Container Gardening

Growing Fruit Trees in Containers (Part II)

This article focuses on the proper care of potted fruit trees. It’s important to give your trees all the necessary nutrients, water and sunlight so they can grow safely and stay healthy.

Watering

This is one of the most important things you should monitor. Overwatering is very dangerous for young potted trees so you need to keep a close eye on your tree and water it only when it’s absolutely needed. You shouldn’t let the soil dry completely, but daily watering is probably not necessary so it’s best to be avoided. Water your tree only when the soil is dry to the touch a few inches below the surface.

Lemon tree in pot

When the tree gets more mature it will need more water, especially during months when it’s in full leaf (late spring and summer). A mature tree in full leaf will usually benefit from daily watering until the temperatures cool off. This is when your tree will begin to harden off and prepare for the winter.

Fertilizing

Some of the potting mixes come with fertilizer included. If this is the case with the potting mix you want to use, then there’s no need for additional fertilizer at planting time. You may wish to introduce some fertilizer later, during the growing season. Always use a water-soluble fertilizer so the roots are able to absorb the nutrients.

Winterizing

It’s important to prepare all of your potted trees for the winter. Your tree will become dormant in the fall, so this is when you should take some important actions to properly protect your tree:

  • Pruning. This will remove all the damaged, dead or disabled branches. It will help the tree survive the winter and it will enhance its future production. It is also a vital step in shaping of the tree.
  • Watering. Water the soil around the roots to avoid freeze damage in case you’re not prepared to bring your container indoors.
  • Mulching. Mulching over the surface of the soil will insulate the roots and protect them from winter. This is very important if you choose to keep your tree outdoors during winter.
  • Bring your tree inside. You may need to bring your tree indoors to protect it from winter.

Photo credit: Martin LaBar (going on hiatus) via photopin cc