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Size doesn’t matter - Growing fruit trees in pots

3 February, 2020

When you think fruit trees you might be thinking huge trees and large backyards. Did you think that fruit trees weren’t an option because you only have a small backyard and its all paved? 

The benefits of growing fruit trees in pots include:

-Growing a large crop in a small area
-No digging required, can grow on pavers 
-Can take them with you when you move
-Can move them based on the seasons and the amount of sunlight 
-Pots will naturally limit or bonsai the fruit tree by restricting the root system  
-You can Espalier vines like grapes along a fence line or even other fruit trees
-If a plant gets a pest or disease you can quarantine it away from susceptible plants

There are some things that you want to consider to grow great fruit trees in pots such as selecting the correct pot size, using high quality potting mix, watering at least daily, adequate fertilising, using a wetting agent every few months, replenishing the potting mix every 12 months and pruning.  

Choosing the correct pot size can be the difference between success and failure. A fig tree for example will be much happier in a 90L pot as opposed to a 30L pot. As will most fruit trees.

A high-quality potting mix will contain controlled release fertilisers, water retaining agents such as Grosorb, high quality compost, no weed seeds, pH between 5.3 to 6.5 for adequate nutrient uptake and complies with Australian standards 3743 for a premium grade potting mix.

A pot in full sun can dry out very quickly in summer especially if it is black. Most fruit trees require quite allot of water to thrive especially if their growing media is above ground. If you have 90L pots, then daily watering even during the hottest weather will be enough. This must be hand watering on your non watering days as we are only allowed to use retic for 2-3 times a week in Perth depending on whether you have a bore. 

Allot of fruit trees appreciate light but regular liquid feeds as well as granular controlled release fertiliser which will be present in a high-quality potting mix. Powerfeed and Ecogrowth Ecovital are great as they also include beneficial micro-organisms which will improve soil life and fertility. These can be applied every 3 weeks. After 6 months I will add a 6-month slow release fertiliser such as Troforte fruit and citrus.

Potting mix can become dry and hydrophobic over a long hot summer. Applying a high-quality wetting agent such as Ecogrowth Ecowet every month or 2 will make a big difference to water and nutrients reaching the roots. 

Potting mix is only a temporary growing medium as it’s not designed for the long term. Over the year the potting mix will compact also. Each winter I will add new potting mix to bring the potting mix back to the original level. 

Pruning is important to reduce size and control shape. With light and regular pruning, you can encourage your fruit tree to grow a canopy that is perfectly suited to growing in a potted environment. Without pruning plants will become unruly and they won’t be compact and take up too much space. There are some dwarf varieties that may not require as much pruning. 

Ben is qualified in Agriculatural science and has years of experience in horticulture and landscaping. To book a consultation or garden design please contact Ben via email ben@bensgardens.com.au or 0409539855.