The indoor garden

Indoor tropicals

I don’t do a lot of houseplants, but I do have a few things indoors that aren’t cold-hardy enough to live outdoors.

  • Black pot: Meyer lemon tree
  • Gold scrollwork pot: Bay laurel (for bay leaves)
  • Gray pot (far back): Hibiscus (this one makes flavorless tea, sadly)
  • Square pot (on floor): Cinnamon
  • Terra cotta pot (foreground): Ginger

I’ve grown ginger in a pot before; it took 9 months but I had a nice harvest.

The bay tree is cranking out leaves like crazy, and they’re the best bay leaves I’ve ever tasted. The last flush of growth made leaves almost as big as my whole hand. Wacky. The tree branches every time it’s pruned, which resulted in an odd 2′ long branch sticking out to the side. I just trimmed that off about a week ago. Then you cut the leaves off the branch and let them dry, and use as you would bay leaves.

The lemon tree is tiny and I think suffered some transplant shock, but it’s just started to put out some minute new leaves, so I think it might pull through.

The cinnamon tree I just planted last Monday. I’m really excited about this one. Cinnamon plants are really hard to find. I got mine from FloraExotica, a place in Canada with an underwhelming web site and kludgy payment system, because it was the only place I could find that had them in stock. It arrived without a hitch and it appears to be in good shape. I’m happy that this one has side branches off the main stem already. It’s the bark of the side branches that you eat, and like the bay, when you trim a branch, two more take its place. That should make this a long-lived and productive plant.

My dream is to serve homegrown pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving next year. And who knows; if the sugar beets work out, it might be 100% local!



  1. Allison said,

    May 11, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Ohh very cool!

  2. TeacherPatti said,

    May 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Do you just put them by the window? I have a bay window…would that work, do you think?
    And where the heck did you get the lemon tree? That is so cool! For that matter, what about the bay leaf tree and ginger????

    • Emily said,

      May 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Yep, these just live in the window you see above. That window faces west, and it gets shaded with a screen in the summer – so dappled shade for most of the afternoon and a couple hours of strong sunlight. The hibiscus and bay have been there for years and are doing well.

      Meyer lemons are becoming a popular house plant and you can get them many places. I got mine from Gurney’s catalog when they had their “buy $25, get $25 of stuff free” sale in the spring. The bay tree came from the big herb vendor at the A2 farm market, and the ginger is just organic grocery store ginger. Look for stuff that’s really fresh, not at all dried out. If you can find some where the skin isn’t even papery and it has a few buds trying to grow out of the joints, you’re golden.

  3. varmentrout said,

    May 13, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Emily, the bay leaves are even better just used fresh off the tree instead of dried.

    I keep mine on the patio in the summer. Unfortunately, bay trees are prone to scale and I had to prune mine back severely last year because of this. I now have some horticultural oil (organic approved) which I hope will solve the problem for now.

    I never tried growing ginger – sounds intriguing.

    • Emily said,

      May 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Fresh bay leaves? Really? The fresh ones have absolutely no scent; interesting that they would taste so good!

      My cure for scale insects was to scrape them all off with my thumbnail and douse the leaves – top and undersides – with insecticidal soap every other day for a week or so. Then I brought the plant indoors and never took it back outside. I’m only cooking with the leaves that have emerged since I sprayed.

  4. May 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Where did you manage to find the cinnamon plant? And is it Cinnamomum zeylanicum? Or the cassia cinnamon? I’m told the former is much easier to grind and has a sweeter flavor. But apparently Cinnamomum cassia is more widely available, and that’s what most of us know as cinnamon.

  5. May 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Nevermind. I should probably finish reading blog posts before blurting out excited questions. And I probably shouldn’t post at all while tired and waiting for lunch to finish cooking ==> Poor reading skills. Sorry.

  6. home garden said,

    May 19, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Great job! I’d love to learn from you. I want to grow my own spices too.

  7. green house said,

    June 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    the idea to planting ginger in the house is very inspiring..
    i love to try it at my home, since i don’t have a lawn (i live in a tiny apartment on the third floor).
    i wish i can harvest good gingers by the end of the year… yayyyy!!
    more, i want to plant hibiscus and cinnamon too.
    thank you.

  8. Kim said,

    March 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Holy crap I want to grow ALL THE THINGS!
    Because of this post, I am now going to order a lemon tree and a cinnamon tree.
    ..I’ve never really grown anything at home, but I just went on a spree and ordered so many herbs and such. Hopefully I don’t kill them all off 😛

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