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How to Grow Fruit Trees in Pots & Containers

Enjoy Your Own Home Grown Fresh Fruit From Trees In Pots And Containers

It's very popular to grow vegetables and herbs in pots if only a small garden or limited outdoor space is available, but less common is growing fruits trees in pots and containers. There's no reason why fruit trees can't be grown in containers and their produce enjoyed from even the smallest garden or outdoor space.

A wide variety of different fruits trees will grow happily in containers and produce good quantities of fruit. Specially developed dwarf and minarette types, grafted onto dwarf root stocks are ideally suited to growing in places where space is limited or where it is not possible to plant trees in the ground. Although some fruit trees are self fertile most will benefit from at least one companion of the same fruit that pollinates at a similar time. This allows the cross pollination that is required for fruit to be produced. If there is only space for the one tree, it is possible to buy trees that have two similar varieties grafted onto the same rootstock. This will in effect make the tree produce two varieties of fruit and self pollinate itself as well.

Choose a good sized pot for your tree, at least 60cm deep to allow for good root growth. If the tree is to serve a decorative purpose in the garden as well as provide fruit, choose a pot that compliments the tree and its surroundings. The type of container you use will depend on your personal taste but there are a few factors to keep in mind. A terracotta pot is attractive but will allow the growing medium to dry out quicker and is more prone to the affects in change of temperature. A glazed pot will retain moisture better and is less affected by temperature changes. If you choose a container that was not purpose-made, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom to prevent the pot becoming waterlogged, potentially damaging or killing the tree.

All fruit trees require good exposure to sunlight and warmth. Position the potted tree in a sunny area, sheltered from strong winds. Alongside a south or westerly facing wall is an ideal spot as the tree will, catch the sun, be sheltered from northerly winds and will take the warmth from the sun that radiates off the wall. To give additional support to the trees, add a stake to each pot and secure the tree to it.

Watering and feeding. Keep the pot well watered and to prevent moisture evaporation, keep the top covered with mulch of bark, or for a more attractive choice use shingle. To check if the pot requires watering, push a finger through the mulch and into the growing medium to check if it is dry or moist. A general purpose organic feed applied from when the tree starts flowering will ensure a good crop, though be careful to not give too much nitrogen, as this will lead to more foliage growth and less fruit. The growing medium will require changing every few years as its nutrients will gradually be taken up by the tree. It may be worthwhile re-potting into a larger container if required.

Fruit trees benefit from pruning. Cut away any deadwood and remove enough branches to allow air to circulate and for the sun to reach all parts of the tree. Ensure a clean cut and ideally avoid pruning in the winter weather to avoid the tree being more prone to disease. Pick the fruit regularly to avoid the branches becoming too heavily laden, reducing the risk of them breaking.

Pests can be a problem. Birds can be the main culprit if you are losing fruit. An easy way to prevent this is to net the tree, physically stopping the birds being able to reach the fruit. A grease band around the trunk of the tree will stop any unwanted creepy crawlies from making their way up your tree and enjoying the fruit for themselves.

Fruit trees in pots and containers can provide structure and a visual attraction to any garden or outdoor space, as well as allowing you to enjoy fresh fruit you have grown yourself.

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jeanne on January 11, 2015:

there are these yellow strips that have adhesive on them , they work great for completely getting rid of gnats in soil without using chemicals. The gnats fly and get stuck on the adhesive where they die.

thatguy on January 11, 2015:

regarding sand gnats, or whatever they are, there are almost always natural alternatives to get rid of them. Garlic/onion/chilli/pepper (chopped finely, not cooked) dissolved in water overnight, strained, then sprayed virtually everywhere may help. Can't hurt - and it saved a plant of mine. There are naturally occurring compounds released by these plants that repulsive to insects and animals alike

min on January 11, 2015:

have a meyer lemon and love the fact that I can bring it inside in winter (now bearing fruit) but it has sand gnats in the soil and I don't know how to get ride of the pests without using chemicals that will end up in my fruit....

Louis Fourie from Johannesburg, South Africa on July 18, 2013:

Have lots of trees in pots and love it, great hub.

Jen Smith (author) from UK on February 28, 2012:

My pleasure - happy growing! :)

Myfanwy from Tennessee, USA on February 27, 2012:

I want to do this. I live in an apartment. But, I love fresh fruit. Thank you for this great information!

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