The tropical food plants of the Heartland Harvest Garden are safely tucked away for the winter in the greenhouses….
Papayas (Carica papaya) are palm-shaped perennials that become tree-like over time. Seed planted last spring are producing some handsome plants that have begun to flower profusely.
It’s a girl! For some reason most of our papaya seed has produced only male plants, but finally our first FEMALE papaya! The female papaya flowers are larger and hug the stem so that the large fruit can be held sturdy against the “trunk” of the plant. You can already see a fruit forming on the right side.
Male papayas have clusters of yellow flowers that are quite handsome. All these papayas are scheduled to be planted in the Fun Food Section of the Heartland Harvest Garden next spring — look for them near the large corn crib.
The Pineapples (Ananas comosus) had a good year and grew profusely. They are a species of bromeliad that originated in Southern Brazil and Paraguay but are extensively grown in Hawaii.
Our Pineapples are setting flower buds to produce real pineapples next summer. These too will be planted in the Fun Food section of the Heartland Harvest Garden.
Key Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is in bloom along with many of our citrus. I can’t wait to have fresh limes next year but key lime blooms are NOT fragrant like other citrus blossoms.
Our Banana collection (these are all different types of bananas!) keeps growing and next season should really put on quite a show in the Heartland Harvest Garden. HHG Horticulturist Matt Bunch has designed some really interesting themes for next summer’s displays: food plants will be grouped into the four major regions of the world where they originated: Southeast Asia (where the bananas will be along with citrus), Americas (potatoes, tomatoes, corn, avocados, chocolate…), Mediterranean and Northern Eurasian themes.
All the above images were taken in our greenhouse complex which is not open to the public but you can see some of our major tropical plants (bananas, cacao/chocolate, oranges, coffee, black pepper, cinnamon, etc.) on display in the Seed to Plate Greenhouse in the Heartland Harvest Garden.