When choosing your tree, search for varieties described as ‘dwarfing’ – a ‘vigorous’ tree will grow too quickly to be happy in a pot, while an ‘extremely dwarfing’ tree will be too weak to cope with growing in a pot.
You could also look for a multi-stemmed tree. Rather than a standard lollipop shape, multi-stem trees have several trunks growing from near the base, which reduces the overall height the tree will grow to. Fruit trees are often sold attached to a rootstock that controls how big they eventually grow.
After four or five years, you’ll most likely need to repot your tree, either into a slightly larger pot or you can root prune the tree and replant it into the same pot with fresh compost.
More garden tree content:
- How to root prune a potted tree (video guide)
- Guide to fruit tree rootstocks
- How to plant an apple tree in a pot
Discover some of the best trees to grow in pots and containers, below.
Apple (Malus domestica)
Spring blossom, followed by fruit in the autumn. Look for an apple growing on M26 (dwarfing) rootstock.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida f. rubra)
Slow-growing with long-lasting, pink bracts in spring and purple autumn leaves. The conical shape of this cornus adds architectural interest.
Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Although Italian cypress grows very tall, it can be clipped to keep it in check. Create a formal look with a matching pair.
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
Japanese maples are slow-growing and come in a huge variety of colours. Keep them in a sheltered position, out of strong winds and hot midday sun.
Snowy mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii)
This delicate, small tree boasts spring blossom and vibrant autumn colour. Snowy mespilus is often grown multi-stemmed.
Olive (Olea europaea)
Olive trees are ideal for sheltered urban plots and should be moved into a greenhouse or porch when the weather gets very cold.
Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin)
The Persian silk tree has finely divided, mimosa-like leaves and flowers that resemble pink shaving-brushes, which give this hardy, shrubby tree an exotic look. Copes well with full sun and heat.