The following is a guest blog post by Richard Clayton. His website, My Greenery Life, discusses everything about lawn care, DIY gardening and critter control topics.

 

If you have a short summer growing season or no place to garden outdoors, you can still grow tomatoes as houseplants. It’s easier than you might think to harvest tasty tomatoes indoors. 

 

Read on to find out how.

 

tomato-plant-1629800-638x423

(Free Images.com/Oncle Bob_) 

1. Grow the best varieties of indoor tomatoes

Avoid buying just any tomato for indoor growing. Grow the wrong tomato indoors, and you aren’t likely to have much success.

 

In my experience, upright and small varieties are the best choices. Good tomato varieties for growing indoors are:

If you want to grow tomatoes in hanging baskets indoors, choose these cultivars:

 

2. Plant tomato seeds indoors

 

If you’re unable to buy the best tomatoes as plants for indoor growing, plant from seed.

 

To have the best luck with this, try the following steps:

 

1. Fill a seed starting tray with moistened, light-weight seed-starting mix.

2. Place one tomato seed in each cell.

3. Cover the tomato seed with a 1/8th-inch layer of additional seed-starting mix.

4. Spray the tray with a thin mist of water until seed-stating mix is wet.

5. Cover the seeds with plastic wrap, or use a seed-starting tray with lid.

6. Keep the soil and seedlings moist.

7. Place in a warm location while seeds germinate, such as on top of the refrigerator.

8. Once plants appear, place the seedlings under artificial lights or in an eastern or southern window.

9. When the seedlings get two sets of true leaves and are at least two inches high, transplant into a larger pot.

10. For a continuous supply of tomatoes, plant seeds monthly.

  

Tomato Seedlings-resized

(Healthy Houseplants.com)

 

3. Hand-pollinate Indoor Grown Tomatoes

Indoor grown tomatoes don’t have the benefit of pollination from bees and other insects. For that reason, you must hand-pollinate. Stick a Q-tip into each flower when in bloom, continuing until you've hit every one. This will spread the pollen around and lead to tomatoes.

 

4. Fertilize Indoor Grown Tomatoes Regularly 

Tomatoes, particularly indoor tomatoes, need a steady supply of nutrients. Fertilizing is especially important in containerized tomatoes. Nutrients tend to run out the bottom of the pot when you water.

 

I recommend using on organic fertilizer, since you are growing edible crops. Organically grown indoor tomatoes also tend to be healthier plants, and the taste is incredible. 

 

5. Provide Adequate Light and Heat to Tomato Houseplants 

As a summer, heat-loving crop,  tomatoes require at least eight hours of light each day and sufficient warmth. 

 

For lighting, place the plants under full-spectrum lights for 12 hours a day. If you have access to eastern or southern unobstructed windows, put the plants in front of the windows for 6 to 8 hours of sun a day. For the remaining hours, place the plants under artificial lighting. 

 

For heat, tomatoes grow best in 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 30 Celcius). The minimum temperature should be 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius).

 

During cold months of the year, grow the tomato seedlings and established plants on a heat mat

 

 

Plate of grape tomatoes-resized

(Healthy Houseplants.com)

 

6. Grow Tomatoes Indoors in Terra-cotta Pots

Grow tomatoes in terra-cotta pots, as they are porous and breathe. This will help ensure that the plants don’t become waterlogged, which can lead to fungal disease and root rot. Place pots on drainage dishes. Make sure to empty the dishes after watering. You don’t ever want the plant roots sitting in water.

 

7. Manage Pests on Indoor Tomato Plants 

Although tomato pests aren’t as common indoors as out, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye open for any intruders. Potential pests include mealybugs and whiteflies.

 

Manage indoor tomato pests by hand removing them or washing off with water. If you still have trouble with pests, spray with isopropy alcohol.

 

Prevent tomato diseases, such as fusarium wilt, by not overwatering. Water established plants when the soil has started to dry out. Also maintain good air circulation. If the air in your home is stuffy, run a fan on the tomato plants at least 6 hours a day.

 

Good luck with your indoor tomato garden! Leave a comment if you have a question or want to share a story about growing tomatoes as houseplants.

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If you talk to your houseplants like I do and family or friends overhear, they might be a little concerned. Not just about the fact that you’re talking to plants, but what you’re saying.

 

A typical conversation with my houseplants goes something like this:

 

“Hey there, little green guy. You ready to get all potted up? I know you’ll feel a lot better.”

 

[Me listening for a response].

 

“Great! Glad you’re so eager! That’ll make the process go much easier. Good thing we pre-hydrated you prior.”

 

[Me listening for a response].

 

“What’s that? You also want to do a little deadheading? Superb idea, little green guy!”

 

Like any hobby, indoor gardening has its own terminology. So the next time someone overhears you and looks alarmed, just give them this houseplant garden jargon “cheat sheet.”

 

Garden Jargon

 (FreeImages.com/Yamamoto Ortiz)

 

Amendment: Yes, it is a constitutional proceeding, but this term also refers to organic materials that you add to your potting soil to make it a super healthy place for your houseplants to set down roots. Such additions include worm compost, peat moss and pumice.

 

Bolt: You might feel like doing this when you’re chatty neighbor visits, but it also refers to what happens when you grow vegetables indoors and they stop producing. Instead of new foliage, the plants will create flower stalks. This is especially a problem with lettuce and herbs. The remaining foliage also turns bitter. 

 

Cross: In relationships, this is how you feel when your significant other leaves the toilet seat up in the middle of the night. When it comes to indoor gardening, this is what occurs when two parent houseplants with dissimilar parents cross and make a whole new super cool plant.

 

Cultivate: This term may sound a little “stuck up,” but with houseplants it simply means to dig in the potting soil in your containers to prepare the soil for planting.

 

Dead-head: No, we’re not talking wild concertsalthough that sounds really fun for you and your houseplants. Deadheading in your indoor garden means to remove flowers that have finished so that the plant initiates new blooms.

 

Garden Jargon-2

(FreeImages.comYamamoto Ortiz)

 

Drainage: This might come from your sinuses, but it also refers to the really important fact that houseplants generally need excellent drainage. Water should easily run through a pot and out the bottom when you hydrate your plants.

 

Established: This is what occurs when a houseplant you’ve repotted gets acclimated to its new pot. You’ll know the houseplant is established when it puts on new growth. At that point, you can begin fertilizing. Avoid feeding plants prior to them becoming established. 

 

Foliar feeding: No, this isn’t what you do when your kids need to eat more veggies. This refers to spraying a liquid fertilizer onto plant leaves. The foliage absorbs the nutrients more quickly this way than through the roots. It’s a great option for nutrient-starved houseplants.

 

Hydrated: This is when you can hear your houseplant sigh with relief as you water following a dry spell. On a well-hydrated plant, leaves are buoyant and full of moisture.

 

Leach: This isn’t the cousin who’s always borrowing money. Houseplant leaching refers to running water through the plant pot to rid the soil of unhealthy elements like salt and fertilizer build up. This is a really good idea when you bring a new plant home. Follow leaching with a good fertilizing.

 

Pinch back: Don’t get any nasty ideas. This term simply means to nip off shoots on plants to stimulate side branching and growth. Pinching creates a fuller, bushier plant. It’s a good idea to pinch back indoor grown herbs so they don’t bolt (see above for that definition!)

 

Garden Jargon-3

 (FreeImages.com/Miamiamia)

 

Potting up: This might sound like an activity that’s against the law in some states, but it actually refers to repotting your houseplantsAKA, changing their “digs.”

 

Set down roots: Yes, this is what happens when you settle down in a particular geographic area. A similar sort of thing happens when houseplant roots settle into healthy soil when you repot them.

 

Sucker: P.T. Barnum was so rightsuckers are born every minute, and sometimes it’s in your houseplant. Suckers are sprouts that come from the rootstock of plantsso below the grafted part of the plant. Remove suckers at their base as soon as you see them, because they suck energy from the plant. They’re common when you grow fruit trees indoors.

 

Transpiration: You know when you sweat? Well, houseplants transpire.

 

And there you have it. Your lingo explained for the rest of the world. As to how you’ll explain the talking to your houseplants….let me know how that works out!

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If you love the magic of fairy gardening and want to replicate that magic indoors, it’s surprisingly easy. 

 

Fairy with Apple Tree-resized

 (Happy Photos)

 

Indoor fairy gardens are a snap to create and equally easy to grow indoors, providing you use the right plants, give the gardens proper lighting and maintain them.

  

In the first in this series of growing magical miniature indoor fairy gardens, let’s talk about plant options.

 

Indoor Fairy Garden Plants

 

The type of plant you grow indoors for fairy gardens makes a big difference as to how well you’ll do with indoor fairy gardening. Keep in mind, also, that choosing plants that stay miniature is also important. If you grow plants that will soon outgrow the pot, you’re going to need to repot sooner than later.

 

When choosing your indoor fairy garden plants, look for plants that tend to stay small, such as Cuphea ‘La Chiquita’, pink polka dot plant (Hypoestes `Pink Splash’), mini succulents, such as various sedums, and herbs, like the many varieties of thyme, as well as rosemary. You can also go with baby palm trees, which will grow fairly slowly, but at some point will need to be replaced. The neanthe bella (parlor) palm is one good choice.

 

Next time how to plant your indoor fairy garden!

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