Q: I'm getting started with the idea of houseplants and maybe an indoor vertical garden for herbs. It seems to me, though, that if I'm going to grow something, why not make it a food plant? What other edible indoor plants can I grow?
A: I love this idea! And I adore decorating with houseplants — big ones especially. Treat them like any other accessory, by grouping them in threes, using a variety of sizes, and using them in more than one place in your room. And don't be afraid of getting rid of them if they become unhealthy. Keep them only if you love them.
With the right care and environment, just about any plant that grows outdoors can produce food indoors. With so many variables — from how much light the plants need to the right soil to the type of container — I can't describe it all in this one column. Start with some research on your own. Look at gardening websites and Pinterest, and save images of plants you find beautiful or appealing. Decorating with plants is not expensive, especially when you buy them small, or grow them from seed. Eventually you'll have a big, dramatic statement plant.
Avocados can thrive indoors, even if they may never produce avocados you can eat. Ringing a pit with toothpicks and setting it into a water glass is a classic and rewarding activity for you and any kiddos in your life as you watch roots grow and leaves sprout. Clean off the pit thoroughly and change the water frequently, and don't be disappointed if you get a dud that doesn't grow. But, outside, they are very large trees. Look for a miniature tree start at a nursery if you want your best chance for new avocados to eat.
Other classic indoor fruit plants are citrus, including lemon and orange trees. Also consider a kumquat, which is like a miniature orange. The tree produces lots of tiny oval fruit about the size of acorns. Garlic, shallots, and small onions seem to sprout nicely in the refrigerator, so plant those and see what happens. Even if they don't produce new bulbs, you can trim the green part as garnish. Chives, from seeds, along with other herbs, may do well indoors. Vertical gardens as a wall of mixed herbs is a growing trend, too, especially for small spaces. Shop for kits online or make your own!