How To Grow Container Trees

potted-tree
Image by Quinn Dombrowski

By Heather Rhoades

For those of us with little yards, or even no yards at all, having a tree in the ground is simply not an option. But that does not mean that we cannot have trees. Planting a tree in a container is a nice way to add some height and shade to your container garden. Let’s take a look at how to grow container trees.

Choosing Trees for Containers

Not all trees are suited to containers, so think carefully when choosing both the container and the tree. When planting a tree in a container, you should consider the conditions that you have in your space. Is it sunny or shady? Is it windy? How easy will it be to provide the tree with water?

Many fruit trees are available in dwarf form. These trees need plenty of sun, but not beating sun, and plenty of water. Palm trees also make good container grown trees. Many varieties can take beating sun and little water. Some more traditional looking trees that make good trees for containers include:

Most container grown trees will only grow to be between 4′ – 10′ tall. You can grow larger trees in containers, but if they grow above 10 feet, you will need to provide a very large container to accommodate the root system. Some larger trees for containers are:

  • American hornbeam
  • Centurion crabapple
  • Galaxy magnolia
  • Golden raintree
  • Honey locust
  • Indian Magic crabapple
  • Japanese crabapple
  • Kwanzan cherry
  • River birch
  • Saucer magnolia
  • Sourwood
  • Yoshino cherry

Tips on How to Grow Container Trees

Consider container and trees’ size

The bigger the tree is, the bigger your container will need to be. Also, take into account the amount of wind in your area when considering container size. Container grown trees are prone to being blown over because they are not well weighted on the bottom. Make sure that the container is large (and therefore heavy enough) to keep the tree upright in the normal wind conditions for your space.

Provide drainage

Another thing to consider when looking at how to grow container trees is that the tree will need excellent drainage, which can be difficult to accomplish in a large container. Larger containers will be more likely to have soil or just the weight of the soil block drainage holes. Fill a few inches of the bottom of the container with stones to help provide drainage that will not get blocked.

Constant feedings & watering for trees for containers

When you are planting a tree in a container you are making that tree totally reliant on you for nutrients and water. Make sure that you regularly feed your tree once a month with a water-based fertilizer or once every three months with a slow release. In hot weather, you will most likely need to water once, maybe twice a day. Even drought tolerant trees will need to be watered frequently.

Enjoying your container grown trees

Keeping container grown trees can be a lot of work, but planting a tree in a container is a rewarding act that will bring you beauty and shade to a previously treeless area.

This article was last updated on

Related Articles
Did you find this helpful?
Share it with your friends!
Additional Help & Information

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask one of our friendly gardening experts.

Do you know anything about gardening? Help answer someone's gardening question.

Read more articles about Container Gardens.

Search for more information

Use the search box below to find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: