Just about any fruit tree or soft fruit including berries can grow in containers if you start with the right plants and growing conditions. Dwarf apple, peach, and plum trees are just a few options. Blueberries, strawberries, and currants also do well. Browse the list of suggestions and what to look for to make the best choices for your growing space.
Along with fruit, you can grow a good assortment of herbs and vegetables in containers from spring to fall. With adequate light, a patio or balcony can become a thriving food garden.
12 Fruits to Grow in Containers
- Peach, Nectarine, Apricot
- Lemon, Lime, Orange
- Raspberry and Blackberry
The best fruit trees for containers are fruit trees that have been grafted onto dwarf rootstock.
You can also grow many types of soft fruits (fruits that don’t grow on trees) in pots.
So long as adequate sun is available, the container can be placed on a patio, deck, balcony or anywhere else you have space.
Check how your fruit tree pollinates to be sure it can flower and then fruit.
- Self-fertile plants generally do not require another plant for pollination although it is often recommended as insurance.
- Self-sterile plants like blueberries require a different blueberry variety nearby to ensure pollination.
All of them should be available to pollinators like bees, other insects, and wind to assist moving pollen from one flower to another.
Have a look at the plant options below.
Trees and Shrubs
What fruit trees grow well in containers?
Most apple trees require a cold climate although there are some milder climate varieties available.
When growing a single tree, be sure the tree is self-fertile (can pollinate itself) or choose a dwarf family tree with several varieties grafted onto one rootstock.
Rootstocks have codes like M26 (dwarf) and M7 or G202 (semi-dwarf), and each one has certain traits. A good local nursery that specializes in fruit trees can help you make the best choice for container growing.
There are many varieties of apples and the choice may come down to what you want the apples for: eating fresh, apple sauce, pies, and so on. The flavor and consistency may guide your choice.
Some favorites include Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Cox, Gordon, and Liberty.
Crab apple trees can also grow in pots.
Beautiful blooms! That’s my number one reason for growing a cherry tree. Even if the birds take the fruit, I still get weeks of gorgeous spring flowers.
There are both cherry trees and shrubs available in dwarf sizes for container growing.
Most modern cherry trees are self-fertile.
Classic old-timers like sweet Bing cherries, which originated in the 1800s, require cross-pollination with a compatible variety blooming nearby.
Like many fruit trees, cherry trees that produce sweet cherries like a lot of sun. Sour varieties, used for cooking, will tolerate some shade.
With shallow roots, dwarf varieties do well in pots but you must keep on top of the watering so they don’t dry out.
Varieties: Bing, Lapins, Gisela, Krymsk, Stella, Carmine Jewel (shrub)
There are both tender and hardy fig trees. Here in Ontario, Canada (zone 6), I grow Chicago figs which are hardy down to zone 5.
When you choose a fig tree, consider both the current growing needs and how big the tree can get.
I keep my fig trees in pots that are approximately 14-inches wide and deep. Instead of increasing the pot size every few years to accommodate growth, I do what is called root pruning.
This involves sliding the root ball out of the pot and trimming back the roots by about a third.
The plant is then returned to the pot with fresh potting mix. After root pruning, I always notice a good growth spurt and extra fruit production.
While peach, nectarine, and apricot trees can be self-fertile, it’s always good to have more than one nearby.
Keep your potted trees where pollinators like bees and other insects can visit the flowers.
These trees may require repotting every two to three years.
Peach Varieties: Golden Gem, Garden Gold.
Nectarine Varieties: Fantasia, Nectarcrest
If you want to grow pears in containers, grow two, or have a compatible mate nearby. These guys do best with cross-pollination.
Pears tend to be early bloomers so you may need to cover early spring flowers with winter fleece, also called a floating row cover or frost cloth, at night.
Look for bush pears on dwarf rootstock for a fairly compact plant.
Varieties: Bartlett, Moonglow
Plum is one fruit tree that needs little or no pruning.
Most are self-fertile and the one task required is to thin the fruit in spring. Otherwise you get a lot of small sour plums instead of fewer, bigger sweet ones.
Unlike other dwarf fruit trees that can max out at around 6 to 8-feet tall, plum trees in containers can reach upward of ten feet. There may be smaller varieties available, but last I checked, a smaller rootstock had not been found.
Varieties: Prunus domestica Johnson (dwarf tree), beach plum (Prunus maritima) (shrub).
If you can provide warm growing conditions and light all year-round, citrus and other tropical trees are another option for container growing.
For citrus trees, if you want to produce fruit, start with a grafted tree.
I also like to save seeds from fruit and grow lemons and oranges as houseplants.
Soft Fruits for Pots
One of the advantages to growing fruit in containers is you can control what type of soil is used.
Blueberries like a slightly lower pH level than many plants and lots of root space.
Because they are self-sterile, you will need to grow two or more different varieties to ensure pollination.
There’s plenty of delicious options: red, white, and black currants are all available in varieties that grow nicely in containers.
Choose your favorite or grow one of each. They are self-fertile so you don’t have to worry about pollination.
Gooseberries do best out of direct wind with plenty of sunshine. There are also varieties that fruit in part shade.
Most gooseberries are self-fertile but some are not. Be sure to check the plant tag information so you know whether you’ll need one or two plants.
And don’t forget to add a granular, organic fertilizer (tree-tone for fruit trees, fish emulsion, or kelp are some options) to all your container fruit and berry plants to replenish the soil throughout the growing season.
I grouped these two together because I find the care is similar for both.
For raspberries, check for summer and autumn fruiting varieties.
They are self-fertile so no worries there.
When choosing blackberries, look for a variety like Loch Maree, specifically recommended for pots. Often the thorn-less, less vigorous growers are the best option.
There are lots of options for strawberries including perpetual or ever-bearing varieties that provide two harvests a year.
Alpine strawberries produce tiny fruits and can grow in window boxes.
I much prefer growing strawberries in containers to control the soil and keep them out of reach from various garden critters.
Fruits we grow annually like watermelon and cucumber can also grow in containers.
Use a nice, big box with drainage and check on the plant daily to ensure it grows in the direction you want it to.
I like to grow them up trellis and support the heavy fruit with scraps of t-shirts tied to the supports.
- Small space growing
- Control over soil conditions
- Portable: use a plant trolley to move plant as needed
- Easy to cover to protect from frosts or birds
- Accessible for pest removal
- Requires regular watering and fertilizer
- Smaller plants mean fewer fruits produced and shorter lifespan than regular fruit trees
- May need repotting every few years or root pruning
- Containers can be heavy to move
- Choose a fruit tree or bush that can grow, mature, and ripen fruit within your growing season.
- Grow what you have room for: consider the required pot size (with drainage holes), weight of the container, and future height and width of the tree.
Large potted trees (25-gallon size) can weigh approximately 150 lbs.
- Container fruit plants grow on dwarf rootstock. This site has useful information on rootstocks.
Each rootstock has different traits.
- Buy from a trusted local nursery or get bare root plants by mail order.
- Use a plant trolley with wheels for easy moving.
- Provide adequate sun, soil, water, air flow, and fertilizer. Plant labels should have specific instructions.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛