Jungle on a Windowsill - Growing Tropicals in non-tropical climates

Q: If you have any information on maintaining all the plants that I purchased, please let me know. I live in Upstate NY. I'm hoping to keep them indoors or in a Greenhouse until next spring.

A: You can grow our tropical plants indoors or in a green house during winter and treat them as regular house plants. Make sure to provide enough light and reduce watering during winter, and do not fertilize till spring... But this is not all of it!

DIY Mini FLorida

Most of tropical plants hate cold winter.
Most of tropical plant lovers live in areas where winter is cold...
So, what can be done?

One possible solution is to move to Sunny Florida. The problem is Florida is getting crowded and it’s getting harder and harder to find an affordable place where one can grow tropical plants with no limits... And Florida is the place where we have hurricanes. Some people even prefer winter to hurricanes (matter of personal taste, ah?). So, another solution must be found. If the mountain is not coming to Mahomet, Mahomet should come to the mountain, and Florida should come to you. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

Here we’ll try to explain how to make your own MINI-FLORIDA in your basement on a window sill. You don't have to spend thousands on dollars on it (better spend money buying plants, right?)

Let’s start from the basics. What do tropical plants like? Warmth, humidity and sun.
So, you need to provide all of these for them. While providing warmth is more or less easy (crank up your thermostat or install extra heater), providing humidity and light is more complicated.

Tropical Treasures Magazine
The first magazine about growing tropicals in non-tropical climate!

Plants growings on windowsill


Selected articles:

Growing tropicals in a Greenhouse (by Cindy Adair, VA)

How do I grow these plants....

We have an average low temperature of 20 degrees here, but it has hit zero.

Initially I grew everything under 1 south facing window and a large skylight. I used the stackable plastic shelves and trays under each pot and started seeds with florescent lights
rigged with chains and S hooks to the shelves. I managed pretty well until my chocolate tree reached to my ceiling and having always wanted a greenhouse, decided it was time.

We built an attached 12x20 redwood and glass one from a "Santa Barbara" greenhouse kit, getting help to convert a living room window to a door. With a then 1 year old and 2 other children, I needed to be in the next room, not leaving him alone in the house! My youngest is now 8 and we have a 2nd greenhouse, freestanding, "Lord and Burnham", 14x16 aluminum and glass. Someone was going to tear it down so we couldn't resist buying it cheaply and moving it and all 75 panes of glass...

I'm able to keep the temperatures between 52 and 90 with solar vent openers, fans, shade cloth part of the year and use electric heat in 1 and natural gas in the other. Unfortunately, I acquired a single orchid and now my original greenhouse is full of orchids, so I still don't have nearly enough room! My husband and I are full-time veterinarians and business owners so as much as I love my plants I know I can't manage a 3rd greenhouse in my 3/4 acre suburban backyard! Eventually I'll fix a gutter system and add supplemental lighting so I can have a lower level of plants in both greenhouses, but no time this year!

Oh, we do have a trellis with 4 large benches where the vanda orchids and all the tropicals spend late May until mid October. Until I get a swamp cooler, the freestanding greenhouse gets too hot for year round use. I got my 1st 4 Cinnamon seeds this year. Yes, I'll have to plant them even though I have 2 C. zeylanicums and 2 cassia cinnamons already. I get a few Mangoes and a few macadamias, some vanilla beans, lots of citrus and coffee cherries among others, but I'm obviously very patient so look forward to allspice berries and cashews and
many other tropical fruits and spices in the future!

I guess you can relate to being a bit passionate about plants...

Photo by Galka Okhapkina
2004 Garden Contest || 2005 Garden Contest