Trees aren’t just for parks and gardens; they can be grown in containers too. Adding a potted tree to your patio, living room or entrance hall is a lovely way to add a touch of greenery to your décor. You’ll discover that with a little care and maintenance, it’s easy to grow a tree in a container.
To start, you’ll need to pick the right tree. Not all trees will cope well with the restrictions placed on their roots by a container. We’ve identified five trees that you can grow indoors in a previous blog, so read that first. Once you’ve selected a suitable tree, follow these tree maintenance tips:
Improve drainage with stones
Before you plant your tree, add some large stones to the bottom of the container. This will assist with drainage and ensure that your container doesn’t get water-logged. Overwatering can do as much damage to trees as underwatering as it dilutes the nutrients in the soil.
Get the right soil
The health of a tree largely depends on the quality of the soil it’s planted in. Use a soil-based potting mix for your container tree as it includes materials that naturally retain water and nutrients. Your local nursery may even stock water-retaining granules which you can add to your potting mix to improve its water-retaining properties.
Add some organic mulch
Container trees will dry out faster, as all plants in pots tend to do. Adding a layer of organic mulch will further aid in reducing moisture loss. You won’t have to water as often (or risk overwatering your tree), which in turns cuts down on the maintenance required.
Be careful not to lay the mulch right up to the base of the trunk as it can suffocate the tree and creates an ideal environment for pathogens to thrive. Rather create a ‘doughnut ring’ of mulch around your tree to get all the benefits that mulch offers.
Pick the right spot
As container trees are prone to drying out, they best suited to sheltered areas, away from extreme temperatures and wind.
Refresh the soil once a year
It’s best to do this in spring when your tree will need the extra nutrition to cope with its growth spurt. Simply scrap off the top layer of soil and add a little slow-release fertiliser.
Prune your container tree every year
Winter is the best time to prune as this is when trees enter their dormant phase. Pruning during winter will ensure that your trees don’t respond to the sudden loss of their food-producing green leaves by putting out new shoots.
Take care to use the right tools and techniques if you plan on pruning the tree yourself. Otherwise, get a tree care professional to do it for you – it is money well spent if you want your container tree to be strong and healthy.
Repot your tree after every two or three years
Although a container tree won’t grow as fast, there will come a time when it has outgrown its pot. If you see roots coming through the drainage holes, start looking for a new pot that is at least 5cm larger. Add fresh potting soil and re-plant your tree.
Or, you could prune the tree’s roots and plant it back in the same pot. As with regular pruning, it’s best to prune the roots in winter.
With smaller gardens and balconies, many people are using containers to grow a variety of plants. There’s really no reason not to grow trees in containers, too. With our tips your container trees will thrive.