"In these places, you will find the
seeds for some exotic tropical plant just waiting for you to plant
and grow," said Greg Stack. "Indoor gardening projects are great
ways to pass the time, add a few plants to your indoor collection
and have fun experimenting with something that you may not be
familiar with. Even the kids can get interested in the simple
pleasures of gardening."
noted that using seeds, pits and tops of fruits, roots and stems
that are often left in the kitchen when preparing meals can lead to
plants that have an exotic look and draw comments from visiting
He offered a few tips on getting
A mixed garden of foliage is easy to
create with the tops of carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and other
root crops. Cut about 1 inch off the top of the roots you want to
use. Fill a shallow plant saucer that is about 10 inches in diameter
with pea gravel or colored aquarium gravel.
"Fill the saucer with water until
you just see it at the surface of the gravel," said Stack. "Next,
take the tops that you have collected and push them into the gravel.
Arrange and mix them up and keep water in the tray to just below the
gravel. In a few days, a garden of mixed foliage will emerge.
Everything from the fine, fern textures of the carrot to the bright
red of the beets to the coarse green of the parsnips will be
Stack said that by keeping the tray
just filled with water and using a weak fertilizer solution, it is
possible to keep the garden of leafy greens looking good for quite
"Tropical fruit is among the easiest
to grow from seed because, unlike some of our temperate fruit, they
don't require any special treatments to break seed dormancy," said
Stack. "One of the most unique seeds is that of the mango."
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After a person cuts open a mango and
enjoys the fruit inside, a large, hairy, flat bean seed remains. The
4-inch seed can be the start of something interesting, he noted.
"Take the seed and scrub off any
remaining flesh from the fruit," he said. "Give it a warm bath for
about five days by letting the seed soak in warm water that is
changed daily. This helps with germination. Plant the seed on end,
not flat, so that the 'eye,' a slight depression, is about 1 inch
below the soil.
"The seed will take awhile to
germinate, but once it does, you are in for a treat. The mango is a
treelike plant that has very long, dark green, glossy leaves. The
new leaves at the top of the plant start out blood red, providing a
great contrast. You won't get fruit, but you will have an
interesting houseplant for the windowsill."
Grapefruit seeds are very easy to
grow. After collecting the seeds, plant them about 1 inch deep in
pots. After they germinate, they quickly grow into treelike plants
with glossy green leaves.
"Papayas -- those large, pear-shaped
fruits -- are not only good to eat but are just full of potential
plants," said Stack. "Inside a papaya, you will find literally
hundreds of black seeds the size of peppercorns. Scoop these seeds
out and lay them on a newspaper. Roll the seeds around to clean off
the jellylike covering, wash them and plant. Put several seeds in a
pot about a half-inch deep.
"Papaya germinates very reliably and
quickly, and in no time you will have plants to transplant into
pots. The plants have leaves that are formed at the top of a central
trunk and look like maple leaves. The plants may flower, and the
flowers are very fragrant."
[University of Illinois news