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How to Grow: Fruit in Pots
While most gardeners like to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in containers, you can do more. Many fruit trees and berry bushes come in dwarf forms that allow you to grow apples, peaches, blueberries and strawberries in containers on a high rise balcony or a rustic deck.
Fruit Trees in Pots
Columnar apples trees, such as ‘North Pole’, only grow 8 feet tall with stubby branches. Fruits form along the trunk and branches making this small tree perfect for container growing. There are self fruitful, dwarf peaches, such as ‘El Dorado’, and cherry trees, such as ‘Dwarf Northstar’, that can fruit in large containers with a little extra care, even in cold climates. And there’s my prized ‘Brown Turkey’ fig trees that have stayed a manageable 6 feet tall in large containers and produce delicious fresh figs every summer even in Vermont. Even if you live in a climate where fig trees grow in the ground, planting them in containers is an excellent way to keep the trees dwarf and easier to maintain.
Fruits grow best in larger containers (20 inches or more in diameter) . Since these are perennial crops, use a potting soil mix that features compost. This will help with nutrient absorption and water retention.
Bring on the Berries
While tree fruits are fun to imagine, berries are probably more practical for the novice container fruit grower. There are a host of new varieties of blueberries and brambles that grow and fruit well in containers. The Bushel and Berry® series features many of these varieties such as ‘Blueberry Glaze’ and ‘Jelly Bean’. These blueberries stay 2- to 3-feet tall and wide and produce tasty berries. The edibles I’m most impressed with, though, are container brambles. Blackberries, such as ‘Baby Cakes’, and raspberries, such as ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ are summer producers that can be planted right outside your kitchen door. Everbearing and ‘Attila’ alpine strawberries are excellent trailing plants in mixed containers with tall eggplants, okra, and Brussels sprouts.
Of course, fruit trees and berries grown in containers need winter protection indoors in cold climates. Place deciduous fruit containers in a basement, garage or location where the temperatures stay between 25F and 50F in winter. Evergreens, such as citrus, should be kept in a sunny, cool spot. Deciduous plants will go dormant and not require much water or care. This will protect the plants, but also give them the winter chilling they need to fruit, depending on the fruit and variety. Come late winter, when the plant’s natural internal clock tells it to start growing, move plants to a sunnier location, still protected from the late winter cold.