool, but the darn squirrels always ate them before they could ripen.
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA due to Federal Agriculture Laws
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 19, 2018 11:27 AM CST
Hello Elmigo, to be honest, I would not choose to grow mango trees in your area. Mango trees are quite common backyard trees in my homeland, but it is a very tropical environment. It would be very hard to mimic the direct sun/light requirements it needs to produce fruits. Sustaining temperatures in the 80F range (26C) ++ and no temps below 70F (21C) plus the high humidity it needs will be very tough.

Sure you can try to grow them, but be prepared, it will not bear fruits. So if your objective is just to grow the mango tree just for the purpose of having a tree, you can certainly try, but do not expect any fruits.

With any tropical plant I have, my lowest cold threshold for them is no temps below 50F (10C). Seasonal changes to watering is needed, so it is vital to make their media well draining too. Augmenting grow areas with grow lights helps. We have varying growing zones, my area has harsher sun and dry conditions for 6 months, so it is a challenge to grow some tropicals, have to protect them indoors or grow them in shade/filtered areas outdoors with frequent watering to help them survive our long dry periods. Then got to bring them indoors during winter to protect them from the cold. Thankfully our winters are milder, no snow here.

So in your area, your foremost consideration is keeping your tropicals in a warm temperature and provide as much light during the long dreary winter months indoors, and adjusting your watering regimen so the plants do not end up getting too overwatered during the cold months.
[Last edited by tarev - Dec 19, 2018 11:28 AM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Dec 19, 2018 11:40 AM CST
Out of curiosity, why try to grow tropicals in a non-tropical environment? Seems counter-productive and difficult. I'd stick with whatever your own natives are, they will look much more natural and thrive. Just my two cents. E.g., I think palm trees or bananas in the Pacific NW look rather silly...
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Dec 19, 2018 12:47 PM CST
Don't pick on Elmigo! We are all growing tropical plants in environments where outdoors would be hostile. Elmigo just decided to grow something a little more exotic. What's the difference between a potted mango tree and a potted Ficus?

I have grown plants from fruits and vegetables I bought at the market: Avocados, papayas, grapefruit trees... and mangos. Once, a coconut. It froze to death in the house! Hilarious!

Elmigo asked serious questions and has only gotten discouraging answers.

PS: I missed the 'maritime' - you probably have humidity covered. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 19, 2018 12:51 PM CST
We all want to grow what we shouldn't! That is the challenge of growing.The Netherlands has so many beautiful bulbs and flowers, those will not grow here where I live. They will in the pot you get them in but plant them out and boom they rot and never come back up again.

Its natural to covet that which is non-native to your area LOL
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA due to Federal Agriculture Laws
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Dec 19, 2018 2:02 PM CST
I believe you all missed my first phrase, 'Out of curiosity...' I am not bashing anyone, just wondering what the attraction might be to fight your own climate. Still wondering.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Ursula
Dec 19, 2018 2:18 PM CST
Deb, that's why some of us keep greenhouses..... Smiling That is after every sunny window sill is overflowing with tropical plants of all sorts. It is a pleasure to walk inside and have Orchids blooming year around. (and C&S and whatever...) What's not to like!
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid hobbyist/Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Dahlias Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
Dec 19, 2018 2:26 PM CST
No I got it Bonehead and I thought the same thing.
I am guilty myself! I am growing what appears to be tropical plants, orchids, in a non tropical climate. However a great deal of what I am growing are orchids that like 55 to 85 degrees, good humidity and have been in cultivation in both England, Europe and the United States for upwards of 130 years. All of my "tropical" orchids like a level of sun that I know I can provide.
I am not trying to grow terete leaved Vandas which require light levels that I could not sustain here in Michigan. I am not trying to grow Telipogons and other Andean Cloud Forest orchids that can not exist without 90% humidity or temperatures over 52 degrees. These are out of my realm of possibility.
Most of us think that citrus and other plants are out of the realm of possibility in the Netherlands. That's all we are saying.
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid hobbyist/Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Dahlias Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Dec 19, 2018 2:34 PM CST
I knew a person in New York City years ago who bought deli or supermarket meat cases in order to try and grow Andean Orchids. They installed fans, a humidity system and spend thousands of dollars trying to meet their demands. And, they met with some success.
But not everyone wants to bring the "Andean Cloud Forest" into what was once their living room. But no one is saying that some body shouldn't try if they want to.

As a footnote let me add that the two people I am thinking of had years of orchid growing experience behind them.
But what is the old expression? Where there is a will, there's a way!!!
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
[Last edited by BigBill - Dec 19, 2018 2:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Ursula
Dec 19, 2018 3:16 PM CST
Heh, years ago I was dreaming about such a deli case! Whistling But, clear thinking did prevail!
Yes, there are many plants we simply can't provide the proper conditions for them, no matter how hard we try and those are better left to others or nature.
Or where there is a will, there are citrus growing in terraces behind glass panels at Sanssouci, Potsdam , built in 1745.
Here is a pic from Michelin
Thumb of 2018-12-19/Ursula/903d75
and there is the portable greenhouse at Castle Pillnitz/Elbe for the famous Camellia. This contraption is on tracks.
https://www.alamy.com/stock-ph...
Ireland (Zone 9a)
Region: Europe
Aphria
Dec 19, 2018 3:43 PM CST
This place might interest you...it sounds amazing. Located off the South West coast of England it shouldn't be able to sustain tropical plants. The tiny island is warmed by the Gulf Stream and is thriving with tropical plants!
https://www.tresco.co.uk/enjoy...
[Last edited by Aphria - Dec 19, 2018 3:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Dec 19, 2018 3:43 PM CST
Interesting photos and discussion. @Elmigo, I hope you are tracking this and picking up the tips and tricks you are looking for to grow tropical plants in a non-tropical climate. I remain intrigued at the 'why' -- but not in any way critical. I find myself at the polar opposite in my plant interests. My focus is to try to integrate as many native plants as I can into my garden and home, which is not as simple as one might think. Greenhouse...never wanted one. Replicating a cloud forest, what a concept! An orange grove behind glass, who knew? Good luck to everyone pushing their personal envelopes.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Netherlands / Temperate Mariti
Elmigo
Dec 19, 2018 6:51 PM CST
Thank you all for the replies! I can't answer to every single one of them but I'm reading it all.

One of the main reasons I want to try tropical fruits is because there have been lots of cases where plants have been cultivated for to survive in a different climate. Could it be that some tropical plants can get used to the climate and over time -lots of time- become somewhat resistant? I mean if a tropical plant grows in harsh conditions and produces children (new seeds), will those children be a little more resistant to the harsh conditions? Mango might not be a good tropical fruit to try this with since it takes 8 years at minimum to even have a chance at producing fruit. So what sorts of tropical fruits take less time, maybe 3 years or less, and are worth trying?
[Last edited by Elmigo - Dec 19, 2018 6:53 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1874632 (16)
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Greenhouse
Ponds Keeper of Koi Forum moderator Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Adeniums Spiders!
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Ursula
Dec 19, 2018 6:57 PM CST
You might like to read up on Trofim Lysenko. Smiling
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 19, 2018 8:17 PM CST
Elmigo I can't honest think of any. How cold does it get there? Does it freeze?
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA due to Federal Agriculture Laws
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 19, 2018 10:16 PM CST
Elmigo said:I mean if a tropical plant grows in harsh conditions and produces children (new seeds), will those children be a little more resistant to the harsh conditions?


The fallacy in your thinking is that the first generation must survive to fruithood. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Dec 19, 2018 10:29 PM CST
Having been called out myself, I must note that Daisy's 'The fallacy of your thinking...' -- seems a bit presumptuous. (All in good spirit) I think it is always good to preface your opinion with a qualifier. Off topic, my apologies.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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