University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall, Winter News Article 


Contact: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Stop. Don't discard those avocado pits, cherrystones, or seeds from this morning's grapefruit. Recycle them into attractive, fun-to-grow plants for your kitchen windowsill.

Children can gain some interesting horticultural knowledge, and have lots of fun, by growing fruit trees and plants from kitchen wastes. Not only is it entertaining, but it can teach them responsibility in carrying out a project.

Start a mini orchard indoors by planting apple seeds in a well-drained soil mixture. If these trees eventually grow too big for the house, you can always plant them outdoors in late spring. But bear in mind that they may never produce fruit of good quality because of unknown pollination sources.

Stone fruits are a little trickier to grow, but with patience, you should end up with a variety of tree-like plants. Experiment with peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, and nectarines.

Just be sure to use only seeds from fresh fruit. Cooking and canning will kill the plant embryo inside the stone.

Plums and cherries will germinate better after storage for several days at temperatures below 40 degrees F or after a winter outdoors. For apricots and peaches, try gently cracking the hard shells with a nutcracker before planting. Be careful not to damage the kernel, however, for this is a living seed.

Plant the stone an inch deep in a damp potting mixture, and with luck, your tree will grow. Just be patient, and don't overwater.

Avocados are always a favorite for kids to grow. Choose a variety that is darker skinned and a little more pear-shaped than the "traditional" avocado, a true "alligator pear." These tend to germinate more readily and grow more quickly.

Once you have removed the pit, wash it off, and allow it to dry for two to three days. Peel away as much of the onion-like skin as possible. Suspend it over a glass of lukewarm water using toothpicks, making sure the broad end of the pit is covered by one-fourth inch of water at all times during the rooting period.

You don't have to live in Florida in order to grow citrus trees. However, plants grown indoors will probably have plenty of lush foliage, but don't expect them to flower or bear fruit.

Seeds from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and even kumquats all will produce attractive foliage plants. Plant the seeds as soon as they are removed from the fruit to prevent them from drying out. Sow in a standard potting mix with good drainage. Place in a sunny spot, and water as needed to keep soil constantly moist.

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