Patio Fruit Trees: How to Choose the Right One for You

It’s possible to grow fruits such as lemons, cherries, plums, apples, pears, and even oranges. And fortunately, they only require just a little more care than their full-size cousins.

Assess your growing situation

Your trees will do best if you can put them south-facing as they will be able to get the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the year.

Do you have room for more than one tree? If not, be sure to choose a self-pollinating variety to ensure a good yield of tasty fruit.

Your container

All containers are not equal.

Avoid plastic containers as they can be easily tipped over. Look for terra cotta or ceramic containers which are about 17 to 20 inches in diameter that provide good drainage.

In addition, to ensure adequate drainage, place rocks in the bottom of the container before topping off with good, soil-based compost.

Improving your harvest

Add a high potassium fertilizer each spring and summer and keep your tree neatly trimmed, cutting off dead, diseased, or broken branches and shaping it nicely.

Take care, however, to only do this during times when the tree is dormant (in the winter), and be careful not to cut back too much; just enough to keep a nice shape.

Protecting your trees

If necessary, bring your tree inside to protect the blooms from a late frost and/or from harsh winters.

Check your plants daily and water as needed because potted plants go through water quickly, especially in the growing season and in the heat of the summer.


Over time your plant may have smaller and/or fewer fruits. This could be as few as two years or as many as seven years after originally planting your trees.

This doesn’t mean your tree is finished…it just needs to be rejuvenated.

When the tree has no buds, leaves, fruit or flowers (a/k/a its dormant season) do the following:

  • ⬥ Remove from the pot
  • ⬥ Tease out the roots and thin them out a bit
  • ⬥ Add fresh compost soil and put the tree back in its container

If all goes well your plant will be refreshed and start yielding bigger and more fruit again.

Varieties of patio fruit trees

Apple varieties available in dwarf form include:

  • ⬥ Gala
  • ⬥ Jonagold
  • ⬥ Cox
  • ⬥ Pink Lady

Peach and apricot (can grow fruit in as few as one to two years of planting) 

  • ⬥ Contender peach
  • ⬥ Pix Zee peach
  • ⬥ Pixie-Cot apricot
  • ⬥ Bonfire peach

Cherry (sour and sweet varieties)

  • ⬥ Nanking Dwarf Cherry
  • ⬥ Lapins
  • ⬥ Stella
  • Northstar
  • ⬥ Sunburst


  • ⬥ Meyer lemon trees  (easy to grow)

Pomegranate (only grows 3 feet tall)

  • ⬥ Dwarf Pomegranate (Punica granatum ‘Nana’)

Fig (easy to care frow, yields fruit quickly)

  • ⬥ Brown Turkey
  • ⬥ Panachee
  • ⬥ Black Mission
  • ⬥ Chicago Hardy
  • ⬥ Petite Negra (produces a lot of fruit starting at 12 inches!)

Orange tree

  • ⬥ Calamondin Orange (best for beginners)
  • ⬥ Trovita

Choosing the right dwarf fruit tree 

Make sure the tree you’re considering buying ticks off the following requirements.

  • ⬥ You’re buying from a nursery with a good reputation
  • ⬥ The tree has been grafted onto dwarf rootstock
  • ⬥ It’s self-fertile (or you have room for two or more trees)

Growing tips

Make sure your fruit trees get enough sunlight. Also, ensure the space you have will meet the light requirements of the patio fruit tree you plan to buy.

Water often, especially during warmer weather. 

Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings, but when you do water, water it deeply.

Choose a fertilizer that is specially designed for your particular type of patio fruit tree and fertilize when recommended.

Have a plan for bad weather

The fortunate thing about a potted fruit tree is that it’s moveable. Keep a keen eye on the weather and move your plant inside or in a sheltered place when bad weather is imminent.

Choose the right tree for your climate

Finally, choose the tree that’s right for where you live. Not all trees prefer being inside in the winter. Fruit trees such as apples, cherries or plums prefer a cooler climate so can be left out, depending on how cold your climate gets.

When in doubt, check with your local nursery to choose the right patio fruit tree for where you live.

For other landscaping and gardening options, check these out.

How to Set Up an Irrigation System for Container Gardening

Herb Gardening For a Healthy You

Home Gardening for a Healthy Summer

How to Build a Planter Box from Cedar