Can I Grow Tropical Plants in Non-Tropical Areas?

Tropical PlantsWriting this article I started to think of my family and friends in Massachusetts.  They have been hammered by snow lately and every post I make on Facebook about how nice it is here results in some good humored backlash and jealousy.  Being from the Northeast and living in Hawaii is a great thing.  The tropical weather is perfect almost all the time.

People back home would love to be doing what I do on a daily basis; enjoying the tropical weather, gardening, growing tropical plants and cooking and eating with tropical fruit and vegetables that they just can’t get unless they buy it in a grocery store.  So, it got me thinking…

Can someone grow tropical plants in non-tropical parts?

What I found out was:  Yes, they can.  Tropical plants can be grown right in your own living room with the proper care and preparation, as well as the right equipment to do the job.  Imagine the money people could save buy growing those fruits and vegetables in their own homes and not paying outrageous prices at specialty stores.  Imagine the health benefits of eating fresh papaya and tomatoes in the dead of winter, during a blizzard!

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Potting

Most tropical plants will do well in various sorts of pots:  metal, plastic and ceramic.  Make sure that the pots you use have drainage holes.

When re-potting plants make sure to use a vegetable and plant made soil or product that encourages growth.  Also, ensure that when you re-pot and fill in the new pot with your growing material that the soil line is approximate that same line as the plant was growing in.  Example, if your dwarf papaya plant had 6 inches of stem showing, make sure you have that same level of soil in the potting system.

Lighting

Yup, you know it.  You have tropical plants so you need lots of sunlight.  But how do you get lots of sunlight during a week of snow storms in cold regions?

The answer is you can’t.  However, there are many plant lighting systems on Amazon and around the web that offer just the right kind of light that plants will need.

Note:  Most window glass has filters in them that prevent the good sunlight from getting to your plants.  Placing them by a window with sunlight will mostly not do the trick.

Watering

Tropical plants need lots of water.  But they also need well drained soil.  Don’t drown your plants and if you water them often make sure that your potting system has a great drainage system as well.  Usually, when the surface of your soil is dry it is safe to water your plants and vegetables again.  Plastic and metal will hold moisture better within the soil while ceramic pots dry and drain better.  Choose your pots to your taste and abilities.

Temperature

Absolutely no freezing temperatures! Most tropical plants do best in temperatures from 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 83 degrees.  Some plants will do okay in colder but don’t take the risk.  (I know, I know, it’s hard to get cold region homes to stay at 75 degrees consistently.)

Fertilizers

Don’t use too much.  That’s bad for tropical plants.  Use a water soluble fertilizer.  Don’t spend lots of money on a beautiful tropical plant only to over-fertilize and kill them.  Read your directions thoroughly.

Conclusion:

If you’re willing to take the time and put in the care needed to grow your tropical plants in an area where the weather is not tropical it is very much worth your time.  Ask anyone who has these kinds of plants and food on their tables and they will most likely tell you how great it is.  Besides, you’ll be the envy of your friends with fresh, tropical fruit and beautiful tropical flowers growing in your home.