Container gardening is an extremely useful gardening technique for those wishing to expand their growing spaces. Growers may choose to plant in containers or pots for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, those without adequate space or proper climate conditions are able to grow plants that may not be specifically suited to their growing zone. For many, this includes those wishing to delve into the growth of subtropical fruits and vegetables. One such plant, the naranjilla, is a perfect candidate for cultivation in containers.
Potted Naranjilla Trees
Loosely translated to “little orange,” naranjilla plants are native to South America. These unique members of the Solanaceae family produce small orange-yellow fruits which are treasured for their use in juices, as well as in baking and in various sweet treats.
Intolerant of cold temperatures, mature plants produce clusters of small 2-inch (5 cm.) fruits. Though technically relatives of tomatoes, the fruits are noted for their sweet (and sometimes sour) taste.
Since the trees are intolerant of cold, it is not uncommon for gardeners to try their hand at growing naranjilla in containers. This is a great way to enjoy the exotic tasting fruit without making a trip to a more tropical climate.
Growing Naranilla in Containers
When choosing to grow naranjilla in a pot, there are quite a few options. While plants for this herbaceous shrub are available to order online, many growers choose to start the plants from seed. Depending upon where you live, naranjilla seeds will need to be started early in the season. Most growers choose to start the seeds indoors around the middle of January and into February with the help of grow lights and a horticultural heating pad.
Getting an early start will ensure that container grown naranjilla plants will have the best opportunity possible to bloom and produce fruits in their first season. It should also be noted that there are many different types of naranjilla. While many varieties have attention-grabbing thorny spines, there are spineless varieties which may be more suited to be grown as potted naranjilla trees.
Once the seeds have germinated, grow the plants using a grow light or place the seedlings into a bright and sunny windowsill until all chance of frost has passed. Harden the seedlings off and transplant them into their final containers. Since these shrubs do have the potential to grow quite large, make certain to select large pots with adequate drainage.
Plants will continue to grow throughout the season. Many believe this plant to be short-day dependent. This means that it may be likely that fruit will only begin to set when the day length reaches around 8-10 hours. Regardless, the striking foliage and tropical appearance of naranjilla plants makes for a beautiful container grown addition to the home garden.