Potted Fruit Trees for Small Yards

by / 22 Comments / 5494 View / September 22, 2009

I’m a huge fan of gardening and I’m a huge fan of eating, that’s why I created an edible landscape at home.

You can’t walk two feet in my yard without being able to snag some kind of fruit, herb or vegetable!


I have a virtual potted backyard orchard of fruit trees and yet my suburban lot is average size, so how do I do it?


I plant dwarf fruit tree varieties in pots and place them all over the yard including many varieties of citrus including my favorite; dwarf Meyer lemon trees!


Pineapple Guava




Feijoa sellowiana, or “pineapple guava” is happy growing in an oversized (24-inch) container.


Feijoa is commonly planted as a medium size bush (10-15 feet tall and wide), but they are also available as “standards” or tree -style as well.

I use a potting soil that is appropriate for vegetable and fruit plants.

Nothing fancy.

The flavor of the feijoa can be described as “exotic, pineapple-like”  fragrant, juicy and similar to passion fruit. 

(Watch my video, “Growing Passion Fruit From Seed”) if you are interested!



A “bi-sexual”plant, the feijoa is self pollinating and does well as a drought resistant plant when planted in the ground, but as a potted plant, the feijoa requires regular watering during the flowering and fruiting period.

This translates to watering 2 times per week, occasionally a third time if it is very hot.

I have a “Pineapple Gem” variety grown by Monrovia that does very well in my arid, hot  Southern California climate.


There is an “Edenvale” series of feijoa that does slightly better in cooler weather  areas.


Citrus Trees


Oro Blanco” grapefruit anyone?


Yellow flesh ripens to a blushing pink, guarding super-sweet yellow pulp.

Almost any citrus tree variety does well in a container.

Just keep in mind that the sweeter the fruit, the hotter temperature it will require.


Look for dwarf varieties that have been grafted onto “Flying Dragon” rootsock to assure the tree stays small for your container.

A 20″ inch or 24″inch container will give your 15 gallon tree plenty of space to grow for at least 5 to 8 years.


Drip irrigation is essential if you don’t want to be a slave to watering your tree.

You want your soil to be moist but never saturated! Water when the top of the soil is slightly dry to the touch.

If you use terra cotta pots, you can expect your soil to dry especially fast.


Temperatures under 25 degrees can be detrimental to your citrus tree so if you experience a cold snap, move your citrus indoors to a bright, cool spot.

Follow a fertilizing regimen during the growing season but curtail feeding when it starts to get cold.

You don’t want to subject fragile, new growth to freezing temperatures.

Read more about citrus tree varieties and growers of dwarf citrus.


Dwarf Nectarines, Peaches, Plums and Apricots



Stone fruit trees” like apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches can be grown in containers but have special  chill requirements in order to set fruit.

On the other hand, they also need some heat to sweeten and ripen.

Oh yes, nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots come in dwarf varieties too!


Select a container between 20″ and 24″ inches.

Plant in well draining soil and for convenience, use casters underneath the pot so you can move it around as needed to catch the sunlight.

Read more about stone fruit trees and specialty growers.



fig tree


In Southern California, I’ve got lots of choices for fig tree varieties that do well in containers…and in my mouth!

I made a “to die for” desert the other night with some “Brown Turkey” figs I have growing in my backyard.

I sliced the figs in half,  tucked  a pinch of blue cheese inside the pulp and  placed one walnut halve on top of it.

Microwave for 15 seconds and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Finger and plate licking good!


I felt like I was enjoying desert in some fancy restaurant.

I actually prefer to grow all my fig trees in pots because their growth, (which can be rampant) is kept in check.


Select a pot that is slightly wider and deeper than the rootball and you are good for at least 3 to 4 years.

Place in a sunny location and pray the squirrels don’t find  your fig tree.

My squirrels wait for the fruit to ripen before “harvesting” them so I have to race them to the tree…dang squirrels!


Watch my video,  “Grow Fig Trees in a Pot for Maximum Figs” on Youtube.



Time for me to rest.

I’ve planted more fruit trees than I can remember!

But what are you sitting around for?

You have your instructions….go plant a potted backyard orchard filled with dwarf fruit trees in your small yard!


Pick a nice looking planter too while  you’re at it and send me a photo.

I invite you to upload photos of your container fruit trees on the Community section of my Facebook page, “EdenMakers by Shirley Bovshow!”

Just select the photo icon in the comments section and share your photo or video with your fellow “EdenMakers!”


Subscribe to Eden Makers Blog for sustainable garden design ideas, edible garden information, a little weight loss info and everything else under the sun!

22 Comment

  1. Any tree whether it is “dwarf” variety or not can be pruned to stay small. Dwarf varieties may acclimate better to a pot, but I can’t prove that.

    I have dwarf meyer lemon as well as dwarf kumquats in pots that are extremely prolific!
    I feed during the growing season with organic “citrus fertilizer” (different brands).

    Do not plant your citrus tree in straight potting soil, it will drain too quickly and is not ideal for your citrus.

    I plant using a third of compost, garden soil and potting soil- equal parts.


  2. I really enjoyed this article! So I have a Eureka lemon tree and a beears lime tree. I don’t think they are dwarf but they are kept Small-ish and topiary style and planted in something like 15 to 20 gallon cement pots. They look beautiful and I keep them on the small side but the lemon tree has never grown lemons. When they grow they stay green for about a year! The lime tree grows some fruit but not a lot. I’ve been thinking of replacing them with dwarf trees because I’ve heard they do better in pots. They look very scraggly at the nursery. Can I find ones that have a straight trunk that I can make into a gorgeous little topiary? Do you think that the dwarf variety will grow more fruit for me? Thanks for any advice you can give! Also what soil and fertilizer would be best?

  3. Correction – 1/2 gallon

  4. Just curious, I purchased a Oroblanco on Flying Dragon. I planted in a 20" pot in Miracalgrow citris potting soil. It is just starting to bloom now (in LA). Lot's of blooms but the leaves don't look super healthy. I'm watering about 1/2 per 6 or so days. Should I be watering it more? Less? any help would be great.

  5. Dear Maria Mansfield, from what I have read elsewhere throughout the web, feijo do not like too much sun, preferring the cool !  So perhaps if you moved it in it's pot to a more sheltered spot it may decide it likes it more !  According to 'Feijoa Feijoa' –  Chilling hours – it’s a reality that feijoa plants require 50-100 hours of cold or chill to set the fruit. Their natural climate is temperate highlands, so they simply do not fruit in warmer or really cold climates.
    Heat – particularly in Australia, days of excessive heat in the 40s are highly damaging to fruit crops

    I hope that helps your tree !!! 

  6. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for sharing. What varieties do you grow?

  7. It is possible to grow a fig tree in the ground and keep it small.Figs are propagated via cuttings and will come up true to type from the roots. So plant a tree and each year allow one new stem to come up from the roots,in the 3rd year after the fig fruits, cut the oldest trunk to the ground.Thus your fig will never be larger than a 3 year old tree.It helps to buy a less vigorous variety . 

  8. Hi Maria,

    Thanks for writing. Has the pineapple guava outgrown it’s pot? I would check the soil first to make sure there is enough to cover roots.

    It’s a good idea to add new potting soil that has plenty of compost in it so it supplies nutrients to your plant.

    When was the last time you fed your plant with a fertilizer with plenty of potassium to encourage blooming?

  9. Hi,

    My pineapple guava plant has never flowered.  I've had it for about ten years and it's planted in a large container that sits on the patio in full sun.  It goes in the garage during the winter.  I live in southwest WA.  Where did I go wrong?

  10. […] Eden Makers and Michael Penney Style. Image Credit: Martha Stewart and Todd Porter and Diane Cu […]

  11. This is great advice that we’ll share with our growing dome greenhouse gardeners who very often ask about growing fruit trees in the domes. Lovely job with the combination of information, photos and video.

  12. I always wondered if there was a dwarf variety. Maybe ill try to graft one onto a dwarf rootstalk. I think also a cheerry tree could be maintained small in a pot.

    Thank you

  13. Hi Gabe,
    I don’t have cherry trees in my garden but my neighbor does and it’s starting to bloom now. I’m not sure if there are dwarf cherry trees available. Anyone know?

  14. Do you have dwarf cherry trees in your garden? Is there such a variety?

  15. we have a grapefruit plant on our home backyard and the fresh fruits taste so much better;*:

  16. we always use grapefruit on our dessert and this is a fruit that is full of antioxidants too.,:’

  17. […] exciting to be able to present some space efficient options for those of you who are short on yard space but big on dreams of growing your own […]

  18. Seeing your blog reminds me of why I got into supplying folks with fruit trees in the first place. There is nothing more satisfying and rewarding than growing your own fruit in your backyard. Your yard is beautiful, by the way. Thanks for posting!


  19. I like your site very much. I also, agree with you about the dwarf fruit trees. They also, give off a wonderful smell when they are in bloom. Keep up the great web info. Thanks.

  20. What beautiful photos! It’s beautiful to see such a person involved in nature as you are. What an inspiration!

  21. That grapefruit tree looks awesome! Would it do well indoors in a well lit area? My cubicle at work is right next to a big window, and it would make my coworkers so jealous if I could just pluck a grapefruit for lunch every now and then.

    Is there a place where I can order one online? We don’t have any for sale on DoLeaf and I’d love to get one.

  22. I second the notion of filling your yard with fruit trees. Dwarfs, in or out of the ground, take up very little space and it’s such a treat to pick peaches and even nuts in your own backyard. Apples are the tough one for me. They require a lot of spraying, which I don’t do, or the fruit is very disappointing.

    Have you ever tried the columnar type trees in pots? I’d be curious to know if they produce well.

    Shirley, I hope you’re already in Raleigh and on a 2nd round of margaritas by now. Wish I could have joined you all.

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