11 Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in Pots - Backyard Boss
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11 Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in Pots

Gardening is a great way to get outdoors and connect with nature, even if you don’t have a lot of room. Growing fruit trees in pots provides satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. With just a bit of knowledge and some careful tending, you too can grow delicious fruits right at home. Read on for 11 tips for growing fruit trees in pots and turn your green dreams into a reality!

Choose the Right Variety

Close up image of black olives on an olive tree branch
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If you want to ensure success, choose a tree that will grow well in a pot.

Luckily, there are many varieties and cultivars that are self-fertile and don’t need another tree or pollinators to help propagate. You can grow the following plants in pots with significant results such as:

  • ‘Moorpark’ apricots
  • ‘Chippewa’ blueberries
  • ‘Stella’ cherries
  • ‘Early River’ nectarines
  • ‘Olea europaea’ olives
  • ‘Victoria’ plums
  • ‘New York Muscat’ grapes

A note on self fertile trees: Self-fertile fruit trees like peaches, nectarines, and apricots, don’t need another tree to produce fruits. However, they will need extra help with pollination. You can do this yourself by simply transferring the pollen between flowers using a soft brush or cotton swab!

Choose a Pot

Asparagus Ferns soil requirements
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Clay pots are heavier and more stable than plastic ones, but plastic pots are more durable and much lighter, making them easier to manage.

When it comes to selecting a home for your fruit trees start by choosing a pot that is around 4 inches in diameter. As your tree grows, its roots will expand. You will need to repot it as needed into larger pots. Each fruit tree grows at a different pace, however, you will probably end up with a pot 20 inches in diameter.

Use good quality frost-resistant material which won’t break apart easily and damage your tree. Also, pick a pot with drainage holes at the bottom. If waterlogged, your tree will suffer and could quickly die.

Get the Right Soil

Gardening soil
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If you’re looking to grow a fruit tree in a pot, choose the right soil mix. A good container mix ensures thorough soaking.

A combination of peat moss or rotted pine bark, sand, perlite, compost, dolomite lime, and Osmocote 17-6-10 is ideal for most potted fruit trees.

Plant Your Tree

Olive tree in a terra cotta pot
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Planting in late spring (March or April) is the best time of year, as it gives the roots plenty of time to settle into their new home before the heat of summer arrives.

Start by filling half of the pot with soil and gently tamping it down. If you’re planting a previous bare-rooted tree into a pot (a tree that was planted in the ground,) trim the roots by about 2 inches. Then spread them out around the sides of the pot before placing the trunk at the same depth it was previously growing in.

If you have container-grown trees, loosen, and remove some of the soil from the root ball before settling it into place in its new home.

Cover the roots with soil and continue to spread them in the pot. Lightly shake the tree to fill the spaces between the roots. Place 1 inch of soil on top of the roots and firm it lightly — but don’t pack down too hard!

Finally, water well so that all the contents inside your pot are moist. If you’ve planted your fruit tree in springtime, keep it in shade for a few days until it’s settled in.

Water

Rustic watering can sitting on a table in the sunlight
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In the early spring, when temperatures are still cool, start watering your tree once the 2 top inches of surface are dry. As temperatures increase through summer, water more often as needed. Check the soil moisture level before watering and if it’s still wet, don’t add more! Typically watering once a week will suffice but always adjust your watering scheduling according to your plants needs.

Additionally, placing the pot on top of a tray filled with water can help keep your fruit tree moist and cool on hot summer days. However, if there is a long period of wet weather, remove the tray. Your tree could end up sitting in water, which can lead to root rot.

Fertilizer

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Monthly feeding is vital for maintaining healthy production throughout the year. When picking fertilizer, you can go with one-size-fits-all or opt for something suggested by the tree supplier.

Cut back on nitrogen during fall and winter so you don’t encourage fresh growth that won’t last long. If your potting mix includes slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote, this should last several months

Light

Peach Tree in the Sun
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Give your fruit tree plenty of sunshine by rotating the pot frequently so that you expose different sides to sun and warmth. This will help ensure even and shapely growth. Plus, a sunny spot out in the garden or on your patio will make for a beautiful display too!

Overwintering

Tree in pot is wrapped in fleece for the winter. Autumn work in the garden. Hydrangea, the flowers and leaves are removed.
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To ensure your apple and cherry trees thrive and give you delicious fruit each year, overwintering them is essential. The trick is to provide them with temperatures between 32- and 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. This helps the tree get ready for producing fruits the next year. If you live in an area with mild winters, look for varieties of potted fruit trees that have become accustomed to fewer chill hours.

If you live in a colder climate, bringing your fruit trees inside or protecting them outdoors is essential for their health. For deciduous trees, this means keeping them in an unheated garage or another cool area.

You can also insulate outdoor trees by tying up branches into a cylinder, filling it with leaves or straw, wrapping it in burlap, and covering it with plastic to keep out moisture.

Bring your citrus trees indoors before the first frost hits. You’ll need to find a spot with plenty of light, preferably near a window, and add some supplemental heat if necessary. To keep your tree happy, you should also mist the foliage with tepid water every so often; too much dryness can cause the fruit to drop prematurely.

Replanting

Woman caring for houseplants in spring planting an olive tree sapling in a larger pot
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Replant your trees every couple of years or so to keep them healthy and thriving. When it comes time to repot, root-prune your plant and add about 30 percent fresh compost to the pot. This will help ensure that roots have plenty of room to grow and develop.

Additionally, if there is any sign of deterioration, such as yellow leaves or lack of growth, replant your tree immediately in order to revive its health.

Pruning

Hands holding pruning shears and cutting olive tree branch in spring
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Pruning fruit trees in a pot is an essential part of caring for them and keeping their size manageable. Apples, cherries, pears, plums, and peaches all require different pruning requirements.

Prune apples and pears in late summer, or early fall to remove any robust growth. Cut back all fresh shoots to two to three leaves.

Plums, cherries, and peaches need light pruning in mid-summer to retain their shape and remove any dead, crossing, or weak branches.

Pests and Diseases

Green aphids on plant stem
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To ensure your fruit trees stay protected, it’s recommended to spray them about two weeks after their flowers have fallen off. Apply a second spray one to two weeks later. If you notice more insect traffic after the two applications, spray gain in July or August. Use an insecticidal soap or organic soap solution and use a soft brush for gentle scrubbing all over the tree’s body.

Look out for varieties, rootstocks, and native fruit trees that are resistant to problems in your area. This way you can minimize potential outbreaks of disease.

Good plant hygiene is essential too, so clean any tools or equipment you use on your fruit tree before moving on to another.

Pear-fect!

Growing fruit trees in pots can add a beautiful, vibrant flair to your outdoor space. Armed with these 11 tips and tricks, you’ll be ready to start your own journey into the world of container gardening. The process may seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own delicious and nutritious snack.

Help make this world better and more sustainable one pot garden at a time! Share this article and leave a comment below!

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