Meet Monte.

My daughter planted Monte last year when working in a Chicago highrise office. She loves plants as much as I do. I suppose this passion for nature is embedded in our DNA. Anyway, one day she came across a seed while she was eating a grapefruit. She decided to plant it to see what would happen.

As it turns out, grapefruit plants are excellent indoor plants. They are proof positive that you can enjoy the best of all worlds living in a Chicago condominium. You just need to open your eyes.

It was her pride and joy and the envy of her co-workers.  But then she changed jobs and Monte needed a new home.  At first she tried moving Monte to her home. But her cats just wouldn't leave it alone.

So now Monte lives in my condo with me. While I've planted avocados and potato vines I had no idea just how striking grapefruit plants are. The plant's large deep green leaves offer a dramatic accent to any decor.

Grapefruit plants grow very nicely with a little water (over watering will turn the leaves yellow),  MiracleGro and a little fluffing of the soil from time to time especially when you put them in a sunny window. But, they're not entirely self sufficient. They do require a little extra TLC. Two of the biggest problems are

1. Some cats love to chew on the leaves – not all cats, mind you (My own cats, are singularly uninterested in Monte.

2. Grapefruit plants – even if grown indoors – are prone to insects. I have no idea where these pests come from. Insecticidal soap and horticulture oil will resolve this issue. The trick is you can't buy these in small quantities here in the big city; but, that's ok because you may need to apply these remedies several times. The good thing is that the horticultural oil gives the leaves a lovely shine as you can see here.

I took this picture of Monte after the first Chicago snow in January 2012 because it provided such a wonderful contrast. Monte is a very welcome companion to have around during Chicago's dreary winter days.

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