With their fragrant blooms, lush green foliage, and sweet harvest, fruit trees are the ultimate garden multitasking. They attract beneficial pollinators and provide even fresher produce than your farmers’ market. Best of all, almost any aspiring gardener can own one, whether it’s in a spacious backyard, on a patio, or in the corner of a city balcony.
Some varieties of apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot and fig trees remain manageable in size while providing a bountiful harvest. You can even espalier their branches into decorative shapes to line a patio or wall. Check out how to grow your own fruit tree below and start dreaming about all the pies and pies to come.
How to choose a fruit tree
Fruit trees are good in pots as long as they’re grown on a rootstock – any specialist supplier can help you choose the right one for your balcony if you’re unsure.
Always check with suppliers if you need more than one tree to ensure good pollination. Some fruit trees, like cherries, apricots, and peaches, are self-fertile, so you will get fruit from just one tree. Others, like apples and pears, need a nearby mate to ensure pollination. If you have room for a single apple or pear tree, a “family” tree, in which three varieties have been grafted onto a rootstock, is ideal.
How to plant and grow fruit trees
You can grow fruit trees in pots that are at least 1 foot in diameter and 1 foot deep. Galvanized trash cans are the perfect size, look surprisingly stylish, and cost fairly little in hardware stores. Heavier options include halved wooden barrels or terracotta pots, while for ultra-light versions consider plastic planters or rubber tubtrugs. Drill drainage holes in the base if they don’t have them already.
You will also need to anchor the tree to some type of support, as a full leaf fruit tree can really catch the wind. Since fruit trees will live for many years, it is best to plant them in a soil-based potting mix that slowly releases nutrients. Place the trees in a sunny spot to get a very good harvest.
Feed potted fruit trees every two weeks, from flowering to mid-autumn, with a diet rich in potash such as liquid algae and keep them well watered. It’s a good idea to mulch the surface of the soil (with shingles or coconut husks, for example) to keep moisture inside. The traditional time for planting fruit trees is in the dormant season from mid-autumn to early spring, but you can choose potted trees all year round. The size required varies depending on the shape and type of fruit tree; it is worth buying from a specialist supplier who will provide you with detailed instructions.
Adapted from The edible balcony by Alex Mitchell
It is the quintessential orchard fruit that can grow like a bush on a rootstock or as an espalier, a U-shaped cord or a double U. For some delicious varieties of snacks, opt for Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp. , which will all pollinate or try Jonagold, Pink Lady, Ashmeads Kernal or Cox. Good kitchen varieties for all of your baking needs (including apple pies, cakes, and more) include Gordon, Liberty, and Sierra Beauty.
A ripe pear is a wonderful thing, but since pears flower early, late frosts can damage their crops. To be on the safe side, cover branches with fleece if they are in bloom when frost is forecast.
Pears can be grown as a bush on a rootstock or as a cordon, espalier, U-shaped or double U-shaped cordon. Good dessert varieties include Bartlett, Moonglow, and Doyenne du Comice.
Modern cherries are self-fertile, so you only need one tree to ensure a good harvest – if you can keep the birds away, that is. The fillet can be a necessary defense as the fruit ripens. Expect beautiful flowers and lots of fruit when the tree is established. Grow cherries as a bush on a rootstock or as a fan against a warm wall.
Good varieties include Rabbits and Stella. If you have a north facing shaded wall, a sour cherry or sour cherry will thrive in a fan shape, producing tart cherries that are excellent when cooked.
These accommodating trees provide heavy harvests with very little demand in return. Cut is minimal (and certainly should never be attempted except in summer, to avoid fungal infection), and most are self-fertile.
The only thing they need is the thinning of the developing fruit. Otherwise, plum trees tend to produce far too many plums one year, followed by nothing the next day. Thin plums in midsummer so that they are about 2 inches apart. Grow plums as a bush on a rootstock or fan. Try greengages for their unique buttery texture and softness.
Peaches and apricots
Once you’ve tasted your first ripe peach or apricot straight from your own tree, there’s no turning back. Such experiences must be repeated and you will have no trouble doing it. As with all potted fruit trees, be sure to buy a tree with the correct rootstock. A good catch is Bonanza; try Pixzee or Pixie-cot for an apricot. All of these can be grown as free-standing trees in pots and require little pruning. Alternatively, they can be grown as fans.
Peaches and apricots are hardy when they are dormant during the winter, but since they bloom in early spring, the flowers are susceptible to frost damage. Bring the tree indoors when it is in bloom if frost is expected, or cover it with horticultural fleece if it is formed against a wall.
Although self-fertile, both trees can benefit from a little help with pollination to ensure you get a good harvest: When the flowers are open, gently dab the pollen with a soft brush and rub it on the surface. surrounding flower. Peach leaf curl is a nasty fungal disease, so if you can find a variety that claims resistance to this disease, buy it.
A sprawling, fan-shaped fig tree in a pot is a majestic sight, and the hand-shaped leaves give off a “figgy” smell if you rub them, especially in hot weather. And then there are the incredibly succulent fruits, which swell all summer long until they all burst to reveal their soft, dark flesh.
Figs are an ideal choice for container growing, as they prefer their roots to be confined, and they are easy to fan out by tying the branches against a warm wall.
To ensure a harvest where your climate is cool, protect berries during the winter by tying sleeves of bubble wrap around them, making sure to leave them open so air can still circulate. Any fruit that is larger than pea size in the fall should be removed and pinched the growing shoots from the tree in early summer so that only five leaves are left per shoot.
Brown turkey is a reliable strain with delicious purple fleshed fruits. Other coupons to try are Panachee and Black Mission. Plant in a soilless potting mix or soil-based mixture in a pot at least 18 inches in diameter. Place in a sunny, sheltered area, water well and feed with liquid algae every two weeks throughout the growing season.
Calamondin orange trees
The Calamondin orange may be the best choice for novice gardeners. These brilliant trees consistently produce intensely fragrant flowers, which turn into small round fruits, too acidic to eat raw, but which make for a delicious tangy marmalade.
They can also be cut into segments and added to cold drinks. The biggest advantage of Calamondin oranges (X Citrofortunella microcarpa), however, is that it is the only citrus that can overwinter indoors. It can even be grown year round indoors.
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