Growing an apple tree in a pot is a great way to enjoy fruit even when you have limited space on your balcony or in your garden. It is possible provided that you choose an appropriate variety that does not produce spreading crowns or large root systems. Growing fruit trees in pots offers several possibilities. First of all, growing a tree in a pot, you can place it in a good, sunny place sheltered from the wind. You can also change the exposure at any time - for example, in winter or in the event of spring frosts, you can hide the tree in the basement or garage, which will protect the buds from frost damage. One of the advantages of such an undertaking is also its decorative aspect. Here are some simple steps that will help you grow an apple tree in a pot:
- Choose the right pot
Choose a large and deep pot to provide adequate space for the apple tree’s roots. A tree will grow well in a pot with a capacity of about 30-40 litres. Planting a tree in too large a cover hinders mobility. The pot should have drainage holes at the bottom to allow water to drain. This is very important: the pot should have drainage, and if it does not, a drainage layer of stones or expanded clay should be placed on the bottom.
- Choose the right variety
Some apple varieties are more suitable to be grown in pots than others. Look for semi-dwarf or dwarf varieties that have smaller space requirements. Apple tree varieties to be grown in pots are usually different from those planted in the garden. These are columnar or miniature varieties. Such trees do not grow as big and have a smaller root system. An example of a variety suitable for growing in a pot is the mini apple tree ‘Delegrina’. It is a small tree that grows to approximately 1.8 m after a dozen or so years. It grows slowly and it is branchy. The crown is shaped like a pyramid, it requires slight pruning.
- Choose the right substrate
Choose a good quality potting substrate that will ensure adequate drainage and access to nutrients. You can use a gardening mixture or a mixture dedicated to fruit trees and shrubs. It is worth ensuring good soil in the pot from the beginning. It is recommended to use a substrate rich in nutrients. You can also use soil from your garden, but it should be mixed with compost. Plants will remain in such an environment for a long time, so they need to be regularly nourished and enriched with nutrients.
- Planting an apple tree
Place drainage at the bottom of your pot and then fill it in approximately 2/3 with a suitable substrate. Gently remove the apple tree from the pot it was purchased in, remove excess soil from the roots and place it in your pot. Adjust the level of the seedling so that the root collar is at ground level. Finally, press the soil in the pot firmly and water abundantly.
Ensure that the tree planted in the pot is regularly watered. Remember not to flood the pot with water. Maintain consistent moisture, but avoid over-soaking the roots. Plants in pots should be watered quite often because a small amount of soil dries out quickly.
- Lighting and temperature
An apple tree needs full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Place the pot in a place where it will get adequate sunlight and be protected from strong winds. Avoid places in depressions where frost hollows may occur, which may cause trees to freeze in winter or their flowers to freeze in spring.
Fertilize your apple tree in the pot regularly, using fertilizers specifically formulated for fruit or a general gardening mix. Follow the directions provided on the packaging to maintain healthy growth and fruiting. Composts, biohumus, and ready-made fertilizers for fruit trees will also work well for the fertilization of potted plants.
Prune your apple tree regularly to maintain its shape and encourage growth of new shoots. Remove dead or diseased branches as well as those that are too dense to provide better ventilation and access to light. Dwarf varieties do not require pruning, but columnar varieties do. When pruning trees, you should shorten the internode and possibly the lateral shoots.
- Protection against pests and diseases
Check your apple tree regularly for the presence of pests and diseases. If you notice problems, take appropriate measures - for example biological and natural agents.
- Harvesting fruit
Apple trees will begin to bear fruit after a few years. Monitor the development of the fruit and harvest it when it is ripe. Check the appropriate harvest time for a given apple species and variety.
Remember that growing an apple tree in a pot requires a little more attention and care than growing it in a traditional garden. However, enjoying your own apples from your balcony or garden is worth the effort. The apple tree is the most famous and important fruit tree in Europe. Varieties of apples from apple trees grown in Europe are sold, eaten and appreciated all over the world.