I had hoped that we would have our glasshouse by now and I had already cleared a space for it. This was hindered by the prospect of further construction by our neighbor so at the end of 2016 and the start of this 2017 we have added a number of patio fruit trees to the garden.
•They provide a decorative flowers and a surprisingly large amount of fruit.
•They provide food for bees and other insects
•You can move the trees into a frost-free area of the garden during very cold conditions.
•You can grow fruit trees in very small spaces, ideal for houses with no gardens.
•If you think you might be moving house, or in my case have issues with continuous construction from the neighbors you can move the trees around without harming them.
The trees that I bought were specifically grown for patio conditions which I purchased through groupon. According to the very limited instructions provided they will grow to a maximum height of 60cm (2 feet) tall. They grow the fruit on the stem and do not have side branches.
I purchased 3 apples (2 Braeburn and 1 Golden delicious), 2 pears Doyenne du Comice, one Stella cherry and a Black Amber Plum. One more apple trees (granny smith apple) did not survive being transplanted in 2016. Usually growing plum trees in pots or containersis not recommended but the one I bought was specifically a patio tree.
We also bought a number of patio trees from Bakker.com which were much taller and stronger looking on delivery. My partner was keen on a wild peach tree but these grow too tall for our little garden, so we settled for a patio nectarine and an apricot that will grow to a maximum of 1.5m (5 feet) tall.
Unfortunately Hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds are not suitable for growing in containers. We are lucky to know someone with a walnut tree and my partner’s grandfather has a hazelnut tree so we don’t need to be too disappointed.
•In all cases the tree will need to be regularly watered and fed
•When looking at pots - too big is far better than too small. A container with a diameter smaller than 30cm is unlikely to be big enough, even for a dwarf fruit tree.
•It is best to use normal soil, or a mix of compost and ordinary soil
•Decorative mulch on top of the soil will help keep moisture in.
•The key thing when growing fruit trees in containers is not to let the soil dry out.
•After the tree has reached its final size it is also worth replenishing a proportion of the soil every 3-5 years.
•During the growing season, plant food helps as nutrients are easily lost from containers over the year. You can buy special organic fruit tree plant food at the garden center. This should be applied in early spring, as trees put on most of their seasonal growth in the period April - June.
•Watering is the biggest issue when choosing to grow fruit trees in containers. Watering is not usually required over the winter when the tree is dormant, but during the rest of the year be prepared to water twice a week, and possibly daily during sunny warm weather. If you go away for a period make sure you get someone to come in and water the tree.
•If the tree looks unhappy or unhealthy, the cause is often stress brought on by insufficient watering. As the tree weakens it is less able to fight off insect and fungal infections.
•If you live in an area where winter temperatures fall well below freezing (-17C or 0F) you will need to take steps to protect the tree.
The main disadvantage of growing a fruit tree in a container is that it is actually a very difficult environment for the tree, so the tree will need a quite a bit more attention than if grown in open ground - but as long as you take care you should be successful. But as my article “myth of the green thumb” shows, anything is possible with a little effort and determination.