February 8, 2014

1 - You can combine some vegetables and tropical fruit plants in a greenhouse if you consider the requirements of the plants.

Yard and Garden February 8, 2014


We were thinking of buying a hothouse. Can fruits and vegetables be grown together? What temperatures can tropical fruits withstand?

Hilary M.


Yes, you can grow many fruits and vegetables in the same greenhouse. Success will depend on which fruits and vegetables you want to grow. Tomatoes, chiles, cucumbers, melons, and some other vegetables will grow well in the same temperatures preferred by citrus and other tropical plants. These plants prefer temperatures above 60 degrees at night and up to 80 or 85 degrees during the day. They will tolerate higher temperatures during the day, but higher temperatures are not optimal. They can also tolerate brief periods of temperatures below even 40 degrees at night, but do best if such low temperatures are avoided.

If you want to grow bananas, mangos, guavas, and other tropical fruits that require temperatures that rarely drop into the 60 degree range, you must select warm growing vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and chiles.

Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, lettuce, and peas will do best at lower temperatures. They can also be grown with some tropical fruits. Citrus will tolerate lower winter temperatures that favor these cooler growing vegetables. Figs can be grown in a very cold greenhouse, even tolerating slight freezing if they are allowed to go dormant and drop their leaves before experiencing freezing. However, at temperatures appropriate for the cooler growing vegetables, they can even retain their leaves and remain healthy.

Combining fruit and vegetable plants in a home greenhouse is a good way to extend your gardening season producing common garden vegetables during the winter, transplants for the summer garden, and also producing some fruits that you could not otherwise grow in New Mexico.

You can also consider growing herbs in the greenhouse with tropical fruit. Thyme, chives, rosemary, cilantro, and other culinary herbs can be added to your greenhouse garden.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook) page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!