Alaska is known for its cold temperatures, but it’s possible to bring a piece of the tropics to your Alaska home year-round.

Tropical fruit plants, like pineapple and lemon, can be grown outside during the summer months. They thrive at temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees. However, they need to stay in pots so that they can be brought inside at the start of fall when temperatures begin to drop.

Tropical plants will get enough light outside in the summer, but they’ll need about 10-18 hours under a fluorescent grow light in the winter. Make sure you don’t overwater tropical plants — they don’t like to be soggy. Overwatering is a common mistake and if the leaves are yellow or wilted, you’re watering too much. Once per week during the summer is good — or whenever the soil is dry — less than that in winter.

Some tropical plants, like citrus, produce fruit sporadically throughout the year. It takes 6 to 12 months to go from blossom to fruit. Other plants, like pineapple and bananas, will take several years before they’re mature enough to produce fruit. The parent plant will produce one round of fruit and then die. However, new baby plants called “pups” will then begin growing, eventually producing more fruit.

Mile 5.2 Greenhouse in Eagle River specializes in exotic, tropical plants. For more information, visit their website.

KTVA’s Rachael Penton can be reached by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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