Create a potted orchard

Potted orchardWandering into your backyard and picking fruit off a tree is the stuff of gardeners’ dreams. But why stop at one tree? Growing your own fruit is truly addictive. Even where space is at a premium, it’s quite possible to create your own mini orchard. Josh Byrne explains how to get started with the right pot selection.

All fruit trees require a minimum of six hours’ sunlight each day to grow into strong trees, and to produce flowers and fruit. Protection from strong wind is also important, as this can dry out plants and damage delicate flowers, impacting pollination and fruit set.

An advantage of planting in pots is that they can be moved around. When growing in confined spaces, such as courtyards, solar access can vary greatly throughout the year. Using a fridge trolley, pots can be shifted to a new spot with relative ease.

The main considerations when choosing a pot is size, for stability and soil volume. As a guide, a 50L pot is good for trees up to about 1.5m tall. Any taller than this and they can be at risk of blowing over. Keeping the tree adequately fed and watered can also be a challenge, as the pot can soon become root-bound. For larger trees, 70–100L pots should be considered the minimum, or bigger if stability is an issue. Containers should always have drainage holes in the base, and it’s best to use a quality potting mix.

In hot climates, don’t use dark-coloured pots, as these can cause the roots to dry out too quickly. Also avoid pots that taper at the top, making it hard to remove the root ball when re-potting

You will find more growing information, along with which fruit varieties to buy for pots and how to re-pot your fruit tree, in the June issue, on sale now.