When growing your own fruit, the secret to success is to choose fruits that will crop well in your area and your conditions, and be as generous as you can when it comes to their welfare. If there’s one thing that all fruit-producing plants need it’s is an abundance of food and drink. Drought and hunger are the prime causes of failure, whether you are cultivating an extensive orchard or just a few pots.
It stands to reason, then, that that large pots filled with good compost offer fruiting plants the best chance of producing a good yield.
Most fruit trees (as opposed to bushes, which are usually grown on their own roots) are grafted onto a rootstock, which anchors them well and controls their vigour. Choose a rootstock that will suit the size of tree you want to grow and you should be successful. Those grafted on dwarfing rootstocks will remain compact. Read more about growing dwarf fruit trees and our recommended trees for pots.
Choosing pots for fruit crops
Use large containers so the compost dries out more slowly in hot weather and hangs onto nutrients for longer. Large terracotta pots offer stability, thanks to their weight, and are longer lasting than wooden tubs, though the latter are cheaper to buy. The portability of containers and the fact that you can fit many into a small area makes them great fun.
More on growing fruit:
- How to prune summer-fruiting raspberries
- How to take fruit bush cuttings
- 10 of the best fruit crops for shade
Discover Alan’s pick of the best fruiting crops for pots, below.
Apples grown on dwarfing rootstocks will do well in large pots and tubs, as long as they are well fed and watered. Choose a self-fertile variety grafted onto M9 (up to 2.4m) or the slightly more vigorous but still dwarfing M26 (3m). Bear in mind that they will have a relatively limited life, but can be regularly potted on in John Innes No. 3.
Try dessert apples: ‘Braeburn’, ‘Discovery’, ‘James Grieve’
Cooking apples: ‘Golden Noble’, ‘Lane’s Prince Albert’.
These diminutive fruits are becoming more and more popular. Grow in lime-free ericaceous compost and be generous with food and water. Grow a couple of blueberry varieties to ensure effective pollination. They are happy in sun or dappled shade, they enjoy a high-nitrogen feed each spring. Water with rainwater in hard-water areas.
Try: ‘Bluecrop’, ‘Sunshine Blue’, ‘Top Hat’.
Few fruits are as sensuous as figs when eaten fresh from the tree and warmed by the sun. Figs crop best when their roots are restricted, so respond well to being grown in a large pot or tub in full sun. The pea-sized fruits that come through winter are the ones that will fatten and ripen.
Try: ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘Brunswick’, ‘White Marseilles’.
Tasty in pies, jams or as a fool. The dessert varieties are sweeter and can be eaten raw. These fruits can be grown as standards or half-standards on a single stem; otherwise on a short leg to keep them clear of the ground. Gooseberries are useful as standards to add height to a display of pot plants.
Try Dessert: ‘Whinham’s Industry’, a reliable general-purpose ‘goosegog’, or ‘Hinnonmaki Red’ and ‘Pax’.
Either in tiered or ordinary pots, you’ll enjoy a surprisingly good yield from strawberries, especially if you plant several varieties that fruit from early summer to autumn. Remember to remove the long runners and to protect the flowers from frost.
Try Perpetual: ‘Aromel’, ‘Flamenco’ Mid: ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Talisman’ Late: ‘Pegasus’.