March has been a strange season around the world. In the Northern hemisphere, spring is just beginning, and in the Southern hemisphere, Autumn is beginning. As people shelter in place all over the world, one of the big questions many people are asking themselves is “What can we do at home?” If you are not in the habit of being within your own four walls all day, or on your own acreage, that can be a big question.
One possible answer is to garden or to grow something. Trees are often associated with gardening outside, but they can often be grown as indoor plants, as well. No matter where you grow them, they require maintenance. Autumn is a good season for thinking about maintaining your outdoor trees. It can also be a good time for starting container plants for indoor enjoyment.
Here are a few ideas for autumn tree maintenance and growth:
- Clean up leaf, seed, and seedpod debris from trees in your yard area. Not only does it make your autumn and winter garden area look tidier, it is one small step that you can take toward fire prevention. While certainly not a cure-all, it can help.
- Trim and prune trees that benefit from this treatment, that are growing into the wrong places, or that are beginning to look a little scraggly. Trees that might need this include: Glauca grass trees, dragon trees, Tahitian lime trees, avocado trees, and olive trees, to name just a few.
- Test the soil around your trees. Is your soil delivering the right stuff, or do your trees need a little bit of a boost? For example, glauca grass trees need a special mycorrhiza in their growing medium to thrive. Avocados need a well-aerated soil. Fortunately, both olive trees and bottle trees are far less picky about where they are planted.
- Use trimmings to start new trees. Olive trees, Queensland bottle trees, avocado trees, Tahitian lime trees, and even Dragon trees can be grown from cuttings. Alternatively, the cuttings can be grafted onto prepared root stocks.
- Prepare seed or plant seed. Glauca grass trees can be grown from seed. They are delicate to transplant, and are somewhat picky about the growing process, but it is possible.
- Check your trees for problems such as insect depredation. Most of the trees from our nursery are resistant to insects, but that doesn’t mean that each species doesn’t have its vulnerabilities. Autumn is a good time to do some trouble-shooting so that you can have a fresh start in the spring.
Some trees, such as olive or Tahitian lime trees, might have ripening fruit which will need to either be harvested or cleaned up so as to not attract insects. There is nothing quite like walking out into your backyard and picking a few things for dinner to lift the heart.
If you do not have an area outside in which to grow plants, now is a good time to start your own little mini forest indoors. Dragon trees are an almost foolproof first container tree. They require very little watering, modest feeding, and can withstand a great deal of neglect.
Tahitian limes are another good container tree, especially the dwarf varieties. If you get one that has been grafted, you might even be able to harvest some fruit off it in a year or two. While you are unlikely to obtain any fruit off an olive tree grown indoors, they can be made into incredibly beautiful bonsai. Now might be a good time to start an interesting hobby revolving around growing container trees.
While there is no evidence that growing trees indoors will deal with viruses or similar contaminants, there have been several studies that indicate that trees can help clear indoor air of chemical outgassing from modern construction materials. By growing trees in containers, you create the potential for leanin
Most of all, trees, even if they are in containers, bring something living and green into your home. They create a connection with the living world. Gardening and growing things is very much a process. Trees, by their size and inclination, are perennials. They require patient maintenance, some understanding of each species needs, but not a lot of day-to-day cultivation. Most of them can stand a little neglect and still maintain their beauty. From them, we can learn the lesson of endurance, resilience and connection.