When one thinks of trees, visions of vast swaths of forested mountains, steamy jungles, or frosty taigas may come to mind. But not every tree needs a scenic backdrop to flourish—some can be content to live in your home with you. And you have to admit, few things can enliven a bitty apartment or a boring front room like a graceful, leafy tree can!
So, do you have a bare-looking room that could use some greening up? Would you like to purify the air in your home? Do your green thumbs weep in sorrow when the frost kills off the majority of the life in your garden for the winter? Do you want to impress your friends with fruit fresh … from the living room? It seems it is time for a tree to move in with you.
Peruse this list to find your newest—and least annoying—roommate.
1. Peach And Apricot Trees
Yes, you read that right. Dwarf peach trees can be grown indoors very successfully, as can their close relatives, the apricot. Not only will this beauty of a tree give you lovely blossoms in the spring, but they can also even bear the same, familiar fruits we all know and love.
If your tree spends its entire life inside, however, you’ll have to grab a paintbrush and do your best bee impression to gently pollinate the flowers. Be sure to set this flowering beauty in the sunniest room you have for best results.
2. Coffee Tree
Take your java devotion to the next level and grow your own coffee tree. With glossy, oval-shaped leaves and a distinctly tropical look, this little tree is a beautiful sight to see. It grows well in indirect sunlight with moist, well-draining soil, so it can be at home next to a window.
And with some TLC and thoughtful fertilizing, you may even be able to produce some of your own coffee berries! Sure, a single indoor tree may only produce a pittance of a harvest after years of care, but you can bet that will be one special cup of coffee.
3. Kaffir Lime Tree
Lovers of Thai food rejoice—that essential spice to many a curry can easily be grown and enjoyed. Both a graceful indoor tree, a living spice cabinet, and a source of limes, this multi-faceted plant is relatively easy to grow and enjoy indoors.
Give it as much sunlight as you can next to a window and keep its soil well-watered, but not too watered, because the roots may rot. Unlike many of the trees on this list, you don’t need to wait years to get edible use from your tree—just pluck off one of the unique leaves and you’re good to go for cooking dinner!
4. Meyer Lemon Tree
Though citrus trees really do best when they’re able to spend the summers outside, they can thrive indoors during the cold winter months. When I worked in Cleveland, Ohio, I used to visit a citrus greenhouse in February (the worst month, in my opinion) for some life-giving respite from the grey cold of winter—the vibrant smell was absolutely delightful.
Meyer lemons are a sweet-tasting cross between lemons and mandarin oranges and are among the hardiest of the citrus fruits.
These sun-loving trees will do best next to a south-facing window and thrive on “deep and infrequent watering”. If they bloom indoors, you’ll have to pollinate them by hand. But when you’re relishing your living room-grown fruit, you’ll be thankful you did!
5. Norfolk Island Pine Tree
These graceful, soft evergreens are often featured in holiday arrangements, but I hate the thought of how many of these end up in the dump once January hits. Able to live more than 150 years, these trees are hardly disposable!
Native to an island east of Australia, these trees do best in coarse, well-draining soil and can thrive in either full sun or partial shade. During the typically dry months of winter, your tree can benefit from being misted with water every now and again. They can grow quite tall in the wild, but my indoor specimen seemed to slow down around six feet—perfect for the sunny corner where it made its home.
6. Parlour Palm Tree
With a name like this, you can guess that these tropical trees are as at-home indoors as they are outdoors. Whether you are going for a Victorian-era style with these slow-growing, composed plants or just want to have a profusion of growing things in wildly colorful pots, they will handily fill the role.
Able to grow in lower-light conditions, cheap to buy, and easy to care for, these are the indoor tree for the person who may have a tendency to forget about their plants every now and again. Just make sure to keep their soil evenly moist and give them a mist every now and again—these trees, remembering their tropical homeland, enjoy moist conditions.
7. Olive Tree
I love the subtle, silvery green foliage and neat little leaves of the olive tree. If you are looking for indoor foliage but don’t want to make your house look like a screenshot of Jumanji, perhaps these Mediterranean evergreens are right for you.
And like many of the trees in this list, it is possible for your olive trees to bear fruit! These self-pollinating trees are surprisingly easy-going, requiring just six hours of sunlight every day and water only when the soil feels dry.
Tips For Indoor Tree Health
You may think that growing an indoor tree would be a relatively simple endeavor…and you’re kind of right. But there are several things you need to know about caring for your living, green decor because having a brown-leaved, ailing tree is not the kind of tone you probably want to set for your color scheme.
Though they’re all lovely, many indoor trees and plants are toxic to pets and small children. Do research on the plants you bring into your home. Then do what you need to do to keep them out of reach—maybe it’s time to invest in that gorgeous plant stand you saw at the antique mall? And be sure to clean up fallen leaves.
The fluoride mixed into city water can be damaging to some plants as well. Some websites recommend watering your trees with filtered water—I think it’s a lot more sensible to just get a rain barrel and water them with free rainwater!
Periodically check your plants for pests—I have found aphids on my indoor plants before! Additionally, especially for really large-leaved plants, wipe them down with a damp rag to remove any dust.
Protect Your Plant’s Health to Help Improve Yours
Whether you live on an 80-acre homestead or a tiny New York City apartment, there is something about the presence of green growing things in the living space that is refreshing to both body and soul. And in the cold, blue-gray months of winter, coming inside to a cheery fire, a cupful of something warm to drink, and the sight of green, vibrant, leafy life is enough to banish even the deepest of the winter doldrums.