Plant an Orchard on Your Patio Dwarf Fruit Trees for Containers


Plant an Orchard on Your Patio
  • Posted May 21, 2014

Professional plant breeders are like horticultural wizards. Apple trees, which naturally grow to over 30 feet in height, are turned into dwarves and elves by those that know the secrets of selective breeding. Everything about them stays exactly the same, but is reduced to miniature proportions—other than the fruit, that is!

pomes POMES

Apples and pears, known collectively as the pome fruits, reach the height determined by the type of rootstock they are grafted to.

For apples, if the tag says “M27", “M9" or “M26," then it is small enough to grow in a large pot.

For dwarf pears, look for trees grafted on to the “Quince C" rootstock. There are also “columnar" varieties, the smallest of all pomes.

Not only do these top out at less than 6 feet tall, they have short, stubby side branches just a few inches long, allowing them to squeeze into tiny spaces.


stones

STONES

Cherries, peaches, plums, apricots—anything with a pit in it—are known as a stone fruit. Dwarfing rootstocks are not used as much with stone fruits; instead, dwarfing is achieved by selecting varieties that are genetically diminutive.

Genetic dwarf peaches are the most miniscule of all fruit trees, growing less than 5 feet tall and wide. Dwarves of other varieties are less common, but there are a few: the “Pixie-Cot" apricot and the “Weeping Santa Rosa" plum are two of the tastiest.


exotics EXOTICS

One reason to grow fruit in containers is to be able to move it inside when cold weather hits. Citrus, for example, has been grown in pots ever since the tradition of the orangery was born during the Renaissance.

Dwarf varieties fit neatly in front of a sunny window—exactly where they prefer to be when the thermometer goes below 32 degrees.

Anywhere that dips below 10 degrees in winter is too cold to grow figs in the ground, but they are easy to keep in a container and bring indoors after they lose their leaves in fall. Any fig variety will grow in a pot, as they can be held to the size desired with pruning. The constricted root space actually induces heavy fruiting in figs.

For adventurous gardeners, papayas, bananas, guavas—even mangoes—are all possible to grow in containers. To have any chance of ripe fruit, however, these need to be brought into a warm, sunny room whenever temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.


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