How to Grow Fruit Trees in Pots

Growing fruit trees in pots is an option for anyone but especially for people who enjoy eating fresh fruits but lack yard space. Most pots and other containers are portable and sized for balconies, patios or apartments. Fruit trees that thrive in containers offer a broad selection of popular fruits: peaches, apples, pears, plums, olives, figs, persimmons, lemons, limes, nectarines and tangerines.

Choose Trees

When choosing fruit trees for potting, consider each tree's size, pollination needs and temperature requirements. Standard-size and semi-dwarf fruit trees require more space than is typically available on patios or balconies. Those trees suffer in containers and produce few fruits.

Dwarf fruit trees, however, are grafted and groomed by growers to thrive in pots. Although they do not produce the quantities of fruits of standard-size trees, dwarf trees produce respectable amounts of full-size fruits to reward your efforts.

Some fruit trees require a compatible tree nearby for cross-pollination to produce fruits. Ask the grower to suggest dwarf trees that are self-pollinating. Self-pollinating trees produce fruits on their own.

Purchase fruit trees suitable for your climate. Low-chill varieties can overwinter indoors and later produce fruits, but certain other trees need a number of ** below 45 degrees Fahrenheit** to complete their growth cycle and produce fruits.

Plant catalogs and nurseries sell dwarf fruit trees. When purchased from a catalog, trees are shipped bare root. Trees from nurseries typically have burlap around their root balls. Some nursery trees come in containers. Choose potted trees that are not root-bound and in need of immediate repotting.

Choose trees with symmetrical branches around their trunks, and avoid trees with broken branches or roots.

Choose Pots

Containers come in all sizes and materials. Choose pots based on their beauty, durability, shape, size and weight. Ensure, though, that each container has four to six drainage holes in its bottom for excess water to seep. Wooden containers eventually rot, and clay pots grow fungi and bacteria. Terracotta and ceramic vessels can be attractive but heavy. Synthetic or plastic pots are economical and lightweight on their own but may not be aesthetically pleasing.

A 15-gallon container, large enough for a 5-foot-tall tree, is a suitable size. If the location where a potted tree will be is subject to wind, then plant that tree in a square, box-shaped planter because it offers stability. A rounded pot can tip during wind gusts.

Consider using planters with wheels so you can move the potted trees easily. The sum of a tree, its 15-gallon container and soil may weigh between roughly 70 and 125 pounds.

Plant the Trees

Assemble planting supplies at the location of the fruit trees and the containers in which you will plant them. Put each tree in its own pot.

Step 1 Prepare Containers

Place small pieces of mesh screen over the bottom drainage holes inside each container. The screen helps to keep soil from washing out of the pots. Partially fill each container with commercial potting soil. When a fruit tree and its roots eventually sit on this initial soil base and then additional soil is added, the tree should be at its recommended or previous soil depth.

Step 2 Add Trees

Remove burlap from each tree's root ball, if necessary, and spread the roots across the soil in the tree's respective pot. If a tree was root-bound in its nursery container, loosen the roots with your fingers, giving them space and air.

Step 3 Fill and Water

Finish filling each pot with soil to a level 1 to 4 inches below the rim of the container. Water the soil slowly, allowing it to soak to the roots.

Care for the Trees

Fruit trees typically benefit from the maximum amount of sunlight possible, at least six hours of direct sun exposure daily. Follow the grower's recommendations based on the variety of tree. The information may be included with the trees or available from the seller.

Water the fruit trees' soil only as needed; do not overwater the trees. Allow the top 4 to 5 inches of soil to dry before watering. Then water slowly, down to the root balls.