Apples, pears, plums, cherries and even lemons. If you don’t have a large garden, growing your own fruit and fruit trees might seem like an impossible dream and something only for the orchard owner. In fact, if you have even the smallest of outdoor spaces, you may well be able to enjoy your own harvest of fresh fruit by planting dwarf or patio fruit trees. They don’t take much more care than their larger orchard cousins.
What’s Your Favourite Fruit?
Fruit always tastes better when it’s homegrown, so before you get started, spend a little time at your local garden centre or nursery deciding which fruit you’d like to grow and how many fruit trees you’ve got a room for. Because you want a great harvest of juicy flavoursome fruit, it is better if you are able to ensure your patio fruit trees will be south facing, so be realistic about what you can fit in.
Your Fruit Tree Container
Unless you happen to have a patio which includes flower beds, you are of course going to need a nice solid, but a free-draining container for each tree. A pot or container that is about 45 - 50 cm diameter should be large enough and fill it with good soil-based compost and plant up your chosen fruit trees. It may help if you fill the bottom with crocks if you are worried about drainage.
As your trees are restricted to containers they are going to need a little love and attention in order to bear the best fruit. Add a good feed or fertiliser which is high in potassium in spring and summer and check the particular tree you have chosen for any recommendations as to what feeds might suit it best.
Protect your tree and any early blossom against frost and very harsh winters and check whether or if you need other plants to help pollination.
You’ll also need to water your patio fruit trees daily, so keep a careful eye on the containers particularly during the growing season and hot weather.
As with all plants, come the winter, take a little time to check them over. Are there any dead or diseased branches that need cutting out or do they need a little thinning and shaping. But don’t cull or cut back too violently and try to ensure you keep a nice shape.
Making The Most Of Your Trees
While some fruit trees can grow in containers indefinitely, others need a bit more attention. If you notice that your harvest or yield is getting smaller in size or quality, then it may be time to re-pot. This might be anywhere between 2 to 7 years after original planting and it’s an easy enough job.
During the trees, dormant season (i.e. when it has no leaves, flowers, fruit or buds) just remove the tree from the pot and tease out and thin the roots a little. Then refill the container with fresh compost and replant.
With luck and ongoing care as described above, your fruit tree should enjoy a new lease of life and start producing some bumper crops once more.
There is such a diverse choice of dwarf or patio fruit trees to choose from these days that if you fancy it, you can get creative and train your trees. Perhaps you just want them to arch around a doorway, lattice out over a back wall or work their way around a trellis or pergola.
Again, spend some time online or at your garden centre discovering what’s available and would work best in your space and you might be pleasantly surprised about just how much you can achieve in your back yard, along your fence or up to some unsightly posts.
Fruit Tree Pollination
Many fruit trees require a compatible donor for them to be able to successfully fruit. Fear not though as this will often happen naturally, especially if you are growing in an urban location. If you are not and you are concerned about finding a pollinating partner for your fruit tree then you can grow a self-pollinating tree.
A great example of a self-pollinating tree is a dual-tree. This is two varieties of fruit growing in the same plant that is a perfect idea for a small garden.
Enjoy The Fruits Of Your Labour
Even without the sweet pleasures of homegrown fruit, patio fruit trees are worth the effort you put in. Their blossom is normally a joy as it heralds the arrival of spring and patio trees are normally really attractive to look at with their bright colours and fruit.
Of course, there are the health benefits of having fresh fruit on tap and the money-saving side of things too, all of which add up to make fruit trees a really great choice for your patio growing.
Have you been enjoying homegrown fruit and the indulgence of heavily laden patio trees? Have you got the perfect patio? Let us know on our social media sites, or leave a comment below!