Who says you need a field to grow an orchard? Dwarf fruit trees grow brilliantly in pots, giving you a mini orchard in your own backyard…
- Apples, pears and plums grown on a dwarfing rootstock only reach around two metres tall. Try an ‘M27’ rootstock for apples, a ‘Quince C’ for pears or a ‘Pixy’ for a plum, and if you get a self-fertile variety you won’t need to worry about hand pollination either. Try Apple ‘Discovery’ or ‘Bramley’ for cookers, Pear ‘Concorde’ or ‘Conference’ and Plum ‘Victoria’.
- Choose a sheltered spot with plenty of sunlight and a container around 24 inches in diameter, with good drainage. Bare root trees also benefit from a good soak in a bucket before planting.
- Half fill your pot with well-rotted compost or peat free, soil-based compost and place your tree in the hole. In-fill with soil and, if it’s a windy site, give it a stake too – small stems can easily snap.
- Keep them well watered and fed, a mulch around the base helps retain water, and in the spring, throw a little fleece over the buds if a frost threatens so you can protect the developing fruit.
- Dwarf stocks need little pruning but it’s always worth checking them over to remove dead, diseased or crossing wood to allow plenty of air and light in.
- It’s worth thinning fruit on apples, pears and plums – to two fruits per cluster – to allow the tree to put all its energies into larger, better tasting fruit on its small frame.