How To Take Care Of Your Ice Cream Bean (Inga edulis)

An evergreen in the legume family, the aptly named Ice Cream Bean is native to South America and is ideal due to its easy care and foliage indoors as a houseplant or due to its shading and fruit-bearing abilities, perfect for outdoor warmer, sheltered spots in New Zealand.

Outdoors, these tropical fruit trees have bean pods that can

grow up to a metre in length and the white flesh inside resembles candyfloss, yet tastes like vanilla ice cream! This makes them a favourite with little kids and….dare we say it….big kids too!

They come into season between May and July, taking around 3 years to bear fruit. The seeds must be cooked and can be used as a vegetable.

How much light does your Ice Cream Bean need?

Indoors, a warm, filtered sunny position is best. Outdoors they enjoy the light and warmth provided by the sun, but should certainly be kept in a sheltered, frost-free spot until they have hardened up.

What type of soil does your Ice Cream Bean need?

If kept indoors as a houseplant, provide a good quality, well-draining soil. Outside, whilst they will tolerate most types of soil, they will give the best results in a sandy or loamy well-drained soil.

 What temperature is best for your Ice Cream Bean?

As a houseplant, a range of 10-30C is fine. Outdoors, they are suited to warm temperate climates, protected from frosts or severe bouts of cold weather until they are a few years old.

How much water does your Ice Cream Bean need?

Not as sensitive as other houseplants to dry or wet conditions, it is still best to keep them moist, allowing to dry out between waterings.

If planted or transplanted outdoors, they will require regular watering in Summer and strangely enough, can even tolerate extremes of drought and flooding, but again, it is best to stick to a satisfactory watering regime throughout the year of more in Summer, less in Winter.

What is the best fertiliser for your Ice Cream Bean?

An organic, slow-release fertiliser is best indoors, while in the outdoor situation, older manure or an organic mix is ideal. The area around the trunk can be mulched.

General Care Tips for your Ice Cream Bean.

Minimal pruning is required, but do remove any dead leaves. Quite hardy, any pests like mealy bugs can be removed with wiping the leaves and branches with a wet cloth or by using Neem oil.

Outdoors, they grow quickly in the right conditions and are useful in providing shade and shelter for other fruit or nut trees.

The Green Grower’s Rating of the Ice Cream Bean.

The name alone makes it popular! Add to that its relatively easy care, attractive foliage and that it can be transplanted outdoors and therefore utilised for ‘yummie’ food and perfect shelter, it’s an ideal addition, indoors or out.


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