How to Care for Dwarf Fruit Trees in Pots

Overview

Dwarf fruit trees are a wise choice when you have limited space or if you live in a climate zone that is not conducive to growing certain types of fruit. When you grow fruit trees in pots, you can control the weather by moving them into a greenhouse or your home during the winter--citrus trees are especially sensitive to frost and can die if they're subjected to temperatures lower than 20 degrees F for prolonged periods. Other fruit trees, such as cherries and apricots, require a winter chill period in order to set fruit the following spring.

Step 1

Remove your young tree from its nursery pot and then gently loosen the root ball.

Step 2

Fill your planting pot about a third full with potting soil. Hold your unpotted tree above the soil to determine if the soil level is adequate, and then add or remove soil if needed to ensure that the base of the trunk will be even with the soil surface after you fill the pot.

Step 3

Hold your unpotted tree in the pot with one hand and with the other, scoop additional potting soil into the pot until it reaches the base of the tree's trunk. The tree should be no deeper than it was in its original nursery pot. Keep your tree in a sunny area.

Step 4

Water your dwarf fruit tree well, until water comes out the pot's drainage hole(s). After one week, check the soil moisture by poking your finger into the soil about 2 inches--if it feels dry, water again as you did initially. Continue watering your tree about once each week, or when the soil feels dry.

Step 5

Fertilize your dwarf fruit tree with a balanced plant food, such as one having an nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 8-8-8, every four to six weeks. Follow label instructions for mixing and applying your fertilizer.

Step 6

Prune your tree when it is dormant in winter to maintain a compact size and encourage fruit production.

Tips and Warnings

  • The California Rare Fruit Growers' web site cautions that when you grow fruit trees in containers they will not yield as much fruit as those grown in the ground. Move your tree to a protected area, or indoors, before your first frost. Be sure to provide adequate light for your tree by keeping it near a window or by providing artificial light--hang a fluorescent shop light above your tree if you need additional light.

Things You'll Need

  • Young dwarf fruit tree
  • 12-inch or larger pot with drainage hole(s)
  • Slightly acidic, sandy potting soil
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning clippers

References

  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Growing Fruit Crops in Containers
  • Gardening Know How: Dwarf Fruit Trees--A Planting Guide
Keywords: fruit trees, miniature dwarf, gardening container

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.