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Eight Unique Houseplants You Can Grow From Supermarket Produce

By Edited Jun 1, 2016 4 13

Do you like growing houseplants? Would you like to grow your own fresh produce but do not have a garden? Or do you simply enjoy learning how to do new things? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you might be interested to learn that you can grow many plants, and even save a little money, by using fruit and vegetables from your local supermarket.

1. Fruit Tree In a Pot

When you eat fruit you probably just throw the seeds away. However, those seeds could potentially be grown into a new plant. All you need to do is to take the seeds out of the fruit and allow them to dry on paper towel before potting.

Fruit such as melons, grapes and kiwis are not really suitable for indoor gardening because they grow on large, rambling vines. However, many tropical fruits such as star fruit, mango or papaya grow on trees. If you live in a northern climate you cannot grow a tropical tree in your garden, but it is easy to grow a small potted tree in your house or apartment.

Citrus fruit, such as orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit, will grow into beautiful ornamental house plants. Simply take the seeds from the fruit, plant them in a pot of good potting soil and water regularly. Your potted citrus tree may even produce fruit, although this could take several years.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, The Orange Tree, 1740

2. Pineapple

Although you cannot grow a pineapple plant from seed it is still possible to grow one from a store bought pineapple. Before you cut up your pineapple for eating, twist off the leaves at the top of the fruit to remove the crown. If you remove the leaves from the lower end of the crown you should find some small roots growing there. This is a sign that it has the potential to produce a new plant. Put the crown in good potting soil and keep it well watered until new leaves begin to grow. Then cut back your watering schedule to encourage the plant to produce more roots.

It is easy to get an ornamental house plant, but actually getting a new pineapple is another matter. I have had a couple of plants growing in my house for well over a year with no sign of producing fruit. I have not had much success with this, you are supposed to be able to force the plant to fruit when it is about a year and a half old. This is done by putting an apple in the pot next to the pineapple plant and covering it with a plastic bag.

Nothing Could Be Easier than Potting a Pineapple

3. Avocado

An avocado pit will require some special treatment to encourage it to grow. The procedure is as follows:

  • Remove the pit from the avocado and wash it with clear  water.
  • Poke three or four toothpicks around the pit. They should stick out like the spokes of a wheel.
  • Half fill a glass with water and use the toothpicks to suspend the pit by placing them on the rim of the glass. The bottom end of the pit should be hanging in the water.
  • Maintain the water level by topping it up regularly and wait patiently.
  • If you are lucky, the pit will produce roots and a shoot in four to six weeks. You can then plant your baby avocado tree in a pot using good quality potting soil.

Young avocado plant (seedling), complete with parted pit and roots

4. Elephant's Ear

Elephant's ear is a large, showy plant which is often grown as a garden ornamental.  It can be grown from taro, a root vegetable which is used to make Hawaiian poi.

Leaves of the dasheen kind of taro

Taro is a tuber which produced new plants from corms or eyes situated on the outside surface of the root.

To start a new plant cut off a piece of the taro tuber with a corm, plant it in a large pot, add some high nitrogen liquid fertilizer and water thoroughly. Keep the soil moist with regular watering and after the plant appears continue to keep the soil moist and add a dose of liquid fertilizer once a week. Since taro likes high humidity, you should also mist the leaves frequently to keep them healthy.

5. Ginger

Ginger is a decorative plant which can easily be grown from a piece of store-bought ginger root. First of all, you should soak a piece of ginger root for a couple of hours. While it is soaking, prepare a pot by placing rocks in the bottom for drainage and then filling it with potting soil.  Plant the ginger root in the pot and water regularly, letting the soil dry out after each watering.

The shoots should appear in a week or two and in a few months you will have a decent sized plant. You now have two potential ways to enjoy your ginger. The flavor of fresh ginger is amazing in stir fries and stews so you might want to dig your plant up and harvest the roots,  saving a few pieces of ginger root to start the process again. On the other hand, you might want to let your plant continue growing and hope it will produce some beautiful ginger flowers.

Zingiber officinale

6. Pepper

Although pepper is considered a vegetable it is actually the seed-bearing fruit of the plant. Both  hot and sweet bell peppers are full of seeds which you can use to grow your own ornamental pepper plants:

  • When you clean your pepper save the seeds from the inside, deciding how many you would like to use.
  • Put the seeds in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight.
  • If you have soaked all the seeds you will need to plant them individually in seedling trays and replant them when they begin to grow.
  • If you are only using a few seeds, plant them directly into a plant pot filled with good quality potting soil.
  • Place your pepper plants by a window and water regularly.
You will get a lovely plant with dark green leaves and small white flowers.

Cubanelle pepper plant with flowers and emerging fruit
If you want the flowers to produce peppers they will need to be pollinated. When plants grow outside their flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects, but since you (hopefully) do not have bees inside your house you will need to pollinate the flowers by hand. Use a cotton swab to gather pollen from the male flowers and transfer it to the female flowers. Making a buzzing sound as you do it is optional

7. Tomato

Although a bit messier than getting seeds from a pepper, the process for obtaining tomato seeds is basically the same.
Tomato Seeds
To clean tomato seeds, scoop them out of the tomato with a spoon, place them in a small container and cover them with water. Put the container in a warm place and leave it to sit for a couple of days, removing any scum that forms on the surface of the water.  Then rinse the seeds in clear water and allow them to dry on a paper towel before planting.

8. Herbs

Green herbs from the supermarket are expensive and, quite honestly, not that fresh. But it is possible to enjoy the wonderful flavor of healthy, fresh picked herbs by rooting some at home. Choose a piece of herb that is as fresh as possible. Cut the stem and dip the cut end in water and then in powdered rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in a small pot, remembering, of course, to water regularly.

Fresh Basil

When your new herb plant is established, the pot can be kept conveniently on hand in the kitchen and leaves can be cut as needed.

< src="http://us-ads.openx.net/w/1.0/ai?auid=537735502&cs=6305fd7298&cb=1433125455949&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wikihow.com%2FGrow-Elephant-Ear-Plants&c.width=666&c.height=82&c.tag_id=21083&c.taglink_id=32112&c.scale=1.0930932&c.url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wikihow.com%2FGrow-Elephant-Ear-Plants&c.params=&c.impression_type=26" border="0" alt="">Cover the tuber with soil and water deeply. After watering, about 1" to 2" (2.5 cm - 5 cm) of soil should cover the tuber.5. GingerAnother beautiful plant is ginger. Ginger is a tuber, so you can simply plant a piece with an eye in a pot, water regularly and wait for it to grow.

I have just given you a few ideas. For even more suggestions, check out this book by Richard Langer.

The After-Dinner Gardening Book
Amazon Price: $41.86 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 1, 2016)

If I have inspired you to try your hand at growing some unique houseplants, why not check out what you have in your fridge? Who knows? You might be able to get started right now.



Jun 17, 2015 3:20am
These are some great ideas, thanks. I read about kitchen scraps earlier this year and grew some garlic, radicchio and chives, it was interesting to watch.

Would love to try growing one of the citrus plants some day. Terrific article!
Jun 17, 2015 9:40am
Thanks for stopping by, Leigh. I`m sure you would enjoy having your own citrus tree. I am now trying to get my pineapple to fruit by using an apple. I will keep you posted.
Jun 18, 2015 3:39pm
This is a great activity for Daisy Scout to earn the petal "Use Resources Wisely".
Jun 18, 2015 3:55pm
Thanks for the great suggestion MMM.
Jun 20, 2015 5:40pm
Love this kind of thing. I'd definitely try growing some peppers and herbs. Shared, G+'d and pinned to many boards.
Jun 21, 2015 11:31am
Yes, peppers are easy to grow, although herbs are a bit more tricky. I have just planted some ginger and am waiting for it to sprout. I am also trying to force my pineapple to fruit and it looks as if I have a tiny wee pineapple coming.
Jun 30, 2015 3:18pm
I had a neighbor with the best avocados in the world. I planted one of the pips just as you described and, when it was bigger, popped it into the garden. It took a few years but one day I saw my first little avocado hanging from a branch. It was very exciting.
Jul 1, 2015 12:43am
It's neat, isn't it Kathy? I hope my baby pineapple survives!
Nov 17, 2015 10:41am
Here's the latest update on my indoor gardening efforts. I didn't get a pineapple, but my ginger plant is now 18 inches tall and I have a crowd of wee pepper plants that I have to transplant.
Nov 17, 2015 4:58pm
Great article, Lesley! I'm going to try to grow a tomato and maybe an orange. It sounds like fun!
Nov 17, 2015 5:13pm
Good luck, Pat!
Apr 3, 2016 12:56am
I found ginger easy to grow, although it does take a while. The trouble is that I love ginger and even though had quite a few pants, I needed a much bigger patch to keep up.
Apr 4, 2016 1:58am
Yes, I agree, Shar-On. The ginger plants don't seem to grow fast enough! But you can't beat the flavor.
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  1. "Grow Your Own Tree." Hand Grown in California. 29/05/2015 <Web >
  2. "Growing Elephant Ear Plants." Gardening Channel. 29/05/2015 <Web >
  3. "How To Grow Ginger At Home." Tropical Permaculture. 29/05/2015 <Web >
  4. John Van Zile "Rooting Hormone - How To Use Rooting Hormone." about.com. 29/05/2015 <Web >
  5. handsonlife "Grow Ginger as a Houseplant." Instructables. 31/05/2015 <Web >
  6. "How to Grow Bell Peppers Indoors." Wiki How. 31/05/2015 <Web >
  7. Trudi Davidoff "How to Save Tomato Seeds." gardenweb.com. 01/01/2013. 3/06/2015 <Web >

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