There are many fruits and berries that grow nicely in containers. If your garden space is limited or you have poor soil quality, container growing is an excellent option. I’ve listed ten good choices along with a few growing tips to consider.
If you are interested in food growing, you can see more outdoor veggie, herb, and fruit-growing tips here.
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Containers Are the Answer
I’m pretty sure you can call me a garden container preacher. After struggling with so many garden problems over the years, from rock-hard clay and extreme slopes (old garden) to pure sand devoid of organic life (new garden), I’ve concluded that answer to all of them is containers growing.
Growing in containers gives you control over the soil, size, and location. The only real drawback is the need to replenish the soil each year, but, if you have horrible garden soil like I do, you’re doing that all the time anyways!
10 Fruits & Berries to Grow in Containers
Many dwarf fruit trees like apple, fig, and cherry, as well as berry bushes grow very nicely in containers, and, if you have vertical space available, you can always grow strawberries in hanging baskets or bags. Choose varieties suitable for your container size and light conditions and go for it.
I grow strawberries in an old wheelbarrow, in hanging bags, and hanging baskets. This helps keep them from various critters that eat them when they are growing in the ground. It’s also easier to catch the shoots that form new plants. I root the runners in little pots until they are ready for the big kid wheelbarrow.
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.
It’s time to have the talk! Some plants are ‘self-fruiting’ or ‘self-pollinating’ and some are not. The ones that require pollination from another plant are referred to as ‘self-sterile’.
In general, most blueberries are self-sterile. This means they will only produce fruit if they have pollinated with another variety of blueberry plant nearby.
So, what does this mean for you? It takes two to tango. Get two different blueberry plants and they’ll be fine.
There’s plenty of delicious options: red, white, and black currants are all available in varieties that grow nicely in containers. Choose your favourite or grow one of each. They are self-fertile so you don’t have to worry about pollination.
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.
When choosing a fruit tree to grow in a container, always look for dwarf varieties and be sure to check the size at maturity.
Potted trees can get very heavy, making repotting and lifting difficult. I keep mine on little stands with wheels which makes things much easier.
Older cherry varieties tend to be self-sterile (and therefore need another variety of cherry tree nearby), whereas the newer ones tend to be self-fertile. Check the tags to make your choice.
If you want to grow apples, you’ll need the right climate. Apple trees need a cool season to trigger spring flowering and fruiting. If you don’t live a cold climate, they probably won’t do well.
Whether an apple variety is self-fertile or not, most provide better and bigger fruit if they are cross-pollinated with another apple tree.
A great all-in-one solution for this is to get a grafted dwarf apple tree. These are apple trees with several varieties growing on one plant.
Peach trees are self-fertile with very few exceptions, so you usually only need one to get fruit.
Again, check the plant tag information first. Make sure you’re getting a smaller variety that is well-suited to life in a container.
Pears do best with cross-pollination, so, if you want to grow one, get two!
Another consideration for any potted perennials is winter care. Be sure you’ve considered how you’ll store and care for the plant during the cold months. Some are hardy and can endure the cold with some basic protection (above zero, in a storage shed), others may need to come indoors until spring.
I’m in Canada and I grow Chicago hardy figs in containers. There’s plenty of options so be sure to pick something for your growing zone.
When growing in a cold climate, you need to also consider the actual containers the plants are in. Be sure to pick something that won’t crack or break in the cold and consider the weight in case you have to move them around. Aesthetically, I love ceramic pots. Practically, I use plastic pots.
11. Lemons, Limes, and Tangerines
And finally, if you have a heated greenhouse or solarium, or live in the right zone, lemons, limes, and tangerines are another option. Even if you’re not going to eat all those fruits, they do make beautiful houseplants.
Producing fruit demands a lot of a plant and the soil. Be sure to find an organic fertilizer (see Beginner’s Guide to Organic Fertilizers) and follow a feeding schedule to keep it happy and productive.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛