Dwarf fruit trees are miniature trees that are suitable for small spaces. Because they're smaller than normal-sized trees, there's always room for them in a home landscape or garden. These smaller fruit trees, coming in varieties of fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries, are easy to tend and are often grown in containers. Although these trees are small they produce average-sized fruit. However, they yield less fruit because of their smaller size and don't live as long as normal-sized trees.
Besides their ability to fit in smaller spaces and decorative advantages, dwarf fruit trees have other benefits. For example, these smaller trees start to bear fruit sooner than full-size trees. They begin bearing fruit within 3-5 years. Not as much pesticide is needed for smaller trees. Dwarf fruit trees also make picking fruit easier. Rather than climbing upon a ladder, fruit can easily be picked off the tree while standing on the ground.
There are two types of dwarf fruit trees: regular dwarfs and generic dwarfs. Regular dwarfs (rootstocks) are created by grafting a regular size variety onto a dwarfing rootstock. This is done most effectively with apples. Genetic dwarf fruit trees are produced by propagating a compact variety that's already small onto a rootstock of a standard size. They're short with heavy branches, appearing somewhat muscular because of their growth buds and closely spaced leaves. Genetic dwarfs rarely exceed 7 feet in height and produce roughly one-fifth what a regular fruit tree does.
Growing Dwarf Trees in Containers
Growing dwarf fruit trees in containers make caring from these trees easy. For example, container grown dwarfs are easier to prune and harvest. What's more, they bear fruit quicker. Although almost any type of common fruit tree can be grown in containers, citrus trees are the most popular type. Containers can be made from materials including metal, plastic, clay, wood or ceramic, provided adequate drainage is provided. Use a container about 6 inches wider than the container that a tree was initially planted in while at the nursery.
One of the most important considerations in growing a dwarf fruit tree is sunshine. Fruit trees needed direct sunlight for most of the daylight hours include apples, peaches, pears, nectarines and apricot trees. On the other hand, plum and cherry dwarf trees can tolerate some shade. Dwarf fruit trees also need sandy well-drained soil.
Potted dwarf fruit trees should not be outdoors during cold spells, besides being kept away from drafts when indoors. Plants grown in pots need to be re-potted one container size up roughly every 2 years. Also, outdoor trees need protection from animals eating the tender bark of newly planted trees. This can be done by using fencing or by wrapping trunks with plastic tree wraps.