What Trees Grow the Best in Pots

trees in pots

The word ‘trees’ evoke images of towering oaks or pines or a forest of tall trees, but many trees can be grown comfortably in large pots.

A tree grown in a container can make the most of a small space or add a focal point to a patio or deck.

Adding container citrus trees or fruit trees to a landscape design provides food to enjoy as well as the potential for shade depending on the size of the tree.

There are endless tree selection possibilities, especially with dwarf rootstock.

This article begins with the preparation necessary for potted trees and then details some specific types of trees that do well in containers before closing with a few tips on caring for them.

Preparing for Potted Trees

The first step is to select a proper container for the tree. Common materials include plastic, clay, and terracotta.

Plastic is a lighter material so it can be ideal for trees that need to be moved or are on a balcony. One drawback is that plastic pots can more easily tip in strong winds.

Clay pots are heavier, making them more stable in strong winds and for larger trees.

The clay pots need to be evaluated to make sure they are frost-resistant as well as heat compatible otherwise the pot could crack or the tree roots could be damaged.

Terracotta is similar to clay, it’s heavier but needs to be frost-resistant. In addition, any pot chosen needs to have adequate drainage at the bottom.

Secondly, soil is important to every plant, but it is especially crucial for potted trees. The soil needs to not compact or hold too much water because the tree will become root-bound and waterlogged.

Also, the soil will need to be fertilized as the tree is isolated from the surrounding nutrients it would otherwise have when planted in the ground.

It is also recommended to scrape away layers of topsoil and fertilizer each spring to add more nutrient-rich soil.

The third step is to choose a tree, or several, that work with your aesthetic as well as the landscape and hardiness zone. The next section will detail several of the most common choices in container trees.

Japanese Maples

There are numerous varieties of Japanese Maples to choose from. Japanese Maples are a popular choice to keep in pots because they are slow-growing trees that often reach only 5 to 10 feet in height and they offer a wonderful variety of colors in the fall, from bright reds and yellows to even burgundy.

Full sun to partial shade allows these trees to grow the healthiest and they need, depending on size and age, about 2 gallons of water whenever the soil is dry.  

They also require minimal pruning and shaping maintenance but will need to be in a place that doesn’t get too much intense midday sun or strong winds.

The Japanese Maple is a great selection for any landscape because it adds unique colors and leaf shapes.

Olive Tree

Olive trees are an excellent choice for a warmer climate as they are native to the Mediterranean Sea area.

One major benefit to Olive trees is that their roots stay near the surface meaning they easily adapt to life in a container. Pruning is still necessary to keep them in pots because their regular height is over 20 feet tall.

Olive trees will need to be in a place that receives full sun and may need to be brought into a warmer area if winters are too cold.

They will also need 1.5-2.5 gallons of water whenever the soil is dry or very slightly moist.

An Olive tree adds character to any landscape and can be the focal point of a Mediterranean style home.

Citrus Trees

citrus trees

Many types of citrus trees are popular to have in containers including lemons, oranges, kumquats, and limes.

Citrus trees add a delightful pop of color against a background of green leaves and provide fruit every year if cared for. There are many dwarf varieties to choose from that will require minimal pruning to maintain.

All citrus trees will need full sun to thrive as well as consistent watering therefore it is a good idea to grow them in a more porous pot, like terracotta, because it can be easy to either under-water or over-water them.

Citrus trees are a wonderful way to begin creating an edible landscape or to just add color and texture to a relatively green centric area.

Fruit Trees

fruit trees

Transforming a patio or deck into a small orchard by having potted fruit trees is not only a great use of a small space but can also be a focal point of an edible landscape design.

Two of the most common fruit trees to grow in pots are the Apple tree and the Peach tree. There are dwarf apple trees or you can choose a regular apple variety that has been grown on dwarf rootstock.

Apple trees tend to grow and fruit quickly. It is also best to have at least two apple trees so they can cross-pollinate. Peach trees grow especially well in containers.

They also fruit well and need a lot of sun. Both apple trees and peach trees will need to be watered frequently, especially during the growing season.

Tips for Care

Tree and Shrub Care

Gecko Green offers tree and shrub care services. We can help you care for your trees and keep them free from insects and disease.

Our tree and shrub care in DFW relieves you of the burden and responsibility it takes for proper maintenance and upkeep.

If you need more guidance, check out our tree and shrub care guide and contact us for a free quote today!

Call for a free quote today!