Dwarf trees are grafted onto rootstocks that keep the plant small.
In the last couple of years dainty fruit trees have come to market that are suitable for growing in pots. They are normally sold as ‘patio’ fruit.
Swiss grower Lubera has developed several, including a miniature peach, apricot, cherry and pear, called the ‘Fruttoni’ range. Renowned breeder Will Sibley launched a patio medlar, quince and almond. They’re available from D.T. Brown and Pomona Fruits
If you’re looking at trees in a nursery and you want to know which ones are suitable for container growing, check the label for the rootstock number.
For apples, look for varieties on an M26 rootstock. For plums, the Torinel rootstock is best. Quince C is a dwarfing rootstock for pears and quinces, and Pixy is the smallest plum rootstock, apart from specialist patio fruit. For cherries, go for Colt or Gisela 5.
Choose as large a container as you can manage, 45-50cm is a good size. The type of container doesn’t matter, but bear in mind that while terracotta pots are heavy and stable, plastic containers are easier to move.
Ensure your pot has plenty of drainage holes and put in some crocks over them to prevent compost leaking out. Use a loam-based compost such as John Innes No 3, or multi-purpose compost mixed with Perlite or grit. Incorporate some slow-release fertiliser as well.
Position the tree so that the soil level it was previously planted at is maintained. As you backfill, firm the compost around the rootball. If it’s a bare-root tree, jiggle the roots up and down to make sure the compost gets into all the gaps.
Try one of these...
Pear ‘Doyenne du Comice’: Sweet flavour. Partially self-fertile. Grafted on Quince A
Apple ‘Little Pax’: Perfect for patios, reaches up to 2m. Reddish dessert apples ripen in October.
Patio cherry ‘Regina’: Self-fertile, with dark red fruits ready to harvest in mid-July. Height 2m