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From planting to harvest, here's how to keep a dwarf fruit tree in a pot.

A potted fruit tree needs much more attention than the same tree would if planted in the ground. It also won't produce nearly as much fruit.

But as well-tended fruit tree in a pot has other rewards. It gives you the charm of a large-scale bonsai. In spring, most kinds carry clouds of flowers. Sometime between late spring and fall, they produce appetite-arousing little fruits. And in winter, bare branches can look sculptural.

the steps pictured here outline the basic training needed. Probably easiest to manage in pots are dwarf apples or a small pear like the 'Shinseiki' shown above right and in color on page 140. Genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines are also naturally compact.

To bear fruit, each kind of fruit tree requires a little different pruning and pest control; for details, read Sunset's Prunning Handbook or Fruits, Nuts & Berries. Limbs of a container tree should be pruned according to the same principles that apply to full-size tree, but since a container tree has much less growth, often you just pinch off a bud or short shoot instead of making larger cuts.

Every one to five years, you'll also neet to trim back the roots. To make root pruning easier. Plant in a wooden container with removable sides, or in a disposable plastic or pulp pot you can slip inside a decorative container.

The smaller the pot, the more often you'll have to water. In a hot place, even large containers like the 18-inch-deep Oriental crock shown above may need water once or twice a day. You can reduce this to every two or three days by mulching the soil with compost or similar material.

Container trees also need more frequent fertilizing. Use timed-release pellets, or applying regular fertilizer about twice as often as the label recommends but a half-strength. Every few months, leach out excess salts soaking thoroughly.

To protect roots from freezing in cold-winter climates, move container trees into a garage or other sheltered spot.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jan 1, 1986
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