Fruit trees provide vivid color in the spring when they're blossoming and fall color in the autumn when their leaves fall. However, their greatest contribution to the garden is their fruit. Most fruit trees grow too tall and wide for the small lots of urban neighborhoods. That problem is solved with dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees.
Normal Size Fruit
Given the right growing conditions, the fruit of dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are normal sized but the tree takes up less space. The exception would be if the tree has been stressed, under watered or not given regular feedings or if the fruit is a small variety. For example: Key limes are one quarter the size of normal limes, like Mexican sweet limes. Thin the fruit for best production. If a tree produces 50 pounds of fruit per year, it can produce 50 pounds of small fruits or 50 pounds of large fruit. Thinning insures the fruit will be larger.
A number of fruit trees require another tree of the same type, apple to apple for example, to cross pollinate. If there is only one tree, it will produce very little, if any fruit, although it will blossom. Two dwarf trees provide the pollination in about the same amount of space as one standard-sized tree.
Climbing to the top of a 15-foot cherry tree is a challenge most gardeners shouldn't attempt. Specialized picking equipment is expensive and is used only once a year. Dwarf trees are easier to harvest since the fruit can be reached with a stepping stool or short ladder. Trimming the tree and pruning is less of a chore as well.
While any fruit tree may be planted in a container, dwarf and semi-dwarf need less root room to still produce fruit. Containers are especially appropriate for dwarf citrus trees in cold-winter areas. Move the containers inside well before the first frost in fall, and keep them by a sunny window.