Unusual fruiting shrubs and trees – where have you been all my gardening life? That was the question I asked myself while standing at One Green World’s tasting table in Molalla, Oregon. The nursery specializes in unique fruits from around the world. Affable owner, Jim Gilbert, presided over an enticing array of mouth-watering offerings. Landscaping you could eat—oh boy. Yellow cherries, aptly named ‘Gold’, were so tangy and juicy I had to restrain my hand from leaping out for more, even as I savored my first sampling. Plates of red, black, pink and white currants were labeled with names like ‘Blanká’, ‘Swedish White’, ‘Revada’, and ‘Gloire des Sablons’. Each one carried a flavor as distinct as different wines. Jim presented edible blossoms of pineapple guava—the petals surprisingly soft and sweet. I stood there, trying not to gobble the delectables, and made a vow—from now on, I’ll grow landscaping that gives me food.
I admired Prunus ‘Nichols’ in the sale yard. This plum is all about red—foliage and fruit, inside and out. Then I discovered the tropicals, like dwarf pineapple Ananas comosus ‘Sugar Loaf’—a great candidate for greenhouse culture. Indoor landscaping you could eat—double oh boy.
I asked Jim for a tip on how to determine which plants would be happy growing in a glasshouse. He told me to look for those less-vigorous varieties that are naturally dwarf or grow slowly. For instance, the small fig tree, Ficus carica ‘Negronne’, with its dark red-fleshed fruit, flourishes in container culture. Jim also liked dwarf citrus and gave me terrific advice for growing citrus in containers—use acid potting soil—the kind for rhododendrons. He said the acidity of the free-draining soil mix allows the plants to take up more essential nutrients, including iron. (For other tips on citrus, see my column, “What’s Wrong with my Plant?”)
Ten fruiting plants to try in a greenhouse
- Citrus junos ‘Yuzu Ichandrin’ – lemon-lime flavored fruit
- Citrus latifolia ‘Bearss’ – juicy lime
- Citrus meyeri – easy-to-grow Meyer lemon
- Eriobotrya japonica – loquat, light orange fruit
- Feijoa sellowiana – pineapple guava, fruit and those delicious petals.
- Ficus carica ‘Atreano’ – dwarf fig, light green fruits with pink flesh
- Punica granatum ‘Sochi Dwarf’ – dwarf pomegranate
- Musa acuminata ‘Super Dwarf’ – eight-foot tall banana, for fruit, leaves
- Olea europaea ‘Arbequina’ – compact Spanish olive
- Ugni molinae – Chilean guava, small tasty fruit.