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Dec 16, 2012
Container gardening is becoming more and more popular. Many of us want to grow fruit and vegetables but don’t have space for a garden. Others simply want the convenience and beauty of fruit on their deck or patio. Abundant harvests are easy by following a few basic principles. Most important is to realize that plants in containers depend on you for their care. They don’t have access to the natural soil moisture and fertility provided to plants growing in the ground. Here are some guidelines will give success in growing fruit in pots.
Choose the right size pot. The pot is the vessel in which your plants roots will grow. It should be large enough to contain several years of root growth and should have large drainage holes in the bottom. For most plants, a 7 gallon pot is big enough for 3 to 4 years of growth and a 15 gallon pot should be big enough for 7-8 years. Eventually, no matter how big the pot, it will fill with roots. When that occurs, the plant will be difficult to water and growth will become weaker. Remedying this situation means removing the plant from its pot and severely pruning the roots and top.
Choose the right kind of potting soil. Well drained soil is important for virtually all fruiting plants. Fine propagation mix is great for starting seeds, but for trees and shrubs and vines, a coarser mix containing bark and pumice will help prevent root rot. Another consideration is soil acidity. While most plants are happy in regular potting soil, Tea and Blueberries like a more acid soil. Look for potting soil made for Blueberries and other acid loving plants like Rhododendron and Camellia.
Water sparingly. Once you have potted your new plant, water it in well and wait. Unless you are planting in the heat of summer, it will take some time before your new plant needs another watering. While it is important to not let your plant dry out, it is especially important to not overwater it. If your plant is not rootbound, a deep watering once a week is usually enough even in hot weather.
While almost any plant can be grown in a container, you will be more successful and happier choosing a low vigor, more compact variety. Columnar Apples and other Apple varieties on M-26 dwarf rootstock will produce the easiest to care for potted Apple trees. Negronne, Lattarulla, and Peter’s Honey are good fig varieties for containers. Pineapple Guava, Citrus, Blueberries, Honeyberries, and Strawberries are also attractive, easy to grow fruiting plants for container culture.