Having fresh fruit direct from your garden is one of the joys of life. Fruit bushes can provide interesting leaves, bark, and shapes, and they often have blossom, which provides flowers and scent.
Insects will be attracted to the flowers, and you can create a productive and lively area in any sized site.
Many fruits grow well in containers, and in fact, some grow better in containers than in the garden, so make ideal plants for even the smallest corner.
The first rule is that each plant will need certain things to grow well and develop flowers and fruit.
They need adequate space in the container, enough water and light, and the temperature needs to be right.
So long as you give the plants those things, you can grow fruit very successfully in containers.
Many fruits which we associate with large trees can now be grown on dwarfing rootstock. It is the rootstock that imparts qualities such as tolerance of soil types, size, vigor, and disease resistance.
It is the fruit part, or scion, which produces the crop, so you might have a ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ apple variety grafted on to a dwarfing rootstock.
Although normally a 30 feet tree, the rootstock will keep the tree small so you can have ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ in a container and get good crops.
The same applies to many varieties of pears, plums, and cherries. For example, the wonderful ‘Stella’ cherry can be grown on ‘Colt’ dwarfing rootstock, and you get a tiny tree with loads of tasty cherries in a small area.
Other fruits are suitable to grow in containers without grafting them onto dwarf rootstock, including bush fruits such as blueberries, red and white currants, and gooseberries.
The good thing about using containers is that you can have different soil in each container to grow blueberries with a pH of 5.5-6.5 alongside gooseberries who prefer more alkaline soil.
Containers mean that you can have climbing fruit in areas of the garden where there is no soil, such as on a concrete patio next to a wall.
Kiwi, raspberries, and blackberries can be rooted in containers and grow to clothe a trellis or fence, providing good foliage cover plus delicious fruits later in the year.
Just about any fruit can be grown in containers. The only exceptions are vines whose growth needs are not suited to containers.
Figs actually produce more fruit with fuller flavor when their roots are restricted to a container is ideal.
Another benefit of growing fruit in containers on dwarf roots stocks is that you can avoid the problem of having to grow a pollinator nearby.
For example, many apples are not self-fertile and need a different variety, flowering at the same time, close by to ensure pollination.
However, many small trees for containers have four or even five varieties grafted onto the rootstock, meaning you always have varieties in flower which will pollinate each other without needing another tree close by.
These are called ‘family’ grafts and are increasingly popular in small gardens.
You need to make sure there is adequate drainage in your containers and that they are robust enough to support the bulk of the plants and any additional stress put on the framework when the branches are laden with fruit.
When placing your containers in the garden, make sure they will not get frost, especially during flowering time, as the blossoms may get damaged, and you will lose the fruit.
Line the bottom of your containers with crocks or fist-sized stones to help drainage and use fertile compost as fruit trees need plenty of food when fruiting.
Use the correct planting medium for the fruit grown and give adequate water.
Many container growers find an irrigation system helps because watering a lot of containers is difficult.
Use pot feet to raise the pot’s base from the surface to help drainage further and always check the fruit plant is not becoming too large for the container.
You can choose containers to go with the rest of the garden design, and you can also move them around to ensure that fruiting plants get the most light and sun. You can use supports in the containers themselves, and these can be decorative.
Fruit in containers is not as difficult as you might think, and there are many different varieties of fruit you can grow. You can even try exotics like lemons and oranges in warmer areas. Try it and see.
Fruit trees are a great addition to any garden. They provide shade for your vegetables and flowers, they offer different shapes of leaves, fruits, and flowers with every season. But when you don’t have space for a fruit tree in the ground, there’s another option: containers!