There are many fruit trees that grow well in containers, although more care is needed than with those planted in the ground. People grow fruit trees in containers because of lack of space or having no areas with full sun. One of the biggest reasons, though, is weather. Fruit trees do not tolerate much frost, which leaves out many people who wish to grow fresh fruit. For less care and a longer lasting container tree, you may want to plant a dwarf fruit tree.
Purchase the largest container you can for the space you have, but no smaller than 12 inches in diameter. If your container will stay outdoors in one place, than a large container is best. Make sure the container has drain holes.
Cut a piece of screen to fit the bottom of the container. This will prevent the soil from being washed out the bottom of the container when watered. Place 2 or 3 inches of gravel over the screen to help with drainage.
Mix 1 part peat moss with 1 part sand and 1 part compost. This will give you a well-draining, loose soil. Fill the container the proper level with the soil mixture to place your tree in, where it will be planted at the same level as in the container you purchased it in.
Take the tree gently out of its store container and loosen the roots. If the tree was totally root-bound in the container, prune off some of the roots. Root-bound means the container was totally filled with roots to the point there was no more room for growth. Choose a location that gets full sun to a little afternoon shade.
Place the tree in the container and fill in with soil around the root ball, making sure the tree is standing straight up. Leave 2 or 3 inches without soil at the top of the container to keep the soil from draining out when watered. Water well and check to see if the soil settled downward. If so, add more soil until it is level across the container. If you are working with a very large container, fill with soil at the location the container will be left or it will be too heavy to move.
Water when soil starts to feel dry on the top. This may be every few days or it may be every day depending on heat, wind and humidity. Check frequently to ensure proper watering.
Fertilize with a water-soluble balanced fruit tree fertilizer after the tree has shown some growth. Fertilizers will be different for citrus trees and stone fruit trees. Follow manufacturer's directions on how much and how often to use the fertilizer. Watch for a white residue on top of the soil. Sometimes fertilizers will cause a salt buildup in the soil; if this occurs, the tree will need to be repotted and the salt washed off the roots.
Prune the branches and top of the tree if it starts to look leggy. This will encourage a more bushy growth, but it also means the tree is not getting enough light. Move the tree to a sunnier location.