Not only are they a great natural adornment at home, but potted fruit trees can also give you a bountiful harvest all-year-round. You can place them on decking, patio, or even on a balcony — and growing them is surprisingly easy!
If you want to pot your own fruit tree, here are our garden experts’ steps on how to do so:
1. Choosing Smaller Varieties
Full-sized varieties of fruit trees can be challenging to grow in pots — if it is even possible. This means that you should opt for dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit tree types to grow in pots. You just need to keep moving them to larger pots as the trees grow. This will allow your fruit tree to keep growing and producing fruits.
Here are some of the fruit tree varieties you can pot:
Cherries – In growing sweet cherry varieties, you will need to expose your potted fruit trees to lots of sun. Sour varieties, on the other hand, can tolerate more shade. Since they are shallow-rooted, watering cherry trees in their first year and dry spells is a must. Gisela 5 is a good sweet variety while you can choose Colt for the sour cherry.
Apples – Apple varieties that are grafted into dwarf rootstocks work well as potted fruit trees. However, you will need space for more than one apple tree in some varieties as they require cross-pollination. If that’s not possible, you can also opt for self-fertile types in which several varieties are grafted onto the same rootstock.
Plums – Plums need well-draining soil to grow, so it’s best to add perlite or sand into your potting blend. Similar to apples, you should choose a self-fertile variety if you don’t have the space to grow more than one. Pixy is a recommended dwarf variety of plum.
Raspberries – Raspberries come in both summer and autumn-bearing varieties which you can grow in pots. Although not entirely considered a tree, raspberry plants form long canes that can provide a shrubby look when potted. If you have a small space, you can opt for summer-fruiting varieties that are less bushy.
Peaches – Dwarf peaches can be excellent potted fruit trees since you can easily protect their sensitive flowers from cold spells. You should re-pot them every two years. Bonanza, Pixy, and St. Julien are some of the good varieties you can grow.
2. Choosing a Good Container
Squishing a fruit tree into a container smaller than 18 inches in diameter will not help it grow correctly. Cheaper is not always better too. Ideally, you will need a ceramic, high-quality plastic, terra-cotta, or wooden pot that is 20 inches or wider when growing a fruit tree.
If you want a lightweight option, a plastic pot can be a good option as it makes your tree easier to move. Make sure, however, to choose a high-quality type that comes with good drainage holes.
In moving your potted tree, you can also use a dolly or opt for a wheeled planter. You will need to move it into a sheltered area — a garage or shed — during the winter to protect it from the weather and prevent the container from freezing.
Check out our 7 everyday alternatives to plant pots for more ideas.
3. Choosing Appropriate Potting Soil
The success of growing potted fruit trees largely depends on the type of soil you will use. Garden soil is not an ideal choice as it will be too heavy, drains poorly, and can come with insects and weeds.
To create a good-quality potting blend, you can look for excellent nutrients to add into it. Examples are bone meal, blood meal, and bat guano. You can also mix up 1 part sand, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite or vermiculite for a great potting blend.
4. Potting a Fruit Tree
Step 1: Putting soil into your container
Add your potting mix into your container, firm the soil and moisten it slightly. Mound it up in the middle too, to create a base for the roots.
Step 2: Preparing your fruit tree
In removing your tree from its nursery pot, tip it and gently work it loose. Never pull your tree from the branches. Then, tease the roots apart or use a water hose to rinse the soil out of the roots. Trim off damaged or overly long roots if any.
Step 3: Setting the tree
Centre your fruit tree into the mound using a straightedge. Then, drape its roots down around the solid mound. Your tree’s graft union should be placed just above the final level of your soil. You can then adjust the level of the mound accordingly.
Step 4: Backfilling
Once the tree is set, fill your pot with soil — around the roots and up to the graft union. It is best to work as quickly as possible so as not to expose the roots for long.
Step 5: Watering
Water the soil and let it drain. This task will eliminate any air pockets around the roots of your fruit tree. If the soil sets too low, you can add more potting mix and water it anew.
Step 6: Adding support
Young potted fruit trees need sufficient support. You can use bamboo or other stakes as well as a 1×1 trellis anchored to the pot. Then, loosely tie the tree to the support.
You are now ready to take care of your potted fruit trees and expect a bountiful harvest soon! If you want to discover more helpful tips in growing a wide variety of plants and trees, don’t forget to check out our BillyOh blog site.