Think you need a large garden in order to grow fruit? Then think again. Many fruits, including apples, cherries and strawberries, will grow well in pots. That means you can grow your own fruit in a small courtyard garden, on a patio or even a balcony.
How to grow fruit in pots
Many of today’s compact fruit cultivars and modern rootstocks produce smaller bushes and trees, and are geared towards smaller gardens. Choose rootstocks and varieties recommended for growing in pots, below, and give them the very best chance by placing your pots in the best possible spot – most fruits thrive in sunshine.
Fruit trees, shrubs and plants grown in pots will need watering and feeding more regularly than those planted in the ground. Keep your fruit in pots well watered and fed, and you’ll soon be harvesting your own delicious crops.
Browse our list of the 10 best fruits to grow in pots and containers, below.
Thanks to dwarf rootstocks, apples now grow well in pots. Grow them in as large a pot as you have space for and give them a sheltered, sunny spot. If you only have room for one plant, choose a self-fertile variety or a ‘family tree’, on to which several apple tree varieties are grafted.
Pot size: 45-50cm wide
Recommended rootstocks: M26 or M9
Blackcurrants are attractive plants and the flowers are useful to bees. Mix a several handfuls of grit into the compost and place in full sun. To encourage plants to develop shoots from the base, plant them deep, about 6cm below the soil mark of the original container.
Pot size: 45-50cm wide
Recommended varieties: ‘Ben Sarek’, ‘Ben Connan’
Blueberries need acidic soil, which is easy to provide in a pot (choose a peat-free ericaceous mix). They also have pretty fruits and flowers, and attractive autumn leaves. Give them a sheltered, sunny spot and water with rainwater rather than tap water if possible. Protect the ripe fruits from birds.
Pot size: 30cm
Recommended varieties: ‘Ozarkblue’, ‘Duke’
Cherries bear masses of blossom in spring, plus summer fruits and often vivid leaf colour in autumn. Sweet varieties need sun, while sour varieties, such as Morello cherries, tolerate more shade. They are shallow rooted, so water well in their first year and in any dry spells.
Pot size: 60cm wide
Recommended rootstocks: ‘Gisela 5’ for sweet cherries, ‘Colt’ for sour
Figs are perfect for containers as they fruit better when their growth is restricted. Give them a warm, sunny spot and keep well watered. Not all figs are fully hardy in the UK, so make sure you choose a hardy variety, recommended below.
Pot size: 35-45cm wide
Recommended varieties: ‘Brown Turkey’ or ‘Brunswick’
Gooseberries are very productive, so you’ll get plenty of fruit in small space. They grow best in a sunny, sheltered spot, although they will bear some fruits in shade. Leave space around the pot as gooseberries to ensure good air flow around the plants.
Pot size: 30cm wide
Recommended varieties: ‘Greenfinch’, ‘Invicta’
Peaches and nectarines
Peach and nectarine trees are hardy, but their flowers are not, so make sure you grow them in a sunny, sheltered spot if you want them to bear fruit. Cover the tree with fleece when the flowers appear, to protect them. Repot every two years.
Pot size: 45cm wide
Recommended rootstocks: St Julien A’, ‘Pixy’ and ‘Bonanza’
Plums in pots can also be moved to the right spot to protect early flowers from frost, covering with fleece if necessary. Plums need good drainage so add plenty of grit to your compost. Choose a self-fertile variety if you only have room for one plant.
Pot size: 60cm wide
You can grow both summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries in pots, enabling you to enjoy your harvest for several weeks. If space is limited, go for summer fruiting varieties, which are less bushy. Give them a sheltered, sunny spot.
Pot size: Three summer-fruiting plants will fit in a 30cm pot
Recommended varieties: ‘Glen Ample’, ‘Glen Moy’
Strawberries are perfect for pots. Plant in late summer or early autumn and give them a sunny position. Make sure the crown is level with the surface of the compost.
Pot size: Any container, at least 10cm deep
Recommended varieties: ‘Florence’, ‘Pegasus’, ‘Aromel’
Other ideas for fruit in small spaces
If you’re growing fruit trees in a small space, try training them as espaliers, fans, cordons, standards or stepovers. These take up hardly any room and will reward you with good harvests. Discover three ways to train a fruit tree.