Having your own orchard growing lush in an array of beautiful pots and containers is one of the easiest ways to consistently have a myriad of fresh fruits ready to harvest. Small fruit trees require very little care once they get going and they can also be moved around whenever necessary, making this kind of garden one that any gardener can create and enjoy.
The variety of fruits, including fruit trees, which you can grow in a container garden is quite diverse which means that when it comes to planning your container orchard, you can get creative. Naturally, any plants grown in pots, even trees that would otherwise have been able to grow into a massive size, will remain quite small. Known as dwarf trees, not only is the overall size of the tree much smaller than you’d expect but in some cases so are the fruits that it bears.
How to get started
Finding fruit trees suitable for pots is actually a lot easier these days than it has been in the past for the simple reason that there is now a range of such trees which have been cultivated for the purpose of being grown either in pots or in small gardens. Since these trees are geared towards being grown in a pot, they really do thrive and will provide loads of fruit when in season.
When selecting the fruit trees for your pots, you will need to make the same considerations that you would when choosing any other kind of plant. You will need to choose the right kind of pot, understand how much care your tree will need and you will have to pay attention to the amount of sunlight the area in which you intend to place the tree will get each day. Luckily, fruit trees tend to enjoy a fairly large amount of daily sunshine, so unless you have chosen the wrong kind of tree for your climate, you should be okay.
You will also need to think about water. Fruit trees tend to need quite a bit of water as part of their daily maintenance. If you have your tree on a veranda or balcony, you will need to make sure that the water doesn’t make a big mess and run into your house, should it overflow.
Another thing to consider is pollination. Many fruit trees will only produce fruit if they are pollinated which means you might need more than one tree. There are many trees out there that are self-pollinating, but it certainly pays to find out what yours is before you end up disappointed in the lack of fruit.
How to plant your fruit tree
Potted fruit trees are not your average pot plant. They are going to still grow quite a bit bigger than a flower or shrub so when you are selecting your pots, make sure that the one you choose is firstly deep enough for the extensive root structure of the tree and secondly that it is also going to be heavy enough, once the plant has been placed, to remain stable on a windy day. Having a wider base will also help with the stability of the pot.
Wooden barrels and terracotta, as well as cement, pots are all really good options.
Any good quality soil and compost should be enough to give your tree a good growing environment and you can also consider using a slow releasing potting mix, which will provide your tree with a steady supply of nutrients over the years that you will have it.
Although most fruit trees need a decent amount of water, they also need to be in the sun for most of the day. During hotter times of the year, you can add a mulch to the top of the soil, just to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.
Which fruit trees can you grow?
The fruit trees that you select should consist of the mix of fruits that you enjoy the most and they should also be suitable for your climate.
The most common fruit and one of the best dwarf fruit trees to grow is the apple. Apple trees grow very well in pots and since they come in a variety of types, you will be able to find the one that is best suited to your taste. They should be grown in a large pot and if you only have enough room for one of them, go for the self-pollinating type.
Sweet and perfect for a snack or when turned into a jam, fig trees are fantastic for pots because they actually grow better when they are slightly restricted. They will need to be well watered and they will like to grow in a sunny, warm place.
Peaches can be sensitive to intense heat. While the fruit is pretty hardy, the flowers can be very delicate and tend to drop off when the spot in which they are growing experiences too much sunlight.
If you want to be a little bit different, you can always go for a cherry tree. It is not every day that you come across someone growing a cherry tree but since they are self-fertilising (pollinating) and produce lots of fruit, they will make a wonderful addition to the container orchard you are growing. Not only can you look forward to loads of fresh cherries but they are absolutely beautiful when then flower.
Plum trees produce loads of fruit and they require very little maintenance. Plum trees can also be self-fertilising. These trees can grow a little too big in their pot, so you can trim it every year to prevent the pot from falling over. One thing to keep in mind when growing plums, is that one year you might get more plums than you can handle, while the next year your harvest could be quite underwhelming.
Pears are not exactly suitable for frost areas since they tend to flower early in the season and as such the flowers can be destroyed. A simple cover can prevent damage though you’ll need to keep an eye on what the weather is up to. Other than that, pears can be easy to take care of and they will produce loads of fruit each season.