Growing An Indoor Orchard With Container Fruit Trees

By Laura Miller | June 25, 2021
Image by Yuliya Giss
by Laura Miller
June 25, 2021

I love fruit. So naturally, I’ve always wanted to grow my own. Unfortunately, living in northeast Ohio limits the selection to cold-hardy varieties. And honestly, I haven’t had much success. I’ve tried apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and nectarines, only to end up with bug-laden fruit. Blasting trees with chemicals to control pests is not my thing.

I did have some success with blueberries. For a few years, my bushes produced small amounts of delicious fruit, but they never grew very big due to the deer “pruning” the branches each winter. So what’s a fruit-loving girl to do? Well, if you can’t go through an obstacle, you have to go around it.

Containers to Avoid Pests

For me, this meant switching to container fruit trees. By growing fruit trees inside, I not only have the option to grow tropical varieties of fruit which are not winter-hardy in my area, but I also have much more control over the environment. Pests, whether they be insects or deer, can easily be kept separate from my fruit trees in containers. 

What are the Best Fruit Trees for Containers

For me, I’ve found figs are one of the best fruit trees for containers. This easy-to-grow fruit bears on deciduous trees which only require minimal protection from winter temps. An attached, but unheated porch or garage that remains above freezing is sufficient. I simply move my potted figs outdoors in the spring once the danger of frost has passed and let these prolific bearers grow outside in a sunny spot all season long.

I’ve found containerized fig trees require little care beyond daily watering during dry weather. I use a quality potting soil mix and cut this with my homemade compost. Needless to say, a planter with good drainage is recommended to prevent soggy soil and root rot issues. 

Beyond that, I’ve discovered yearly pruning encourages these fast-growing trees to sprout more fruit-bearing branches. Plus, it keeps these container fruit trees short enough to fit back inside for winter storage. I had so much success with my container figs that I’ve decided to “branch out” and try growing other types of fruit trees in containers.   

Additional Container Fruit Trees 

A few years back, I added another Mediterranean favorite to my collection of fruit trees in containers. Although, many don’t consider olives to be a fruit, they are a type of stone fruit much the same as peaches, cherries and plums. 

Olive trees are little harder when it comes to producing fruit. They need to be about five years old before they jump into reproductive mode and pollination can be tricky. Some olive trees are self-fertile, other are not. And when they do begin to bear, olive trees typically produce fruit every other year.

The latest additions to my collection include key lime and kumquat trees. It’s a bit early to see how these will fare for me. Just like starting an outdoor orchard, it takes patience and time when growing fruit trees inside during the winter. But I’m looking forward to the day when I can enjoy different types of container-grown fruit that I didn’t have to share with the deer and the bugs!

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