Considerations before growing Apples in containers

It is possible to grow Apples at home in containers. However, there are a couple of things to consider before planting them in containers.
First of all, choose your cultivar. Most nurseries will only carry trees that grow well in your area, but if you wish to purchase your tree online or from a catalog, you may not be getting one that will do well in your region. Also, all apple trees need a certain number of “cool hours.” In other words, they need a minimum of time where the temps are under a certain amount – basically, a set amount of time that the tree needs to stay dormant.

Pollination of apple trees is another consideration. Some apple trees need another apple tree nearby to cross-pollinate with. If you have a truly small space and no room for two or more trees, you need to find a self-fertile variety. Keep in mind, though, that even self-fertile trees will produce a lot more fruit if they’re cross-pollinated. If you have enough space for two trees, be sure you are planting two varieties that bloom around the same time so they can pollinate one another.

Also, just because an apple tree is labeled dwarf doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a suitable container grown apple tree. The rootstock that the tree is grafted onto will determine the eventual size. So what you are looking for is a label referring to the rootstock. This system is a more reliable method for determining if the tree will do well in a container. Look for a tree that is grafted onto P-22, M-27, M-9, or M-26 rootstock.

Next, consider container size. They are measured by volume or diameter, so it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what size you need. For your first year apple baby, look for a pot that is either 18-22 inches (46-56 cm.) across or one with a volume of 10-15 gallons (38-57 L.). Yes, you can grow apple trees in smaller containers, but if you are in doubt, bigger is better than smaller. Whatever the size, be sure it has drainage holes. Get a wheeled base to put the pot on so you can easily move the tree around.


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