8 great fruit trees for pots

Many different fruit trees grow well in containers, from familiar apples to exotic pomegranate. Start your own potted orchard with a few of these choice fruits.

 

Apple

Columnar apple trees grow 8-10 feet tall by 2 feet wide. These upright trees bear full-size apples, although overall yield is less than a dwarf tree. Plant more than one variety for pollination. Try ‘Northpole’ (similar to McIntosh), ‘Golden Sentinel’ (similar to Golden Delicious) or ‘Scarlet Sentinel’ (green-yellow with red blush). Traditional dwarf rootstock apples also grow in containers; in southern climes, plant low-chill varieties.

 

Fig

In pots, restricted root growth yields shorter fig plants loaded with fruit. Prune the initial plant 12-15 inches high, followed by annual winter pruning to increase branch number. Many varieties do well in containers: ‘Brown Turkey,’ ‘Preston Prolific,’ ‘Black Genoa’ and ‘White Genoa.’

 

Grape

Support potted grapevines with an ornamental trellis. As vines mature, pots can become top-heavy. Anchor with cinder blocks or tuck into a custom support structure. Choose varieties that bear fruit clusters close to the trunk, such as (seedless) ‘Interlaken’ or ‘Canadice,’ (seeded) ‘Seyval,’ ‘Early Muscat,’ ‘Swenson Red’ (extra hardy) or ‘Sweet Lace’ (developed for patio use).

 

Nectarine

Sweet and juicy, dwarf nectarines ripen full-size fruit on self-pollinating trees ranging from 4-6 feet. Spring flowers are eye-catching. Make sure your climate provides required chilling hours for fruiting. Miniature (genetic dwarf) varieties include ‘Nectarina,’ ‘Necta Zee’ and ‘Nectar Babe,’ ‘Leprechaun’ and ‘Garden Delight.’

 

Peach

Pillar or columnar peaches grow to 5 feet wide, more or less. If trees spread, prune branches back to 12 inches in early spring. Peaches are self-pollinating but do need a certain number of chilling hours to bear fruit. Try ‘Crimson Rocket,’ ‘SummerFest’ or ‘Sweet-N-Up.’

 

Pineapple Guava

Also known as feijoa, pineapple guava is a beautiful ornamental with mint-guava-pineapple-flavored fruit. Showy, 1-inch blooms have fleshy, edible white petals surrounding scarlet stamens. Prune to shape in late winter/early spring. Feijoa requires 100-200 chilling hours below 45°F to fruit. Fruits continue to ripen after picking. Some varieties require cross-pollination; inquire at time of purchase.

 

Pomegranate

Delicious fruit, vibrant red spring blooms and bronze-tinged new growth make pomegranate a beautiful ornamental. Try the dwarf variety ‘Red Silk’, which grows 6 feet tall and bears full-size, grenadine-flavored fruit. Pick fruit when ripe but before skin splits. Fruit continues to sweeten after picking.

 

Star Fruit

All varieties of star fruit adapt to growing in pots. Confined root spaces help curtail upward growth, but don't hesitate to prune trees during late winter/early spring to keep height manageable. Protect these tropicals during a freeze. Varieties include ‘Arkin,’ ‘Fwang Tung,’ ‘Kari’ and ‘Sri Kembangan.’

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