How to grow in containers

Everglades Farms - Growing Fruit Trees in Containers: Tips for Success

Welcome to the world of container gardening, where you can enjoy the beauty and delicious rewards of fruit trees, even in limited spaces. Growing fruit trees in containers allows for portability, protection from extreme weather, and the joy of harvesting fresh fruits right on your patio or balcony. To ensure your fruit trees thrive and produce a bountiful harvest, we've compiled essential guidelines and expert tips for your container gardening journey.

1. Choosing the Right Container: Select a container that accommodates your fruit tree's root system and allows room for growth. Containers made of plastic, metal, clay, ceramic, wood, or other materials found in nurseries and garden supply stores work well. Ensure the container has adequate drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

2. Potting Mix and Planting: Use a high-quality commercial potting mix or create a mixture of 1 part sand, 1 part peat, and 1 part bark or perlite. This blend ensures good drainage while providing essential nutrients. Loosen the root system of the plant if it's pot-bound, facilitating root proliferation. Plant the tree at the correct depth it was previously grown, and water thoroughly after planting.

3. Placement and Sunlight: Most fruit crops thrive in full sunlight, so place your container fruit tree in an area receiving 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Avoid sudden changes in light exposure, especially when moving plants from partial shade to direct sunlight. Gradual acclimation is necessary for indoor plants before moving them outside during warmer months and vice versa during cold spells.

4. Temperature Considerations: Tropical and subtropical fruit trees are sensitive to freezing temperatures. Protect your plants from severe cold by moving them indoors or covering them temporarily with blankets or other materials during frosty nights. Avoid placing indoor plants near drafts caused by doors or heating ducts.

5. Proper Watering Practices: Overwatering is a common issue in container gardening. Water your fruit tree only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. The frequency of watering depends on various factors, including plant type, container size, temperature, and humidity. Ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogged soil.

6. Fertilizing for Healthy Growth: Provide your container fruit tree with balanced nutrition using water-soluble fertilizers according to label instructions. Excess fertilizer can lead to overgrowth, poor fruiting, and salt accumulation. Look for fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper in balanced proportions.

7. Pruning and Maintenance: Fruit trees generally maintain their shape with minimal pruning. Remove leggy branches and encourage branching for bushier growth. If a plant becomes too large for its container, consider pruning it back heavily to rejuvenate it. Smaller plants require less water and fertilizer.

8. Fruitfulness and Harvesting: With proper care, most fruit crops will produce fruits in containers. However, expect yields to be smaller than those from trees grown in the ground. Some fruit trees need to reach a certain size before they fruit, which can be limiting in containers. Be patient, and you'll soon be rewarded with delightful homegrown fruits.

9. A Word of Realism: While container-grown fruit trees can be successful and rewarding, they might not achieve the same level of growth and productivity as those grown in the ground. Growing fruit trees in containers requires attentive care and optimized conditions to support healthy development and fruiting.

Enjoy the Journey: Container gardening allows you to experience the joys of nurturing fruit trees, watching them blossom, and savoring the fruits of your labor. At Everglades Farms, we take pride in supporting you throughout your gardening journey. For specific care tips or any questions you may have, feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable team.

We hope these guidelines will set you on a path to flourishing container fruit trees. Explore our selection of tropical and subtropical fruit trees perfectly suited for container gardening. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the wonders of growing your own delicious harvest!

Reference: This article is based on Publication HS57, part of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 1994. Revised August 2011 and March 2016. Reviewed January 2020. For the most current version, visit the EDIS website at

About the Author: Jeffrey G. Williamson is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. With expertise in horticulture, his passion lies in helping gardeners achieve success in growing their dream fruit trees.