|B. Rosie Lerner|
Instead of throwing out that pineapple top, turn it into a houseplant! Carrot tops and avocado pits can also be salvaged from the garbage pail to the ranks of houseplants.
To grow a pineapple, cut off the leafy top, leaving about a one-fourth inch of the fruit attached. Scoop out the pulp and let the top air dry for a few days. Then, press the top into a pot or pan of moistened rooting media, such as vermiculite or perlite. Keep the media moist at all times, and, in about a month or two, roots should begin to form. Then repot the top into potting soil and place in a sunny windowsill.
Carrot plants can also be started from what we usually throw away. Cut off three-fourths to 1 inch of the top of the root with the green stalks attached. Set in a shallow pan of moistened rooting media, and wait for the new fibrous roots to develop.
Avocado pits are yet another plant to rescue from the garbage pail. Wash the pit to remove the fruit pulp, and then bury the bottom (wider) half of the pit in moistened rooting media. Another method used by many gardeners is to insert four toothpicks at quarterly intervals about halfway up the pit. The toothpicks should only be inserted as deeply as necessary to provide support. Place the pit into a glass of water with the broad end down, resting the toothpicks on the rim of the glass. Roots and eventually a shoot can take up to three months to appear. Repot into potting soil with the top of the pit exposed, and pinch off the tip of the shoot when it reaches about 6 inches in length. Several side branches will form along the remaining stem.
Fruit trees, such as apple, orange and cherry, can be grown from the seeds of ordinary fruit. Keep in mind that the resulting plants will likely be of inferior quality compared to the plant that produced that tasty fruit. If you are seriously interested in quality fruit production, it is best to plant quality nursery stock of known cultivars. However, seedling fruit plants can make fun houseplants or novelty yard plants.
Most tree seeds must be stored in cool, moist conditions for up to three months before they will sprout. Pack the seeds in moist vermiculite, peat moss or sand. Then plant the seeds in good-quality potting soil. Move the plants to a brightly lit area, such as a south-facing window, and water as needed to allow the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Use a houseplant fertilizer according to label directions. When plants are large enough to survive transplanting outdoors, plant the seedling trees in a sunny, well-drained location. Most fruit trees take many years (up to 7 or more) to become mature enough to flower, particularly when grown from seed. Many fruit species need to be cross-pollinated by another cultivar of that fruit, so it is best to grow a few of each type.