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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Containers for Fruit Trees Need to Be Appropriately Sized

Q. I have two dwarf trees, a nectarine and a peach. I would like to move them from in-ground into containers. What would you recommend the minimum size container to use?  The nectarine is about 4' tall and 5' wide. The peach is about 3' tall and 3' wide.
Fruit tree to be moved from the ground into a container

A. Use a container about the size of a half wine barrel for these trees. Do it any time until new growth starts, approximately the first week of February in our climate.
Use a sharp shovel. People don't normally sharpen shovels but it's a good practice to get into. You can sharpen it with a file or a bench grinder.
Cut through the roots in one push rather than whacking on them with a dull shovel. Cut entirely around the outside of the tree about 6 to 10 inches smaller than the inside diameter of the container.
After making the cuts in the soil all around the outside, use a pick or mattock to cut a narrow trench just to the outside of these cuts to a depth of about 12 to 15 inches. Use your shovel for leverage and gently lift the root ball from several different directions to loosen it.
24 inch nursery box used as a container for dwarf fruit tree. A box like this may last several years before it needs to be replaced and the tree repotted
Once the root ball begins to move, use your loppers to cut any roots that might be holding the plant in the soil. At this point, you should be able to lift the tree out of the hole with most of the soil remaining around the roots.
Fill the bottom of the container with soil amended 50/50 with compost so that the root ball rests 3 to 4 inches below the "lip" of the container. Place more amended soil around the root ball inside the container and water it in.
Prune the top of the plant by removing about 1/4 to 1/3 of the canopy to compensate for the loss of roots. The compost should give you enough fertilizer for the first growing season.

1 comment:

  1. Since I assume the questioner planted the trees too close to the home and now realizes it, an alternative is to consider espaliering one of the trees. You can do both but they are pretty close together.