You can turn your patio or balcony into an oasis with the addition of potted fruit trees. Fragrant flower blossoms, beautiful, waxy leaves and succulent fruit are the boons of a fruit-tree-lined balcony.
Contact a local nursery to inquire about dwarf rootstock trees, a class of small fruit trees that grow well in pots. Different types of fruit buds can be grafted onto the dwarf rootstock, allowing you to grow small fruit trees in a small container. Grafting can produce multiple types of fruit on a single tree, but this is difficult to accomplish with dwarf rootstock.
You may need more than one tree to pollinate the other, which is required for apples and pears. Other fruit trees are self-fertile — they self-pollinate and don’t require another tree to produce fruit. Self-fertile dwarf trees include cherries, peaches and plums.
Cherry trees produce breathtaking blossoms and plenty of fruit. Because they’re self-fertile, only one tree is needed to yield fruit.
Place the pot against something supportive, such as a wall. Lapins and Stella are tasty varieties, while the Morello variety bears tart cherries ideal for cooking. You might need netting to protect the irresistible fruit from birds and pests.
Peaches blossom in early spring, putting the flowers at risk of frost damage. The great thing about potted trees is the ability to bring them inside to avoid frost. If you can’t bring a tree inside, cover it with blankets to protect against the cold.
Bonanza is a great dwarf peach variety to try. Peaches are self-fertile, but you can encourage pollination by tapping pollen gently with a brush and distributing it on the flower.
If you’re looking for a fruit tree with a high yield for minimal effort, look no further than the plum tree. Most plum varieties are self-fertile. Prune them in the summer to prevent fungal issues. Make sure to thin out the developing fruit to prevent an imbalance of fruit production the following year.
Apples are not self-fertile, so you’ll need to have more than one tree to produce fruit. You can use different varieties and they will pollinate each other, allowing you to enjoy more than one type of apple.
A number of apple varieties can be grown as a bush on dwarf rootstock. Sweet varieties include Honeycrisp, Fuji, Pink Lady and Gala apples. If you’re looking for cooking apples, try Sierra Beauty or Liberty.
A perfectly ripe, sweet pear has a texture and flavor that can’t be beat or imitated. Like peaches, pears blossom in early spring and are susceptible to frost damage. Cover with a blanket or move indoors to avoid frost. Hearty and delicious varieties include Bartlett, Doyenne du Comice and Moonglow.
Tips to Grow Potted Fruit Trees
- You’ll need a pot that’s at least one foot deep and one foot in diameter. The container needs drainage holes to release water, so drill them if necessary. Use a soil-based potting mix to ensure nutrients release slowly.
- Place trees in a sunny location to encourage a high yield and sweet fruit. Make sure the tree is firmly supported; otherwise it could topple over in a strong breeze.
- Nourish fruit trees with a feed high in potash, such as liquid seaweed. Water regularly and consider mulching the surface soil to lock in moisture.
- Keep up with pruning to avoid fungus and overgrown branches. Maintenance will help produce delectable fruit.
Watch the video below to learn more about growing organic fruit trees in containers. With modest effort, you can enjoy a range of fruits grown right on your balcony, city rooftop or patio. Potted fruit trees allow you to join the local food movement within a small space.
Author bio: Michelle Whitmer is a health, medical and science writer who resides in Florida. She’s a registered yoga teacher, member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, and graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies.