How to Successfully Grow Container Trees


Megan WildDo you have a yen for a garden but don’t feel you have time for planting, weeding or fertilizing? Your job or family life could be time-consuming — so much so that spending even two hours in the yard on weekends sounds like too much. If you have a long or stressful commute in addition, looking forward to picking insects off your rose bushes may be too much.

But you don’t have to go garden-less. Growing container trees is a low-maintenance way to have the greenery, blooms and fragrance of a garden without being a weekend warrior on behalf of your begonias. You don’t need a lot of space. Container trees can be grown on a patio, placed on a small plot of land or even stuck in a corner of your living room.

The Planning Stage

Even a one- or two-tree garden needs a plan! Here are four questions to ask before heading down to the local garden center.

What’s Your Climate? You might be picturing lemon or orange trees on your patio. The first step is to check out your climate and determine if they’ll do well there. Perhaps a dwarf orange tree will thrive, but you need to know that before picking some up at the local plant store.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a handy map that details plant zones in the United States by temperature. Enter your zip code or click on your state.

How Much Time Do You Want to Spend Gardening? Container trees are lower maintenance than large gardens. That said, all living things need water, food and care. Do you want to simply buy a tree already in a container, set it on your patio and water it occasionally? Or do you want to do more gardening: pruning, repotting and maybe even getting fruit from your tree?

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Check your water supply. You may need a rain barrel or water purifyer system even for indoor plants. Chlorine added to many municipal water supplies to kill germs and make it safe to drink can damage many plants, and well water can also contain many contaminants you may be unaware of. Many people believe they don't have a green thumb simply because everything they grow dies from something in their home water supply th ey are unconscious of. (I'm not going to discuss the possible effects on people and pets here!)

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