How to Care for Container Fruit Trees


If you're an apartment dweller, or don't have garden space for a regular tree, consider growing a tree in a container. Container-grown fruit trees provide a leafy-green ambiance to a balcony or patio, and if you live in a cold climate, you can bring it indoors during the winter. Although caring for a container-grown fruit tree is different from caring for a fruit tree grown in the ground, it's not difficult as long as you provide adequate water, food and light.

Step 1

Water container-grown fruit trees regularly, and don't allow the soil to dry out. Fruit trees grown in containers will require more water than those grown in the ground. Keep them moist, but never soaked.

Step 2

Feed container-grown fruit trees a time-release fertilizer every spring, or a water-soluble fertilizer every month during the growing season, between April and October. Fertilizing is crucial for container-grown fruit trees, because they can't get their nutrients from the ground. Use a good quality fertilizer, or fertilizer sticks, formulated especially for fruit trees. Don't fertilize during fall and winter when the tree is dormant.

Step 3

Place container-grown fruit trees where they will get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. If the tree is grown indoors, a southern-facing window is best.

Step 4

Position the trees where they will be sheltered from the wind. If they are citrus trees, don't allow the temperature to fall below 45 degrees F. If they aren't citrus, they can withstand chillier temperatures but should be brought indoors during extreme cold. If you can't bring them indoors, wrap the container with bubble wrap to insulate it. Keep in mind that the roots won't have as much protection as trees grown in the ground.

Step 5

Transplant the fruit tree to a larger container if it becomes root bound, indicated by poor growth or yellowing leaves. Purchase a container one size larger, and fill it with good quality potting soil. If you don't want the tree to grow larger, trim 1/3 of the roots and put it back in its original container. You can also move the tree outdoors if it gets too big.

Step 6

Prune container-grown fruit trees as needed to maintain the desired shape, and to keep them from becoming too large. Remove weak branches, and branches that are growing inward or across other branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree fertilizer for fruit trees
  • Bubble wrap (optional)
  • Pruners


  • How to Grow a Potted Tree on Your Patio or Porch
  • Growing Trees in Containers
Keywords: container-grown trees, time-release fertilizer, bubble wrap

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.