Did you know that you can grow almost any fruit, vegetable or herb indoors? The iHarvest is an indoor hydroponic garden, so I was surprised the first few times I was asked whether it was possible to grow certain fruits, vegetables and herbs at different indoor temperatures.
It turns out that many of our customers keep their homes at or around 70˚F all year, but others have much more diverse indoor temperature ranges. I live in Southern California, where many who live near the coast do not have air conditioning. I’m one of those people, so my indoor temperatures can spike to 80 degrees or more during summer afternoons. There are many other examples I’ve heard from people. Sometimes a spouse likes to keep it especially warm or cold, or an individual decides to use as little energy as possible on heat and air conditioning. In any event, you don’t have to worry. You can grow almost any fruit, vegetable or herb indoors.
Let’s take lettuce for example – Lettuce generally prefers cooler temperatures. At temperatures consistently above 75˚F, lettuce becomes more prone to flower (or bolt) as it ages. This will cause the lettuce to taste bitter. But not all lettuce varieties are quite the same. Butterhead lettuce, which is very popular among hydroponic enthusiasts, typically does well between 45 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Romaine and other leafy lettuce types tend to do better at higher temperatures as well. Almost all seed packages have optimum growing temperatures on them, so if you’re ever in doubt, just turn the seed package around and check for yourself to be sure.
Another great example is hot peppers. I love jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, habanero peppers and more. Hot peppers typically prefer hot temperatures, between 70 – 85 degrees, to produce fruit. I’ve definitely noticed that they grow much more prolifically in my small, unconditioned apartment during the summer. But they do not hesitate to grow well during the winter when my temperature averages a bit under 70˚F.
Long story short, when it comes to temperature preferences, plants are not that different from humans. Most prefer tolerable temperatures somewhere around 70 degrees, while some prefer it a bit warmer and others prefer it a bit cooler. But if we are subjected to tolerable temperatures, we can make the best of it. The next time you’re wondering if you can grow a plant indoors because of the temperature, you can assume you can. Or, just check out the recommended temperatures on the back of the seed packet to be certain.