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Growing fruit trees

Can You Grow Tropical Fruit in a Greenhouse?

I had the opportunity of visiting Thailand one summer when I was 14 years old. The country is like a piece of paradise on Earth.

What excited me the most was the display of colorful tropical fruits on the corner of every street. I’d never seen such fruits back home and it was my ultimate wish to take a piece of Thailand with me.

I bought some rambutan and jackfruit seeds and planted them in my backyard. I live in a city where tropical plants don’t grow and harvesting freshly-grown exotic fruits was a dream come true for me.

As my passion for growing tropical fruits increased, I soon found the need to build a greenhouse to protect my plants from the freezing cold temperatures each winter. Trust me; it was the best decision I ever made.

Let me take you through the process of growing tropical fruits inside a greenhouse and show you how you can add diversity to your botanical collection with lush, evergreen foliage.

All You Need to Know about Growing Tropical Fruits in a Greenhouse

Greenhouses give many gardening enthusiasts (like me and you!) the opportunity to grow trees and plants that would not be able to survive under normal circumstances if they are not in their native habitat. Tropical fruit trees are no exception.

In this section, we will look at various types of exotic fruits. We will also shed light on how you can design your own greenhouse so you can grow them in abundance under the right environmental conditions. Let’s get started!

What are Tropical Fruits?

Tropical fruits are fruits that grow only in hot and humid regions near the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and cover most tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia, South America, Central America and Oceania. Tropical fruits need warm temperatures to survive.

Ideally, tropical fruits were used as staples in the diets of people residing in tropical and subtropical regions but in the last few decades, they are being grown popularly to generate income. Commercial growing of tropical fruits improves the local economy.

Examples of Tropical Fruits:

Exotic tropical fruits that provide nutrition and a balanced diet include:

  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Guavas
  • Passion fruits
  • Pitayas
  • Rambutans
  • Durians
  • Jackfruits
  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Coconuts
  • Kiwis
  • Acai berries
  • Starfruits
  • Sapodillas
  • Soursops
  • Pomegranates

Growing Tropical Fruits Trees in a Greenhouse

Most exotic plants require a southern location and protection from winter winds, breezes and snow. If you are planning to grow them in your background, you must consider the climatic conditions.

If you live in a city like Miami, you might be able to grow tropical fruits during hotter months of the year but in cities like Syracuse, you definitely cannot grow such exotic fruits without the presence of a protective structure like a greenhouse.

Tropical fruit trees require soil with plenty of organic matter that can be well-drained. They also require water several times each day, especially during hotter months so the root ball stays moist at all times. Such conditions can easily be created and controlled in a greenhouse.

Designing and Building a Tropical Greenhouse

When designing and building a greenhouse for your fruit trees, you must use materials that will support their growth. For example, tropical fruits need plenty of sunshine so you must build a transparent glass or polycarbonate greenhouse to let the maximum amount of light in.

Once you have decided on the materials for the foundation, you must think about electric installations you will have to make to control the environment for your tropical fruit trees.

You will need exhaust fans, circulating fans, greenhouse controllers and plenty of lights. You should also get a greenhouse fogger to control the humidity level in your greenhouse and drive drown temperatures if it gets too hot.

Running water and natural gas are also essential to ensure that your greenhouse stays like a tropical oasis even when it’s snowing outside.

A heater will allow temperature control and keep the temperature between the ideal range of 80-84 degrees Fahrenheit (source), whereas the water supply will help with irrigation if there is a lack of rainfall.

How to Grow Tropical Fruit in a Greenhouse: A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Pick Your Exotic Fruits

When growing exotic fruits in a greenhouse, you must think about which fruit you want to grow. The easiest tropical fruits to grow inside a greenhouse in colder climates would include papaya, pineapple, pomegranate, fig, avocado and guava.

Do not grow more than 3 or 4 fruits at a time because every fruit has its own specific requirements and you don’t want to get too caught up. Pick a tree that can grow well enough inside your greenhouse, considering its height.

Step 2: Create the Ideal Atmosphere for Sowing

Conduct thorough research about the ideal environmental conditions required by the fruits you are planning to cultivate. For example, bananas need loose soil and sunshine all day long to grow. The ideal temperature to grow bananas is 78-86 degrees Fahrenheit (source).

On the other hand, coconuts grow best in sandy and loamy soils. They need 70% to 80% humidity for proper growth and need 1500-2500 mm of annual rainfall (source).

Step 3: Sow and Care for Your Trees

After you have created the ideal atmosphere for sowing, sow the seeds and look after your fruit trees. (video)

Growing exotic fruits in a greenhouse requires a lot more effort than just keeping your greenhouse warm during winter. You must monitor the environment every single day and ensure it does not soar too high on hot days.

If there is no possibility of rainfall, arrange for irrigation to ensure your fruits receive an adequate amount of water to thrive. Providing ventilation is also essential to ensure fresh air to the trees, control humidity and temperature and keep the trees safe from diseases.

Pull mulch and weeds away from the base of the plants to allow the sunlight to hit the soil. Protect the trunk of the tree with mounding soil or bubble wrap. If you’re expecting snowfall, water the plants more often since water helps store heat and prevents the plants from freezing. 

Step 4: Fertilize!

Many exotic plants and trees require fertilizers if the soil does not meet the nutrient requirements. Since you are growing them in their unnatural habitat, you must ensure they get the same amount and quality of nutrients as they would in the wild.

Exotic fruits need high amounts of iron and magnesium. Choose a fertilizer blend that will ensure that the trees receive these nutrients and feed them properly. (video)

Step 5: Fix Cold Damage*

If cold damage occurs, wait 3 to 5 months before pruning the dead wood around the plants since extra vegetation can help bring the plant back to life. To prevent root rot, avoid watering the plant. If the leaves have wilted or drooped, reduce fertilizer usage.

*optional; dependent on weather conditions

Step 6: Harvest Your Fruits

When the flowers have bloomed and your fruits have ripened, harvest them and enjoy or sell them if you grew them to earn some bucks! Remember to keep watering your plants so they keep bearing fruit for years to come.

Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in a Greenhouse

  1. Consider the greenhouse size – No matter what exotic fruit you pick, you will need a large greenhouse with a high ceiling. A 7.5feet high greenhouse will not suffice. The minimum height must be 9 feet. You should go higher if your budget allows it.
  2. Pick suitable fruit trees – Before you run to the store to buy seeds, think about the kind of plants you want to grow. If you are growing tropical plants, then you must not cultivate temperate plants in the same greenhouse since both require different conditions to grow.
  3. Practice pollination – Some trees are self-pollinating and need insects, wind and cross-pollination. Others, however, require manual pollination, which entails attracting beneficial insects inside the greenhouse or growing 2 trees of the same type.
  4. Ground or pot – More than 90% of people will plant trees in a pot inside their greenhouse. Such a tree will bear less fruit than if it were in the ground because it will have fewer branches. You should plant a tree in the ground, but if you think you’ll want to move it around later, use a pot.

Frequently-Asked Questions about Growing Tropical Fruits in a Greenhouse

Q1. Can You Grow Tropical Plants in a Greenhouse?

A. Yes! Growing tropical plants in a greenhouse is very much possible as long as you provide the ideal conditions needed by the plants. Greenhouses can help guarantee that tropical plants thrive all year long and not just during the warmer months.

Q2. How Do You Grow Fruit in a Greenhouse?

A. You can cultivate fruit in a greenhouse by providing a carefully-monitored environment. Pick self-pollinating fruits that require less effort and time.

In a greenhouse, fruits can be grown in the ground or in pots and containers. The former method provides more fruit than the latter. The fruit size, however, is the same using both methods.

Q3. Can You Grow Watermelon in a Greenhouse?

A. Yes! You can cultivate watermelons in a greenhouse. You can start your watermelon from seed at any time of the year. However, you will have to create a specific environment. When you cultivate watermelons in a greenhouse, you are able to control the temperature and moisture level needed for plant growth.

Q4. Can You Grow an Avocado Tree in a Greenhouse?

A. Yes! An avocado tree grows fairly well in a well-heated greenhouse. Heat and humidity must both be kept high for the tree to cultivate fruit. Avocado trees also need good light all year round and can get as tall as 20 feet!

Final Thoughts on Growing Tropical Fruit in a Greenhouse

It is fun and challenging to cultivate exotic summer fruits and plants inside your greenhouse, even when it’s snowing outside! We hope this blog prepared you for the process and motivated you to jump right into it. Remember to:

  • Pick the right fruit for cultivation.
  • Ensure your greenhouse has the capacity.
  • Create an ideal environment for growth.
  • Take care of your exotic fruits and plants.
  • Fertilize as needed.
  • Harvest when the time is right!

If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Until next time!