The rise in the popularity of houseplants has been obvious and notable, especially since the beginning of 2020. With this newfound cultural obsession for plants, many of us developed a desire to turn our apartments and houses into our own indoor jungle oasis. What better way to do so than through the introduction of trees into our homes? Thanks to hundreds of years of research, the botanical community has been able to identify “dwarf” varieties of trees, aka shorter and more compact versions of our favorite shady friends that can fit underneath our ceiling and grow alongside all of other, albeit smaller, indoor plants.
Here are our top seven trees you can grow indoors!
Meyer Lemon (Citrus x meyeri)
While many individuals think of indoor trees as purely ornamental, we wanted to dispel that myth by starting our list with a very edible and recipe-friendly fruit tree first. The Meyer Lemon itself is famous for how versatile and sweet it is in baking and recipes from all over the world; the tree the lemon comes from is as beautiful and easy to care for as the fruit is delicious to eat. The tree is also one of the few dwarf varieties of the fruit-bearing tree that is self-pollinating, meaning it doesn’t rely on pollinators like bees to transfer pollen among the flowers for fruits to still grow.
The extensive root system of the Citrus x meyeri makes this plant resilient to some fluctuations in environment, as well as somewhat hardy to the cold. In your home, you will want to place your Meyer Lemon tree near a window that receives bright, direct sunlight or close by to a high-powered grow light. Keep the acidic soil moist, but not soaking wet, so allow it to mostly dry out in between waterings. If you live somewhere that gets warm in the Summertime, you can treat your Meyer Lemon tree to a little time outside in the fresh air during the day before bringing it back inside at night.
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
While this particular houseplant may not necessarily always be a tree, depending upon the size you decide to grow it to, the Bird of Paradise can grow to astounding heights and is one of the most unique and dramatic options for trees you can grow inside. This tropical plant is astounding and well-known, not just for its massive foliage, but also for the vibrant blooms it puts out in the wild. Although, it’s not likely for a Bird of Paradise to bloom indoors, it can still grow to towering heights if given enough humidity, light, and attention.
The Bird of Paradise naturally grows in warm and moist areas of the word like Central America and its various islands, so it prefers to live in conditions similar to what it would find in its native environment in your home. This can be achieved to bright, indirect light as often as possible and regular moisture maintenance through a high-powered humidifier in the same room. When caring for a Bird of Paradise, the most important thing to consider is the moisture level of the soil; while it prefers to root in something well-draining, it rarely likes to have its soil dry out completely, so keep it in a deep container to allow its roots to stretch out.
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
We can’t write a piece about trees that you can grow in your home without talking about the Fiddle Leaf Fig. This extremely popular houseplant can be found in in both boutique plant shops and big box stores around the world and have been grown inside homes for decades. As common as these beautiful, tall-growing trees are, they can also be very needy and require plenty of time and attention. Also make sure to keep in mind that these plants are toxic to all kinds of pets, so think about this while choosing your next indoor tree.
This ever-popular houseplant requires a lot of moisture, a lot of light, and a lot of hands-on attention because even just a small lapse in care can result in disease or even death. A Fiddle Leaf Fig needs both high amounts of direct sunlight and indirect sunlight, well-draining soil and high humidity (misting this plant multiple times per week works best), and even like a high concentration of nutrients but not too much or else it could experience root fry. The easiest way to care for this indoor tree is simply through trail and error; only through learning about your specific Fiddle Leaf Fig, will you be able to get it to grow.
Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)
The Rubber Tree is similar to the Fiddle Leaf Fig in that it is also from the Ficus genus, but it has a look and personality all its own. This plant can be found in plant shops both large and small, and typically starts out at a small height of only eight or nine inches. While the Rubber Tree most often features glossy, dark green leaves, there are other varieties like the Ruby that has striking green, pink, and off-white variegation to create a stunning centerpiece in a home setting. However, Rubber Trees are some of the most toxic plants for cats and dogs, with the sticky white substance filling the leaves and stems of this tree being the main ingredient in – you guessed it – rubber.
The Ficus elastica is a surprisingly easy plant to care for, as long as you can give it regularly bright, indirect light throughout the day. Just like its cousin, the Ficus lyrata, the Rubber Tree appreciates its fair share of humidity and prefers to receive it through misting; this can be done either by hand or by a humidifier with a mist function. As long as you are using a well-draining, easily-aerated soil, you can grow your Rubber Tree in any deep, indoor container. In the Winter, move your tree away from drafty windows and decrease its water schedule slightly to accommodate for its resting reason.
Key Lime (Citrus x aurantiifolia)
The Citrus x aurantiifolia is another dwarf variety of a citrus tree that can produce useable, edible fruit, just like its cousin, the Meyer Lemon. While this kind of lime is originally from certain parts of Southeast Asia, it is the namesake for a certain type of American pie enjoyed during the warmer season of the year. Today, it is called the Key Lime Tree because it was brought to the Florida Keys of the United States and is still cultivated there to this day. The dwarf varieties of
this tree tend to stop growing around six or seven feet, making it the perfect size for most homes.
The Key Lime Tree can be kept at a relatively small size, allowing for it to be relocated outdoors in the Spring and Summertime, allowing it to bloom and have pollinators help it along in the fruit process. If you don’t have the convenience of outdoor space however, you can hand-pollinate your trees yourself instead. Either way, make sure to keep your flowering lime tree moist and fertilized in the growing season so it doesn’t have a lapse in the nutrients it needs to continue producing fruits for you to harvest and use later on.
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola)
The leaves of the Schefflera aroboricola, aka the Umbrella Tree, look more akin to flowers than regular tree leaves, making it one of the most visually interesting trees you can grow indoors! These clusters of leaves can grow in sparse or can be meticulously monitored and carefully pruned to produce a thick, lush tree; it all depends upon what you want to make it! While this plant is typically found with medium green leaves, you can also find variegated options that have splashes of white throughout, creating visual interest far beyond that of a simple, green tree.
The Umbrella Tree is a fairly easy tree to care for and can withstand the occasional forgotten watering or fertilization. Because this Schefflera can have a significant amount of surface area for photosynthesis with its countless small leaves within its leaf clusters, it requires slightly more nutrients than the others on this list. Don’t worry – this just means that your usual seasonal fertilizing process will just double in frequency, still maintaining the title of being easy and beginner-friendly. Keep in mind that this tree prefers humid environments, so plan to mist your tree a few times each week, or include a humidifier in your space in the near future.
Avocado (Persea americana)
Yes, you read that right – you can grow every millennial’s favorite fruit inside your home. It’s hard to scroll on the internet these days without finding another tutorial for growing an avocado tree from just a pit and a few toothpicks, but this is for good reason! While avocado trees rarely bloom indoors, it is absolutely still possible that they could produce fruit, after months or years of the proper care routine, of course. However, if you don’t want to wait around for ages, you can also start with a grafted dwarf tree; these are more likely to produce fruit, and much quicker than a tree grown from a pit.
Growing avocados can be significantly easier than you might think at first. Although this plant is typically grown in very warm, consistently humid climates, some varieties can withstand the occasional cold and dry weather of North American homes. We recommend using a sand-based soil mix and making a habit of pinching off new growth every few stems to encourage a stronger, bushier tree with more opportunities for fruit. Also, make sure your avocado tree is receiving plenty of light, and consider supplementing its sunlight intake with a grow light in the Wintertime.
Also, don’t forget to check out our other blogs! We offer tips and tricks to get the most of your gardening or indoor plant journey on a regular basis. Do you have a subject you would like us to write about? Let us know in the comments below.