Horticulturalists have developed dwarf and miniature varieties of lemons, limes, oranges, apples, peaches and nectarines that can be grown in pots on a deck or patio. Fruit trees grown in pots require more care than those in orchards, say Larry Jackson and Jeffrey Williamson, horticulturalists with the University of Florida.
Plant the fruit tree in a large pot such as a half of a whiskey barrel that has drainage holes. Cover the holes with screen to keep the soil from washing away.
Fill the pot with a good-quality, loose potting soil such as a commercial mix designed for container gardening, or mix 1 part sand, 1 part peat moss and 1 part vermiculite. Fill the soil to within 3 inches of the top of the container.
Plant the tree so that it sits at the same level it was planted in its nursery container. Firm the soil around the young tree, but don't pack it too tightly. Place the tree where it will get six to eight hours of sunlight daily.
Water the tree when the soil becomes dry 1 inch below the surface. Check the plants two times a week and water as needed, filling the pot and allowing the water to soak in.
Provide support for taller container-grown fruit trees, as some varieties of apples are bred to be grown on trellises.
Cut off any broken or damaged branches. Cut back the tree and allow it to grow out again if the plant becomes leggy because of poor lighting or nutrition.
Feed the tree every four to six weeks with a water soluble fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Lay a running hose on top of the plant to leach out excess salt if a white crust forms on the top of the soil.
Protect the fruit trees from severe cold. Cover the plants in the winter to protect them from severe cold or move citrus trees indoors.