How to grow a tree in a pot
Posted on August 24 2017
Savvy urban creativity means anyone can curate a beautiful garden! More and more green-fingered novices are learning how to bring green lusciousness to their urban space, be it inside a conservatory, patio or balcony…and the first step to a curating your own flourishing plot is growing your gorgeous greenery within pots and containers. This adds exciting and creative focal points to any space so read on to learn how to pot and care for your container-grown tree…
Choosing a tree
Many varieties of tree will thrive in pots and planters. Although, any young tree will happily flourish growing in a pot for at least five years, after that certain species of trees may want to establish their roots, too wide and deep for your average container and so will appreciate being planted in the ground. Good news is there are many trees that LOVE growing in pots and containers. Evergreen varieties are top of this list - such as Olive, Arbutus, Holly, Camellia and Myrtle trees to name a few. This is due to their ability to thrive with restricted root area. Deciduous trees tend to require deep roots as an anchor for their height.
Choosing a pot
Your container should be large enough to accommodate both the growing tree and the mass of its roots, (the general rule is that contained-trees should be planted in a pot that is twice the width and depth of the root ball) and ideally should be as wide as they are high in order to provide the best possible insulation to the roots.
Be careful not to overwhelm your tree with an extreme increase of pot size, too much space will mean your roots will be surrounded by masses of damp soil which is an unhealthy environment and this can lead to health issues.
When picking the material of your container - note that clay pots are heavier and more sturdy than plastic containers (and therefore better in windy conditions); terracotta pots provide stability due to their weightiness, but may not be frost resistant! Lightweight plastic pots are a good choice if your trees often require moving or if they are located on balconies. NB: Whatever pot you choose just ensure it has good drainage holes in the bottom!
How to pot your tree
Now you’ve found your perfect pot - let’s get planting! First remember to place stones, pebbles or broken pottery in the bottom of your pot to prevent the holes being clogged with soil and allow free drainage. Next it’s the soil, this should maintain sufficient aeration and drainage while retaining suitable amounts of moisture. A general purpose compost will provide all this and it can be supplemented with organic fertilisers too. Your tree isn’t able to spread its roots into the ground to reach water - so remember to water your tree regularly and fresh rain water is best.
Make sure your tree lives in comfort by refreshing its bedding annually. You can do this by removing the loose top-soil and replacing it with rich compost.
Be kind to your trees! Some of the best container-friendly evergreens aren't hardy enough to to remain outdoors all year. If your location is prone to cold and frosty winters you may have to move your potted tree to a more sheltered, protected area. Apply a balanced organic fertiliser once in spring and in summer, then hold off in autumn. If new growth is generated then, it will be susceptible to any harsh winter frosts.