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Can I grow fruit in pots?

You don’t need an allotment or a big garden to grow fruit. There are lots of types of fruits that can be grown in pots and planters, Jean Vernon explains.

strawberries growing in balcony container

Growing your own fruit is amazing. It feels like a real luxury to be able to pick fresh fruit from the garden, almost quite decadent. But actually anybody can grow a fruit, even in a small space; you just need to tailor what you grow to the size and types of pots and your growing environment.

Not everyone has room for an orchard, but you don’t need much room to grow some fruit in your garden. Many plants grow best in the ground, where they can allow their roots to reach down into the soil to find water, nutrients and grow with vigour. But there are also lots of plants that have been bred or nurtured to grow in smaller spaces. And pots are a great place to start.

Balcony gardens

If your growing space is a balcony then you will probably need to grow what you can in window boxes and planters. If you have got room for a large planter do think about the weight, especially when the compost is wet.

Make use of ‘self watering’ planters to help you maintain your plants more easily, but always choose pots and planters with as much root space as possible. And don’t expect buckets full of fruit. You might not have the room to process, freeze or store them anyway. It’s always nice to pick a handful of fruit for your morning breakfast or sprinkled on yoghurt for dessert.

  • Window boxes can support alpine strawberries (easy from seed), cape gooseberries (also easy from seed) or ‘normal’ strawberries. In fact growing fruit at altitude keeps them safe from slugs, which also like juicy fruit.
  • Hanging baskets are another fun way to grow strawberries so that their fruit hangs at eye level and you can them ripen.
  • Taller pots with decent root space can support a handful of raspberry canes. Grow early fruiting and autumn fruiting to stagger your crop; raspberries are such an easy crop to grow for great rewards.
  • Blueberries are another perfect fruit for pots, especially as they need specialist ericaceous compost, which you can provide in a container to ensure they grow well.
Raspberry canes growing on patio
Taller pots with enough root space can be used to grow raspberry canes.

Small Garden or Patio Fruit

In a small garden or on a patio you can grow any or all of the balcony fruits above. But you may have more space for a few more pots and planters.

You can choose to grow a fruit tree in a pot as long as it is big and has good drainage. Imagine two tyres stacked on top of each other, that’s about the right size, or half a wooden barrel. But it is vital that you choose your tree carefully. Ideally it should be an apple or a pear growing on what is called a dwarfing rootstock. That means it’s a great fruit variety that has been grafted (natural welding) to a root system that won’t let it get too big. But it also means that you need to ensure it is properly planted and well fed. For apples choose M9 rootstock and for pears Quince C, these will keep the tree to about 6ft. anything else in a small space will grow too big. Look out for patio fruit varieties, or choose family fruit trees where you can have two or three varieties grafted onto one stem. And remember that to get fruit you need a healthy population of pollinators; it’s a good excuse to install a bee house and support your solitary bees. One mason bee does the pollination work of 120 honeybees.

Mason bee pollinating apple blossom
To get fruit you need a healthy population of pollinators.

If you have a very sheltered garden, a greenhouse or a sunny wall, then peaches, apricots and nectarines are great growing in planters. They aren’t always reliably hardy, so it’s important to keep them protected. Planters can be placed on pot trolleys and moved into a sheltered place for the winter, ideally a greenhouse or even into a cool room, but make sure they are outside when the flowers are in bloom so that they attract the right pollinators which are essential for a good crop.

Climbing fruit

Don’t forget about using your vertical surfaces to train fruit. Grapes are a good example and can be pruned to fill a space, or create a shaded seating area. You need strong supports in place to support a vine. But there are other climbers that fruit like the kiwi plant or even passion fruit. Both are attractive plants with the added bonus of a harvest. Look out for thornless blackberries that have been bred to bear huge fruits without the thorns and can be trained up a wire framework.

Grapes growing on patio pergola
Grapevines can create a shaded seating area on your patio.

Feeding and care

When you grow in pots your plants are completely dependent on you for water and nutrients, so it’s really important to give them the best growing conditions. Choose a top quality compost such as Richard Jackson Premium Compost is a great place to start. It’s very important to ensure that your fruit plants are properly watered and not waterlogged. Drainage is essential. Planters can be raised on pot feet to improve drainage.

TIP: Remember that to get fruit you need flowers and the flowers need to be pollinated. Feed your fruit plants with Flower Power Premium Plant Food to enhance flower production and make sure your garden is wildlife friendly for your pollinating friends.


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