Container-friendly subtropical fruit? (grow light in winter)

Hey all,

I’m exploring what fruits I might be able to zone push (in z7a) with the help of an indoor grow light for winter. Generally looking for plants that can tolerate at least 30 degrees so I can keep them outside for 9 months of the year, though I’d consider things that can only tolerate just above freezing.

Since these will be getting moved inside they need to stay under 8 feet or so (or be amenable to pruning).

So far I’ve added feijoas and a Strawberry Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae) to my collection. Was thinking of adding achacha, but I’m not sure how they do with pruning since I know they can get quite tall.

Anyone know of other fruits to consider?

How big of a container are you willing to haul in and out each year? My suggestion, due to my own obsession, would be trying a hardy avocado variety like Duke or Mexicola, but avocados like to spread surface roots and need fairly large containers (25g+) and a good combination of well-draining potting mix and regular watering. Some commercial orchards prune to around 8’ for easier harvest, so that part shouldn’t be a problem.

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Most of your mandarin trees and satsumas are cold hardy below mid 20’s. Fukushu kumquat, New Zealand lemonade, Hardy Chicago fig con grow outdoors and will not die back 10F or above and will set a spring breba crop if the winter temps stay above 15F. Ten degree tangerine 2-2 can survive outside down to 10F and it will ripen fruits before your first frost.


I’d absolutely love to grow avocado but 25+ is a bit big for me :laughing:. I’m planning on my next property being large enough to house a Chinese greenhouse and avocados are the number one thing on my list for when that happens.


Excellent suggestions!!

Didn’t realize there were such great dwarf citrus out there. Absolutely going to get a kumquat and NZL. Going to do some more research into yuzu to make sure it would be worth the wait to grow out, 8 years to fruit for many people, but love having even more potential options.

I have a whole row of some 20 figs lining my driveway and beyond now :laughing:, including a chicago hardy and a bunch of other supposedly great ones for the cold.

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Feel free to reach out then if you want scions of obscure Mexican varieties! Always happy to share.


Mangos. Look for dwarf grafted varieties from pine island nursery, my suggestion is lemon meringue or “po pyu kalay”
They can be grown in a 25 gallon container

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The Millenial Gardner is growing citrus in ground in your zone.

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Mangos generally hate their life, if not outright die, when temps dip below 40, and are some of the pickiest when it comes to humidity. They start dropping leaves when humidity starts falling somewhere below 37%. I’d very much consider them a tropical, and a finicky one at that (they even complain about relatively soft tap water!). I say all the above from experience, unfortunately.

I’ll be trying them again once I get a proper greenhouse, but I would heavily advise against them for anyone else even close to my zone :cry:. They’re probably my favorite fruit so I hope to make them work eventually.


Got a whole batch of citrus that are doing very well! Keeping everything on a flying dragon rootstock is keeping them nice and small so they can fit in my grow room during winter :slightly_smiling_face:

Fwiw MG is in 8a, significantly warmer than the 7a here, but I do love looking at him for inspiration. I don’t think I could get away with good in-ground citrus like he does.

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Mangos are the easiest thing Ive ever grown in south florida. They love crappy sandy soil and neglect. Literally dig a hole in dirt during rainy season and throw it in. Ive moved around mango trees in ground ripping the tap root and they reroot happily wherever I put them.

I knew a GW forum member in Northern Florida Orlando area “puglvr” who grew them in ground and topped them completely about a a foot above the graft to over winter them.

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Also as far as humidity there are distinct Indian varieites that hate humidity and SE Asian varieties.

The Ataulfo mangos that grow in Mexico do very poorly in sub tropical South Florida. They cant grow Haas avocado types either.

Anyway growing subtropical fruit trees in containers is basically how I started gardening.

Some suggestions are passionfruit vines, dwarf bananas, Anona family sugar apples like Kampong Mauve was always highly productive in containers and you self pollinate them. Carambola, dwarf june plum can practically fruit themselves to death in containers. And my favorite fruit tree ever Jaboticaba.

Avocados are huge trees. Its one of the last things Id grow in a container.


Interesting to hear about the difference in humidity requirements between cultivars, I’ll be on the lookout for those once I get that proper greenhouse.

As-is though I’ve just recognized they’re too hard to grow here between their high minimum temperatures, their seeming hatred of our tap water, and their general size. Even keeping the dwarf varieties I got in pretty small containers, they clearly wanted to grow larger, to a point that would be a pain for me to move in and out of my grow room. I’m very motivated to try again in larger pots once I get the greenhouse and don’t have to move them around.

I’m also planning on rainwater catchment systems next year to hopefully keep things like mangos much happier :slightly_smiling_face:

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My advice would be to buy a bunch of ataulfo or champagne mangos if you see them in stores, the little yellow sour ones.

Those are polyembeyonic and will come true from seed and like drier climates. Very easy to grow.

The red mangos you get whether tommy atkins keitt or kent are monoembryonic and will give you a wild mango with who knows charecteristics


I’ve been growing Cherry of the Rio Grande,in a pot,here in zone 8,for about two years.Once mature,they’re suppose to survive 20F.
There are no fruit yet and the plant is more like a shrub.Mine is kept in a lightly heated greenhouse,under lights,in the cold months.

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I’m a beginner with mango. But mine have survived humidities way below 37 % in my greenhouse and that’s with temperatures near 100. And they survive in CA where average lows in winter drop below 40F. They can die in winter there especially when the soil is too wet. I expect them to survive the chill cycle in my greenhouse. That’s 45 days with roughly 40 low and 50-70 high.

I will admit they have been a lot more difficult to grow than the stone fruit I’m used to growing. Despite that I’ve gotten 5-7 flushes on rootstock mango started from seed in December. They’ll be big enough to graft next summer. Really, they’re big enough right now. The mango rootstocks I had a couple of years ago kept growing all winter long right through the same chill cycle. Those died later on when my heater went out and it dropped to 17. That didn’t work. I’m putting in a second heater for backup.

My greenhouse is 90-100 for a high on about 300 days a year. So the soil doesn’t get too cold during the chill cycle needed by stonefruits. Nights do get chilly but I plan to use that to slow down the mango if needed. Nights below 60 favor blooming. Nights above 60 favor vegetative growth.

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