How to Plant Trees in Pots


Potted trees allow you to have shade and greenery in areas where a natural solution is otherwise not possible. Frame driveways and doorways with two potted trees or place a potted tree in the corner of a deck. When choosing the type of tree, keep in mind what species grow well in your area and look for dwarf or small varieties. Most garden centers and nurseries will guide you to the trees that grow best in the size of containers you wish to use.

Step 1

Choose a heavy pot made of clay or wood. Plastic pots are flimsy and more likely to age and break down over time. Choose bottom heavy containers when possible to prevent them from being blown over in high winds.

Step 2

Place 2 inches of pebbles in the bottom of the container to aid drainage. This prevents the soil from compacting in and blocking the drainage holes, which leads to too much moisture around the tree roots.

Step 3

Mix a slow release fertilizer formulated for the tree type in with a quality soil-based potting mix. Feed with additional fertilizer every spring.

Step 4

Place a layer of soil mix in the pot. Remove the burlap or other wrapping from the tree roots and knock off as much of the soil clinging to them as possible without damaging the roots.

Step 5

Set the tree into the container, spreading the roots slightly. Fill the container half full of soil then water it until it drains from the bottom--this collapses any air pockets in the soil around the roots. Finish filling the container with soil then water again.

Step 6

Water as needed to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Place a 2 inch layer of organic mulch on top the soil in the pot to help preserve moisture. Replace the mulch as needed to maintain the 2 inch layer.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the the tree begins lifting itself from the pot it is outgrowing the container size. Either replant in a bigger pot or in the ground, or prune back the roots to maintain the small size of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Pebbles
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Oregon State University: How To Grow Potted Trees
Keywords: potted trees, container plants, trees in planters

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.