Welcome to this post on growing fruit trees in containers.
Growing your own food can be a wonderful way to both save money on groceries and provide healthy fruits and vegetables for your family.
This was inspired by a fellow gardener, and in order to shed some light on the topic for those getting started with container gardening, hopefully, you’ll be learn something new and be inspired to start your own.
Table of Contents
Growing Fruit Trees in Containers
In urban areas, container gardens are often more flexible and adaptable, and this includes fruit trees.
There’s more to it than that; growing fruit trees can help the bee population. Bees are an important part of almost every food plant we have, from corn and avocados to lemons, plums, and peaches.
Encouraging them to gather nectar in your yard will help ensure that they remain a viable species.
Trees of all kinds help to reduce the carbon dioxide levels around them. They basically breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.
This can be especially important in urban areas, as carbon levels tend to be higher due to the number of vehicles… as well as industry.
Are Fruit Trees Easy to Grow?
The answer to that is that it depends.
Planting a cherry or avocado seed to grow a tree is hard.
If it takes, it will be many years before you see any fruit. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it is a long-term project.
Fruit trees can be grafted, which doesn’t take as long. However, the graft is often weaker than the rest of the tree.
It will need to be carefully tended to make sure it doesn’t split.
The younger the tree and graft are when it is done, the better for both.
The answer also depends on the type of trees you choose. Some trees do better being planted as a bare root.
It is partially grown, the roots are bundled into the packaging and they can be planted into the prepared soil.
As many of the container gardening books will tell you, other ther trees, such as citrus and avocado, need to have leaves as well as roots when being planted.
While they are packaged similarly, they are live plants ready to adapt to the soil.
Where to buy fruit trees
There are a lot of places that sell fruit trees. Below are a few that we’ve used for a variety of bare root plants.
When it is planting season, some warehouse stores will carry both types of fruit trees.
Examples of those We’ve purchased:
This is, again seasonal. The two stores I found trees in are Aldi and Sprouts. Here’s what I got there:
- Blueberry (shrub but gets almost as big as a tree)
It may not matter the season, although you would be getting live plants most likely already in a container.
I got these in garden centers and nurseries:
Online or mail order
We’ve gotten other plants via this route. They do offer fruit trees, both live and bare root.
This can be a little harder to handle, as they will be subject to the delivery methods chosen by the retailer.
The good news about this is that they are usually great about replacing plants that aren’t viable when they arrive.
In the United States the Burpee store is exceptionally good at this, but Michigan Bulb and Raintree also have good reputations.
If you buy your trees at a garden center or nursery, you can ask questions about the needs of the trees.
For example, if you live in the Southwest and you want apple, cherry or other prunus trees to produce, you will need to ice them several times in the winter. You may need certain types of soil additives as well.
Ask about how much water they need for your climate. Under and overwatering can be bad for the plants.
Easy to grow fruit trees
The ease of growth may depend on where you are located. This post is written from both experiences in a semi-arid and hot region.
Those in cooler climes will be best off skipping the citrus trees.
When the now thirty-plus foot tree was a baby, the biggest worry was that it would get stepped on. That isn’t a worry in a container. Other than watering it in the dry months, that has been the only concern.
However, if you aren’t familiar with the trees, there are a few things you do need to know.
Avocados do not come off of the tree ready to eat.
They are as hard as a rock and have to soften over a period of days before they are edible.
They can and will dent anything they land on that is able to be dented. Several of our cars have been victims.
It is a bee tree like no other in my yard. That’s good for the bees and great for the planet. However, if bees scare you, it may not be a good choice. It also sheds leaves year-round.
This tree doesn’t require icing during the winter, even in an arid area. With ours, we just planted it and it grew. It produced fruit in its second year, and copious amounts starting in its third year.
There are a lot of ways to preserve apricots. It can be made into fruit leather, dried fruit, and jam.
Apricot butter is a favorite, and of course, it can be canned or frozen as needed. As a child, I would sit in the apricot tree and scarf them.
The biggest problem we’ve found with both the apricot and the avocado is that there are other creatures that like them just as much.
Squirrels will eat them. Sometimes they’ll eat them while in the tree but more often they take them elsewhere. Check your vehicle engine compartment for remnants…
Easily the easiest tree we’ve planted. In the first two or three years, it did require some watering, especially in the dry months. However, now it simply does its thing and we benefit from the fresh limes.
Limes can be frozen whole, dried and the juice can be frozen. Freezing them whole or zesting them, juicing them, and freezing them is relatively easy. The juice can be made into syrup and canned, as well.
Green limes are actually unripe limes. They tend to be a little more bitter but also a lot juicier than the fully ripe version… at least on my tree.
Fully ripe limes look a little like small lemons in color, although the shape is rounder.
Ants like limes, especially the ripe ones. They are about the only creature that will go after them. Like the avocado, it attracts bees to pollinate it. The scent of the flowers is heavenly.
We got this on the spur of the moment. We were going to do Sprouts and there they were. Our area is especially good for the trees, as long as they get adequate water. It is currently in a container in our front yard.
Olive trees don’t grow particularly fast. They may grow to twenty or so feet but are not likely to get a lot taller.
They do require a lot of sunlight and they don’t handle frost well. Those in colder climates may need to bring the trees indoors for the winter.
One of the things we learned about this tree… the hard way… is that they don’t come off of the tree ready to eat. It’s not that they need to be softened like avocados.
No, if only it was like that.
We popped one off of the tree and I put one into my mouth, still sun-kissed. I don’t think I have ever spat anything out faster. It is so bitter; it will leave a pucker for quite some time.
This one is last because it has some special needs in dryer more arid climates. Planting and growing it is easy. We just put it into the ground, provided adequate water and it grew.
Apple trees need frost to signify that the summer is over and that it can go completely dormant.
It doesn’t have to be constant, but it needs frost several times over the course of the colder months. Without it, they won’t produce.
In order for it to produce, place about two pounds of ice around the base of the tree.
This needs to be done at least four times during the cold months, preferably a week or two apart. That will be enough to fool the tree into doing its job.
Apples can be preserved in a lot of different ways. Our family prefers apple butter and applesauce. In order to prevent them from turning brown, add a little citric acid.
Basic Gardening Tools
The tools needed to grow trees are minimal. Unlike vegetable gardens, they rarely need weeding or hoeing to grow.
Even in a temperate environment, there may be periods of drought where the trees will need a little water. Make sure the one you choose has a gentle shower option.
Pruning can be needed on some trees. This gets dead branches off before they can pose a hazard. It also helps keep it easy to walk around the trees.
Pruning shears are not strong enough for the job after the tree reaches a certain growth.
Whether you go by chemistry or all-natural, ask a nursery person (or google) what nutrients the trees need. Potting soil gets exhausted and additional nutrients will be needed.
All trees shed leaves. Some folks like to leave them for mulch, but that doesn’t look good and homeowners associations may not approve.
Even if each tree only has four or five pieces of fruit ripe, it is a lot easier to bring them in with a basket. We have used everything from an apron, a bowl, and even a dutch oven, but the basket is a better idea.
Growing Fruit Trees in Containers
Growing fruit trees in containers are not as formidable as you might think. They provide many benefits to the planet, your city, your home, and your health.
They keep the bee population happy and provide food for urban wildlife that may not be able to find enough.
It’s also not that expensive. The initial outlay for each tree was less than twenty dollars; with a container that might up it to thirty. Look into it today; you will enjoy the outcome.
See these tips on starting an Urban Garden to help you get more ideas on all the ways you can get started with container gardening today.
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