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How to Grow Fruit Trees in Containers

We tend to think of fruit-growing in terms of orchards or groves spread over large areas. However it is actually possible to grow fruit trees in pots or containers as well. Several types of fruit can be grown in pots. Some varieties tend to flourish better than others. We look at how people without the luxury of space, can also grow container fruit trees.

Choosing the Type of Container

You can choose from wooden, clay or plastic. Wood may rot over time; so may not be the best option. Plastic is lightweight and durable, but it tends to heat up. Clay is a good option because of stability, but clay pots can be heavy and will have to be checked for bacteria, salt or fertilizer buildup. A 15 gallon pot with a 10 to 15 inch diameter is usually a good bet for growing fruit trees. Some experts advise the use of a Versailles planter (with removable sides) for citrus trees – this facilitates removal of soil without having to lift out the entire plant.

Choosing the Type of Fruit Tree

Apples, both culinary (Howgate Wonder and Arthur Turner are good bets) and for eating (Pixie, Sunset, Fiesta, Greensleeves, etc.) can be cultivated in pots. Apricot varieties such Chippewa and Northsky and fig varieties such as White Marseilles and Brunswick can too be grown in pots.

Fruit such as blueberries, cherries, olives and grapes can also be grown in containers. You just need to make sure that you use hardy varieties. Varieties such as Seyval Blanc or New York Muscat (grapes), Lapins, Sunburst and Stella (cherries), etc., work well.

Peaches, pears, plums and nectarines also grow well in pots. Dwarf lime trees and other varieties of lime also can be grown in containers. Ideally pick varieties that are self fertile and which do not require pollinators.

Other Considerations

Whatever type of container you use, make sure it has good drainage and is an adequate size for the type of tree you’re planting. Use good quality compost when planting the trees in containers. Position the containers in a way that the tree gets maximum sunlight. Optimum watering is important – the soil should become dry between watering, but not bone dry.

It’s a good idea to re-pot every alternate year and also prune the roots periodically.

Fruit trees in containers can be pruned and trained in much the same way as you would prune fruit trees that grow in the ground.

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