How to Grow a Fruit Tree in a Container


Poor soil, improper climate or just the lack of garden space are some reasons to grow fruit trees in containers. Fruit trees in pots do not produce as much fruit as a tree planted in the ground, but a container-grown tree has the advantage of being portable. For instance, a tropical fruit tree grown in a container can easily be moved indoors in climates with winter temperatures regularly below freezing. Most types of fruit trees grow well in containers and will produce fruit if given the proper care.

Step 1

Choose a large, heavy pot. Place screen mesh over the drainage holes to keep the soil in the container. Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of gravel on the bottom to help with drainage. Mix one part sand, one part peat moss and one part shredded bark, perlite or vermiculite together. This will prevent the soil from becoming compacted in the plant pot. Fill the pot with the mixture and plant the fruit tree.

Step 2

Examine the roots whenever the fruit tree is out of its container for transplanting. Prune back larger roots with a sharp pair of pruning shears if the fruit tree is root bound. Loosen the roots around the edges of the root ball. Do not rip the root ball apart since this could damage the roots.

Step 3

Water your fruit tree only as needed. When the upper surface of the soil becomes dry to the touch, water the tree thoroughly. Slowly fill the container until the water runs out the bottom of the plant pot. Drain the excess water. Do not water as frequently during cool weather in the winter.

Step 4

Feed fruit trees at the beginning of the growing season when they begin to form buds. Fertilize again at the beginning of July. If you use water-soluble fertilizer, check for a white crust forming on the soil surface or on the edges of the container due to salt build up. Leech this out of the container by slowly running water through the container for 10 to 15 minutes. This will carry the salts down through the soil and out the drainage holes.

Step 5

Cut back leggy, spindly branches halfway to force the fruit tree to branch and grow bushier. When the top overgrows, prune the fruit tree back heavily in the winter in order to rejuvenate it.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not suddenly change light for your fruit tree since this will cause leaf drop. Do not move a tree growing in partial shade to direct, full sunlight quickly. Slowly acclimatize the fruit tree when moving it around. Slowly reduce the amount of light for two to three weeks for a fruit tree moving indoors for the winter. It is not necessary to acclimatize a tree moved indoors for a few days to prevent freezing.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container
  • Screen mesh
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Shredded bark
  • Fruit tree
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Fertilizer


  • Growing Fruit Crops in Containers
Keywords: fruit trees, fruit trees container growing, container tree care

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.