When you picture apple trees, you probably imagine them in cool, hilly areas, certainly not in a city like Bengaluru.

However, 59-year-old Vivek Vilasini, a concept artist and photographer, has managed to grow apples on his balcony in Bengaluru!

Vivek first came across the Anna apple variety at a farm in Southern California, which he wanted to procure for his art project in Munnar.

While he requested the farmers there to export some saplings to India, they could not do so as it was against the law.

“They referred me to a few farms in India that might be growing the same variety and I began reaching out to those. While most farms in North India did not have them, a nursery in Coorg did,” says Vivek.

He planted the saplings in ‘air pots’ — containers with tiny spikes or holes on the sides, allowing air to easily reach the roots and promote healthy growth.

“These pots allow plants to grow faster. Root development of three years can be achieved within two years,” he explains, adding that he first experiments with exotic plants on the balcony in Bengaluru.

The pots ensure that roots do not grow long and are instead pruned on the sides, making them thicker. “This way, while transferring the plant to my farm in Munnar, the tree will have healthy roots and produce fruits faster,” says Vivek.

The pots were filled with a soilless mix of peat, perlite, and manure. He watered the sapling regularly but not excessively since the mix retains a lot of moisture.

In 2020, when the tree was beginning to sprout, Vivek and his wife were in the US and had to extend their stay due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, their friends helped in watering the plants.

“I cannot help anyone financially, but in this way, by writing their exams, I feel like I have contributed a small amount to making someone’s life better. That is my biggest motivation,” she says.

However, despite their size, the fruits were healthy and edible. A gardening enthusiast, Vivek has tried growing over 300 types of fruits so far — including six varieties of avocados and 40 varieties of citrus fruits.