What can I eat and use to grow a new plant indoors?
January 10, 2013 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I already know about avocados, celery and pineapples. What else can I buy in the supermarket, eat and then plant a seed from which will grow a nice indoor plant?

Bonus points if you can provide links or instructions as to how to actually do it!
posted by neilb449 to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
Chile peppers, if you can get them enough light. Same with tomatoes and any other berry with easily removable seeds.
posted by WasabiFlux at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ginger & Tumeric both make grrreat houseplants, if you give them a good loose soil and plenty of water you shouldn't need to buy them anymore.

Most 'fresh' greens can be sprouted, Asian markets are good for non-standards..

Look into SIP (Sub Irrigation Planters) technology... you can pretty much grow anything you want on a apt patio even in the desert...

I consider myself an urban farmer/permaculture activist so feel free to PM me with any questions.
posted by anthroprose at 12:32 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by periscope at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2013

Lima beans
posted by amro at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2013

Strawberries can be grown in pots indoors.
posted by xingcat at 12:34 PM on January 10, 2013

Pretty much any citrus fruit, sweet potatoes and yams.
posted by squeak at 12:34 PM on January 10, 2013

You can put the white parts from green onions into a shallow dish of water and they will resprout for you.
posted by Think_Long at 12:35 PM on January 10, 2013

I've grown lemon plants and lime plants just by pushing the seeds into the soil of another plant pot that already contains a plant and seeing whether they sprout. Sometimes they do and you can repot them and they live happy lives.
posted by merocet at 12:35 PM on January 10, 2013

Sweet potatoes make a nice vine, but not from seeds.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:35 PM on January 10, 2013

I've had success with leek and chives (buy with the roots still on, eat most but the root, plant root & watch it grow). Also garlic - bought one bulb, divided in pieces, buried those, few month later I had several (smaller) bulbs.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:36 PM on January 10, 2013

Sweetpotato vine will grow so fast you swear you can see it move. Just cut the top off a sweet potato (a good-sized chunk) and put it in dirt.
posted by Ausamor at 1:08 PM on January 10, 2013

Best answer: Definitely garlic, super easy, but it'll take awhile (outdoors, I plant my garlic in November right before the ground freezes, and don't harvest until the next year's mid-to-late summer) and it needs a fairly big pot. Lemongrass is a bit more finicky, but totally doable.

Seconding anything rhizome/root-y, though they will take a long time, maybe around 6 months? -- ginger, turmeric, galengal -- as well as leeks, green onions, etc. Those heads of lettuce that still have the roots on (butter lettuce?) can be stuck in a pot of soil for a prolonged harvest.
Many herbs, particularly basil and mint, will sprout roots if you just stick them in a glass of water on a nice sunny counter, and you can often find coriander/cilantro with the roots still on at Asian supermarkets (the roots are used to make curry paste). It's like buying a bag full of seedlings!

Potatoes, yams, and horseradish will grow easily from scraps and slips, but you'd need a ton of light and at least a 5-gallon bucket to give you a harvest that is even remotely worthwhile. Sweet potatoes make nice vines, though.
Unless you shop at a natural food co-op or buy only heirlooms, many to most sweet peppers and tomatoes sold at grocery stores are sterile hybrid varieties, so they will not produce true to seed (or at all). If you do snag an heirloom or open-pollinated variety at the grocer, the tomato seeds will need to be fermented first. Hot pepper seeds from store-bought fruit are usually OK, although they will likely require a week or two of bottom-heated soil to sprout.

There's a book about this topic as well, Richard Langer's After-Dinner Gardening Book.
posted by divined by radio at 1:13 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

My mother grows cabbage and kale for porch plants, one per pot. They can also be cultivated indoors and are very beautiful.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2013

I just stuck a sprig of rosemary in some water to keep it fresh for a few days and it is taking root without any further effort on my part, so if you buy fresh rosemary (or get it from your mom's house, like I did) you can add that to you list.
posted by TedW at 2:19 PM on January 10, 2013

First, grow coconuts from a store-bought coconut. Next, grow a lime tree (a Key lime tree, in this link). Then you'll be ready to put the lime in the coconut and drink 'em both up.
posted by homelystar at 2:54 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife got some lychees to sprout this summer. They seem to have stalled at about about 8" tall but they seem healthy.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:17 PM on January 10, 2013

I've had good luck rooting sprigs of rosemary, sage, and Vietnamese shiso. One plant grown from the seeds of a grocery store Thai chili grew into a meter-tall potted "tree" with more chilis than I could use and which lasted for years.
posted by JiBB at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2013

We sprouted mango seeds a few years ago! We planted eight of them (from supermarket mangos we had eaten, even though people told us they might have been treated in such a way that they wouldn't work.) Only three sprouted, and they took 6 months or so to do it. If we were more organised, we would have thrown them out by then, but we hadn't got around to it. Then within two more years they grew into quite tall plants (about two metres tall). Then they all got killed off the year we had a cold winter and didn't use the central heating enough.
posted by lollusc at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2013

I have unsuccessfully tried to grow pineapple, potatoes and tomatos indoor. Green onions will grow well but they quickly lose their flavor after first harvest.
posted by Carius at 3:39 PM on January 10, 2013

Tamarind makes a beautiful plant!

You can also grow lentils (just the regular bagged brown ones from the grocery) in pots as attractively leafy plants, though I tend to eat them as sprouts before they ever get much bigger than an inch or two. (I would guess that many sproutable legumes [adzuki, mung, chickpeas, &c] could be grown ornamentally indoors, at least for a little while.)

Like the key-lime link above, I have grown citrus from seed. I was told that refrigeration is cold enough to kills citrus seeds, so I grew mine from un-fridged fruit; no idea if this is true, but the unrefrigerated seeds all sprouted. In my experience citrus is extremely slow to sprout/grow, however.
posted by Westringia F. at 3:49 PM on January 10, 2013

Relevant post. I recommended this book.
posted by annsunny at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2013

I really love the little lemon trees I've grown from lemon seeds. It wasn't even my idea to plant them, actually -- my kid wanted to try it once a few years ago when we were making lemonade, and I did it to humor him, but now I really like them. They have pretty glossy leaves and grow quickly. (Note, though, that it will take several years for them to fruit, if they will fruit at all, and due to large genetic variations among citrus trees, you are unlikely to get fruit that in any way resembles the fruit you first ate. Grow them from seed to clean the air and look pretty; if you want fruit that's a known quantity, buy a mature dwarf clone of a lemon variety that does well indoors.)

I've also grown sweet potato vines from store-bought sweet potatoes as decorative hanging plants (you'll want to use organic ones, though -- sometimes the non-organic type are treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting).
posted by BlueJae at 9:19 AM on January 11, 2013

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