How to Grow Fruit Trees in Containers

Container gardening has become a popular method of landscaping for those with limited space – or those who simply enjoy the mobility of containers. They are an excellent option when sunlight is limited (place it in the sunniest patch, regardless of whether there is soil there or not!) or when you move residences frequently. A great variety of fruit trees grow well in our South Florida climate, and soon you could be growing fruit in your own backyard.

We recommend buying saplings rather than seeds–most fruit trees do not produce fruit until their second or third season, so you will be able to harvest fruit sooner with a sapling. If you are in it for the long haul, however, you can grow your tree from a seed and experience the gratification of reaping your first fruit after years of patience and TLC. Keep in mind some HOAs do not allow homeowners to grow fruit trees, so be sure to check your neighborhood rules!

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Fruit Trees and Container Specs

The size of the container limits the productivity of a fruit tree– a container that is too small will result in a tree that produces little to no fruit.

  • For a bountiful harvest, begin with a container that is at minimum 5 gallons, then move the tree to 15, 20, or even 30 gallons as it grows, depending on the species. A quick search online or conversation with the gardening experts at Big Earth Landscape Supply will provide information specific to your desired fruit tree.
  • Once you have your container, make sure it has proper drainage. Drill holes in the bottom if it does not come with any, and add a layer about 1-2” thick of gravel to the bottom of the container to minimize the risk of soggy roots. Placing mesh at the bottom of the container will also aid in soil retention.
  • When potting your fruit tree, use potting soil as opposed to top soil from your garden. Potting mixes are created specifically for containers to prevent compaction, hold tighter to nutrients to slow the leaching process and retain moisture. If you try to use top soil in your container, you also risk introducing pests and diseases to the fruit tree.

Choosing a Fruit Tree

Florida is famous for our stellar citrus and other unique tropical fruits. In order to successfully grow fruit in a container, choose a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety; full-size varieties rarely grow well in pots. Don’t worry–though not comparable to a tree grown in the ground, dwarf fruit trees still produce a decent harvest. They are bred to remain at a small height, which makes container-living simple and keeps you from needing a large ladder to reach fruits at the top of the tree.

The University of Florida maintains an excellent list of fruit trees that grow well in containers. Some that grow best include dwarf varieties of banana and avocado, passionfruit, kei apple, coffee, guava, pineapple, lemon, key lime, and kumquat. When selecting a species, note whether it is self-pollinating or if it requires cross-pollination, as some species need two trees to produce fruit.

Maintenance of your Fruit Trees

Fruit trees grown in containers benefit greatly from spring pruning. This encourages bushy growth and productivity. Be careful not to overwater, and keep an eye on the nutrient levels in the soil. Careful attention to meeting the light, water, and nutrient requirements of your fruit trees will result in a delicious harvest for years to come.

Come to Big Earth Landscape Supply has everything you need to begin a beautiful container garden – from urns to gardening tools. Stop by today to learn more about creative and unique ways to add beauty to your property.