Bet you’ve never heard of bananas, coconuts or even pineapples being grown in Saskatchewan?
Shelly and Rick Gerein, operators of Gerein’s Greenhouse near Scott, just couldn’t shut the door and walk away after almost 25 years of operating a retail greenhouse with the help of Rick's parents. They have kept one greenhouse running since shuttering operations in 2007, just for their own enjoyment.
The Gereins have created a tropical place to escape on any day, but especially when the long cold winter arrives. While Shelly says they have gifted some of the plants, this new adventure is mainly for their own enjoyment.
Their oasis includes several banana, coconut, lemon, olive and avocado and coffee trees, as well as pineapples, cactus, succulents and many more interesting specimens.
Gerein says Rick researched these tropical plants and attended greenhouse grower seminars focussing on tropicals. He learned about fertilizers as well as disease and insect control. They have learned that one of the most important things in maintaining their tropical oasis is the quality of the water, therefore they installed a reverse osmosis system.
“It is always fun to see that we can grow bananas and pineapple and they taste so good,” Shelly says.
She says they also enjoy seeing cacti bloom, but those blossoms last only a day.
“One really unique plant we have is called the Corpse Plant (Titan arum). (It) grows on a somewhat green stalk that branches into three sections at the top, each containing many leaflets. Then that will die back and it will then flower, which is beautiful but it smells absolutely horrible. After that it will completely die back and go dormant and do it all over again in about four months.”
“We are always looking for unique plants to add to our jungle,” Shelly notes.
Tropical plants take patience, Shelly observes, as lemons, for example, take about 18 months to produce.
The space allows the occasional safe, distanced visit from family and friends.
Gerein says they have been approached by people wanting to purchase fruit, but affirms there is not an abundant amount. They do, however, have a saskatoon berry and cherry orchard where people come to pick. Some berry pickers have toured and enjoyed the greenhouse.
Their biggest takeaway and reward from growing such unique plants in Saskatchewan is that it offers a great escape from the long winter months.
For those interested in growing unusual plants indoors in the winter Shelly says, “Higher humidity is beneficial. Don’t use tap water; melting snow for watering is best.”