Letter Re: Growing Dwarf Fruit Trees Indoors?

Dear Jim:
I was wondering if any green thumbs out there have actually grown dwarf fruit trees indoors?
Regards, – Rourke

The Memsahib Replies: Yes, fruit trees can be grown indoors but each flower must be hand pollinated unless you have a house full of bees, butterflies, and/or flies. That means for each piece of fruit that you hope to produce, you must transfer pollen from one flower to another. Fruit will not develop unless the male pollen enters the female ovum. This can be done with the tip of a feather. If you have only room for one tree, be sure it is “self pollinating”. Self pollinating means that your tree will bear both male and female flowers. In nature trees are not self pollinating and you need two trees of each. Two cherries, two apples, two lemons and so forth. The crop yield-versus-labor ratio is fairly small for most dwarf varieties. My grandparents have grown dwarf fruit trees, as well as regular fruit trees, for the last thirty years under optimal California weather. And I have to say it seems like grandma and grandpa are always babying and fussing over the dwarf trees. They seem much more susceptible to insect and fungal infestations. Also, dwarf varieties are grafted onto rootstock, not propagated from seeds, so you cannot grow new dwarf trees from the seeds. Since the Rawles Ranch is in a severe winter climate zone, I have considered growing some dwarf citrus in a greenhouse. I would grow each of mine in a big pot (such as a half wine barrel, or possibly a bit larger), set on a low four-wheeled furniture dolly and wheel the trees outside after the danger of frost has long since past. And then bring them back into the greenhouse in early fall. Lemons would be a treat in long term TEOTWAWKI when they would no longer be available at the grocery. My great grandma said that lemonade was a much anticipated once a year 4th of July treat when she homesteaded in North Dakota. And an orange for Christmas was considered a special splurge. Who knows? Perhaps someday oranges and lemons will be a fantastic barter item!