Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Fruit & Nut Trees

Fruit Trees in Containers (page 2 of 4)

by William Ross

Soil Mixes

A good container mix ensures thorough soaking and good drainage to nourish and support the plant. When water runs right through or down the edges of the mix, leaving dry places, the plant should be repotted in the same-sized pot or in a larger one.

Here is a good container mix for growing fruit:

  • 4 cubic feet of dampened peat moss or rotted pine bark
  • 2 cubic feet of sand (washed sand or horticultural sand is fine)
  • 2 cubic feet of perlite
  • 2 cubic feet of compost
  • 1 pound of dolomite lime
  • 3-1/2 pounds of Osmocote 17-6-10

Purchased container mix is available in bags of 3 cubic feet ($15 wholesale, $30 retail). Read the ingredients, and add sand to make the mix heavier if necessary. Pro-Mix, Customblen, and Fafard brand mixes don't contain sand, but Metro-Mix 200 does.

Fertilizing and Watering

Fruit production requires regular fertilizing all year long. Monthly feeding is a good regim to maintain. Cut back the nitrogen in fall and winter to avoid encouraging new growth in those seasons. If your container mix includes a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote, it's good for several months. After that time, you have many choices, from the garden store's one-size-fits-all to the specific fertilizers suggested by the tree-supplier. Ask his or her advice, and follow the instructions that came with the fertilizer.

The most important part of watering is proper drainage. Between waterings, the soil should dry well, but it shouldn't dry out completely, because dryness can cause fruit to drop. An outdoor container-plant in the sun can dry out very quickly and needs more than one watering per day. Protection from the sun reduces soil temperature, and burying the container allows rooting into the ground through drainage holes for less dependence on daily waterings.

Excess wetness or poor drainage can lead to root-rot (Phytophthora) in susceptible plants. However, you should overwater moderately once a month to leach out fertilizer residues.

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