Growing fresh fruits at your own home can be incredibly satisfying and can provide you with a powerful sense of sustainability. It will lower your carbon footprint, not only because you are planting more trees but also because you will be saving trips to the market.
Imagine eating that first piece of juicy, delicious fruit from your very own tree. Imagine the peace of mind that you will have knowing exactly what went into it and knowing that it hasn’t been moved across the country in a truck.
The advantage of growing dwarf fruit trees comes when the great outdoors gets cold. In many climates, your choices of fruit trees that you can grow are severely limited by your cold winters. If you choose to plant dwarf fruit trees and plant them into pots, you will be able to move them indoors at the first sign of cold weather. This will allow you to have a wide variety of fruit trees in both summer and winter.
Perhaps you have limited space or just an apartment. You still have the ability to have fruit trees, as long as you choose dwarf varieties. Be aware that different types of dwarf trees grow differently, so choose your plants wisely.
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What is a Dwarf Fruit Tree?
A dwarf tree fruit will have a similar appearance to the full-sized version. The dwarf trees often produce proportionally greater yields when compared to the standard varieties.
If you can grow other plants at your home, you should not have a problem growing dwarf fruit trees. These small trees produce an abundant supply of full-sized, organically grown fruit that you can pick right off the tree!
How are these dwarf fruit trees made?
Plant breeders have brought to life so many possibilities for gardeners by introducing naturally dwarfing fruit trees. Fruit tree breeders also found a way to cultivate dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks making it possible to graft any varietal.
There’s no genetic engineering involved in dwarf fruit trees. In reality, it’s an old, manual technique that entails carefully grafting or budding fruit tree varieties with ideal fruit characteristics onto a suitable rootstock. Grafting is a method of propagation that has been there for millennia.
The toughness, soil adaptation, tolerance to drought, resistance to diseases, and size of rootstocks are all factors in their selection. The roots can only allow the fruit tree to expand as much as they can; mixing a scion with a particular rootstock enables the grower to regulate the tree’s size.
How do Dwarf Fruit Trees Stay Small?
The fact that they are grafted to be dwarf will undoubtedly help them to remain smaller than the full-sized trees, but with proper pruning, you should be able to keep the dwarf trees to whatever size you wish.
How a tree will react to pruning will largely depend on the time of year it is pruned. The best time to prune a tree for growth and fruit is late winter before spring warms the tree. If you want to slow a tree’s growth and don’t mind missing the fruiting season, you can prune in spring after the growth occurs.
There are several benefits to keeping the trees small. Since the fruit is at a lower picking height, it is easier to collect, and smaller plants are easier to care for, prune and move if you need to.
Advantages of a Dwarf Fruit Tree
The pros of owning a dwarf fruit tree outweigh the cons. Here are some good reasons to have a dwarf fruit tree in your landscape.
- You Can Get Fresh Fruits Even in a Small Space!
- Growing a dwarf fruiting tree has its benefits: you can grow your fruit tree in smaller landscapes where a huge hulking tree will be too large, and you’ll still have good access to healthy, delicious fruits.
- You can even find fruit trees with multiple grafts that can produce a variety of fruits on a single tree. Talk about conserving space!
- Dwarf fruit trees also allow for easy upkeep, treatment, and harvesting from the ground. You won’t need any ladders or special equipment to pick the fruits.
Disadvantages of Dwarf Fruit Trees
- Their smaller root systems are more susceptible to drought, diseases, and pests, and they anchor the trees less effectively than larger root systems.
- It is a good idea to stake most dwarf trees until their roots get well established.
- Thinning heavy loads of fruit is necessary to avoid limb and stem distress, as well as alternate bearing (heavy crops one year and little or no crop the next).
Peach and Apricot Trees
Peach and apricot trees are becoming increasingly common container plants. They bear fruit easily, generally within 1-2 years of planting, and are very pleasing to the eye.
Growing a peach or apricot patio tree in a pot has the added advantage of allowing you to carry them indoors if a late frost is about to happen. This will safeguard the sensitive flowers allowing them to bear fruit eventually.
Dwarf Peach Tree
Dwarf peach trees mature to around 8-10 feet tall, but you can keep them to a more moderate height with careful pruning. A freshly planted dwarf peach tree can yield three to four bushels (1 bushel = 8 gallons) of fruit in a couple of years, depending on the variety and the climate.
Small peach trees are relatively easy to grow but only mildly cold-resistant. USDA plant hardiness zones five through nine are best for peach tree dwarf cultivars, though some are hardy enough to survive cooler winters in zone 4.
Here Are Some Great Dwarf Peach Trees to Plant:
- O’Henry are little peach trees with big, firm fruit—ready to harvest in the middle of the season. Peaches are a lovely yellow with red accents on them.
- El Dorado is a medium-sized peach with lush, yellow flesh and attractively red-blushed yellow skin. It is harvested in the early summer.
- Donut, a.k.a. Stark Saturn, produces medium, donut-shaped fruit (sunken in the center) early in the season. These unique freestones, white peaches have a gorgeous red blush on them.
Here is a Great Dwarf Apricot
Blenheim Apricot tree grows many apricots of moderate and large sizes. The fruits are really sweet and juicy.
Professional chefs worldwide consider Blenheim apricots to be the finest, best-flavored apricots perfect for fresh consumption. They have the perfect sweetness and acidity balance, resulting in a classic and flavorful apricot taste. Since it blooms later than other apricots, the Blenheim tree has a larger growth variety than other apricots.
USDA zones 4 to 9 are suitable for these apricot trees. This disease-resistant tree tolerates sunshine and shade and can be planted in the fall and spring.
Dwarf Orange Trees
Orange trees are available in a variety of sizes. Standard orange trees reach a height of around 20 feet, while dwarf orange trees in nurseries reach six to twelve feet high.
Dwarf citrus trees are similar to standard citrus trees except for their height. Dwarf orange trees are simply regular fruit trees that have been grafted onto smaller orange tree rootstock to stunt their growth.
Calamondin Orange Trees
For new gardeners, the calamondin orange is probably the best choice. These glossy trees grow fragrant flowers regularly, which mature into tiny, round fruits that make excellent, tangy marmalade. Just keep in mind that these taste too sour to eat on their own. You can also add these juicy oranges into cool beverages.
Self-fertile Dwarf Calamondin orange trees will grow six to ten feet tall in zones nine to eleven. Citrus lovers will enjoy growing them in patio containers, but their fruit is less tasty than the more popular oranges. Even so, they are stunning, and you can even grow them solely for their aesthetic appeal!
Dwarf Tangerine Trees
Tangerines are a better choice than actual oranges if you want juicy, orange-tasting fruit from a dwarf tree. Citrus reticulata grows in zones 9-11. This variety produces fruits that taste similar to oranges but are relatively easy to peel and consume.
Dwarf grapefruit trees grow to be around twelve feet tall at maturity, but they produce the same big fruit as their standard versions. You can grow a dwarf grapefruit tree in a wide container or the garden, making nutritious grapefruit for consuming and drinking.
One variety is the Dwarf Redblush Grapefruit. It is a dwarf grapefruit variety with fewer seeds and a deeper blush-red flesh and rind color. Fruit ripens from winter to spring on the tree, which lasts a long time. It’s an evergreen tree that can grow from eight to twelve feet high.
Dwarf Apple Trees
Dwarf apple trees produce full-size apples despite their diminutive size. These trees, which grow to be 8-10 feet tall, bear fruit faster than larger apple trees.
Fuji Apple Trees
Are you looking for an exotic tree that bears fruit speedily? The Dwarf Red Fuji Apple is a good one. Commercial farmers like these trees because they yield sweet, delicious apples quickly.
They’re also straightforward to maintain. Dwarf Red Fujis bloom in the mid-to late-spring and bear fruit in October, making for a convenient fall harvest. They also survive in a wide range of soil conditions, flourish in partial or full sun, and are smaller in size than other apple varieties, making them ideal for small spaces and harvesting fresh fruit.
Honeycrisp Apple Trees
Mini Dwarf HoneyCrisp Apple Trees can grow up to five feet tall, while Dwarf versions can reach eleven feet.
This one is an incredibly crisp, juicy red apple. When picked early, Honeycrisp has a delightful sweet-tart flavor, but it ultimately develops a full-bodied aromatic taste when allowed to ripen in the mid-late season.
The University of Minnesota developed Honeycrisp Apple. This tree is one of the most winter-resistant apple trees, surviving temperatures as low as -40°F.
Dwarf Pear Trees
You can plant dwarf pear trees with as little as 10 to 15 feet of space, whereas regular pear trees need at least 18 to 25 feet of space.
Perhaps better, they can be maintained to a height of 10 to 12 feet, a height that makes picking, pruning, and keeping it easy.
Dwarf Lime Trees
Standard lime trees can reach a height of 15 to 20 feet; therefore, bringing them indoors would be impossible. Dwarf lime trees, on the other hand, grow to be around six to ten feet tall. Still, they grow shorter in pots, and you can get them from legitimate nurseries.
Certainly, you can fit dwarf lime trees within your home and be astounded by the fantastic blooms, gorgeous canopy, pleasant citrus fragrance, and fresh lime fruits within reach, even if you have limited room.
A dwarf lime tree, unlike other varieties, has minimal needs and does not require significant care and attention.
Dwarf Cherry Trees
Cherry trees, which are grown for their beautiful spring flowers and fruit, are another rose family member that can survive in containers. Sweet and sour cherry trees are the two most common varieties.
Sweet cherries are the ones you’ll usually find in the supermarket. Snacking on sweet cherries is a great idea. On the other hand, Sour cherry trees are easier to grow, and they tolerate shade better than sweet cherry trees.
Get a Stella graft with a Colt rootstock if you want a cherry (semi-dwarf) tree (Prunus avium). The tree can grow up to ten feet tall when fully developed. This plant thrives in zones 5 through 9, and the fruit is sweet and dark red.
Since cherries are self-fertile, you won’t have to think about finding a pollinator. Because of this, they are much more suited to small spaces than fruit trees that need a specific pollinator.
Dwarf Pomegranate Trees
Unlike other pomegranate trees, which can grow up to 30 feet high, this smaller indoor variety can only grow to three feet tall! Pomegranate fruits are followed by fringed, sweet-smelling, trumpet-shaped flowers in vibrant orange-red that take 3-4 years to emerge. This plant prefers warmth and direct sunlight; bring it outside in late spring and summer but leave it indoors in the winter.
It’s best to put it in front of a clear window, and it grows well in a pot of well-drained sandy soil. This shrub is shaped like several narrow branches with long, shiny, green leaves before and after the flowers bloom, making it a pleasant complement to any interior.
Dwarf Lemon Trees
The dwarf Meyer lemon tree is an ideal dwarf tree if you want to grow fruit in a limited space. Its fruits do not look like store lemons (Citrus limon): their lemons look rounder than regular lemons and have a hint of orange blended in with the yellow. What’s important is they got the tangy taste that lemons are known for. Zones 9–10 are ideal for this tree.
The white flowers’ scent is an added benefit. It can grow to about four to six feet tall and yield lemons without needing a different pollinator in your yard.
Dwarf Fig Trees
Isn’t a spreading, fan-trained fig tree in a jar a glorious sight? It’s further enhanced by the hand-shaped leaves that release a distinct fig fragrance when brushed on warm days. Then there are the extremely juicy fruits, which swell all summer until they almost break open to expose their soft flesh.
One hardy variety of purple-fleshed fruits that are tasty is Brown Turkey, and Panache and Black Mission are two more good ones to try.
Cover the baby fruits during the winter by placing loose sleeves of bubble wrap around them, making sure to leave the ends open to maintain air circulation. This would guarantee a crop in a cold environment.
Since figs like to have their roots constrained, they’re perfect for growing in containers, and you can easily train them into fun shapes by attaching branches against a warmer surface.
Since they take up very little space, fan-trained trees are attractive, productive, and yield valuable fruits. While initial preparation is time-consuming, the benefits are well worth the effort.
To make a fig fan, follow the same steps as most other fruit fans, except considering the size of the fig leaves, you’ll need a much bigger structure for training since you’ll need to space the branches farther apart.
Stone fruits, which are not ideal for training as espaliers or other restricted types, are usually grown in fans. Fruits can be fan-trained in a variety of ways. The fruits that are commonly fan-trained are:
Apples, almonds, cherries, figs, gooseberries, peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, redcurrants, and plums.
Dwarf Banana Trees
While it’s widely known that the banana plant is called a banana tree, it is not a tree, but a big herb since its stem isn’t woody but succulent.
Want to blow your mind even more? Bananas are berries! (and strawberries aren’t).
Anyway, let’s go back to the topic. Gardeners short on space don’t need to be concerned: Small banana plants (Musa spp.) are suitable for small gardens.
The dwarf Cavendish banana tree has a self-fertilizing capacity, and you can grow this plant indoors.
It grows up to 8-10 feet in zones nine to ten. The sweet fruit can be anywhere from three to six inches long. Your landscape’s scenic value would be enhanced by the broad, tropical leaves of the banana plant.
Dwarf Plum Trees
You can find dwarf plum trees in abundance. There are also edible plum-bearing shrubs if you want to get something very short.
The natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is one specific tree that can grow in zones nine to eleven. It usually grows to around eight feet high.
It’s ideal to plant the beach plum (Prunus maritima) in colder climates since it’s hardy to zone three. Many inhabitants of the northeastern United States will know the beach plum as the fruit-bearing plant that grows in the dunes, mainly in the Atlantic Ocean.
Prunus domestica ‘Johnson‘ is an example of a dwarf plum tree cultivar. You can plant it in zones 5 through 9, and they grow up to ten feet tall. Johnson has sweet red flesh and red skin, and however, it needs pollination. If this is a problem for you, plant the self-fertile Damson plum tree instead.
Dwarf Nectarine Snow Queen
The most pleasant, sweet taste of any variety to date comes from this self-fertile white nectarine! The Nectarine Snow Queen grows up to 8-14 inches tall, and it requires full sun to thrive.
The red-tinged fruit has sweet white flesh produced by beautiful pink spring flowers. The dark green leaves turn a beautiful shade in the autumn. When the fruit is fully ripe, it turns a light yellow hue with a candy red blush.
This nectarine makes a great visual element in desserts and cocktails with its white color. The fruits are also usually added to soaps, scents, essential oils, and candles due to their floral notes and delightful fragrance.
It likes a mild, dry climate with little humidity; it grows exceptionally well on the west coast.
One of the most pleasant things about the Nectarine Snow Queen is its self-pollinating nature.
How to Choose a Dwarf Fruit Tree
How do you choose which dwarf fruit tree is perfect for your patio, inside your house, or on your landscape? Here are some tips.
Always Choose the Fruits You Love
- First of all, grow just the fruits you love eating. Fruit trees are an important investment in terms of money, time, and space. So why start growing fruit you don’t care for when you know it’s going to take up a special spot in your landscape?
- Think of which fruits you frequently buy at the grocery. What fruits do you crave the most? These questions should help you decide which dwarf fruit tree to add to your garden.
Choose Fruit Trees Appropriate for Your Space and Climate
- Secondly, choose fruit trees that will be well-suited to your area.
- There are many fruit tree varieties that you can choose from, but your specific environment is one of the most important considerations.
- If you know your area is going only to have a few hours of sunshine per day, you’re going to have fewer fruit options than if you get 6-8 hours.
- Most fruit trees need at least some sunlight to yield high-quality fruit, and the majority require full sun. However, certain fruits can thrive in partial shade, so don’t be discouraged!
- Find out what grows nicely in your area by contacting local nurseries, talking to neighbors, visiting community centers, or visiting local farms.
Choosing the Right Dwarfing Rootstock
It’s ideal to choose dwarfing rootstock depending on your soil and the tree size you like. Pixy for plums, M9 and M27 for apples, and Quince C for pears are the rootstocks that grow the smallest trees. They’re just fit for high-quality loam soils with plenty of nutrients.
Other Important Things to Keep in Mind
Check that the fruit tree you purchase meets all of the following criteria:
- Get it from a legitimate nursery, either in your neighborhood or online.
- Unless you have enough space for two or more trees, make sure that your tree is self-fertile.
- It’s a good idea to ask your supplier if you’ll need more than one tree to ensure proper pollination.
- We don’t recommend buying fruit trees from seed, and your tree should be a live one already grafted onto a dwarf rootstock.
How to Care for a Dwarf Fruit Tree
Indeed, caring for a dwarf fruit tree is much easier than caring for a full-sized tree. But, they still require basic upkeep to ensure they bear high-quality fruits!
Planting Dwarf Fruit Trees in Containers
Keeping your dwarf fruit trees in a simple pot or container is necessary. Your trees can flourish in your climate if you follow a few tips.
Also, choose a container that drains well. For a year-old tree, choose a pot measuring 8- to 10-inches in diameter and at least 24 inches in height. You should plant two- and three-year-old trees in a 12- to 14-inch pot. Note that when the roots of dwarf citrus trees are somewhat constricted, they bloom better.
Start with a simple potting mix (no wetting agents or fertilizers). At the bottom of the container, don’t add any small rocks or gravel.
Water the tree appropriately: thoroughly at first, and every five to seven days, add a fourth to a half-gallon of water. Provide plant food according to the instructions on the plant tag.
Locate a suitable spot for the tree. Make sure your tree receives at least eight hours of full sunlight every day. Temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for citrus growth.
Place the pot on a small dish filled with pebbles and apply water to the dish if your home becomes dry during winter. Allow your pot to adapt outside in a wind-free, sunny area during warm weather.
Planting Dwarf Fruit Trees in the Ground
Look for a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sun a day. Then, dig a hole measuring 12-18 inches in depth and width. Place the tree in that spot, but keep the grafted joint two inches above soil level (you’ll see this joint at the tree base).
Cover the tree with dirt and compost. Afterward, put some mulch around it to keep it moist. Ensure that you water it regularly.
We don’t recommend overwatering young potted trees. Keep close tabs on the tree when it’s in the container, and just water it when necessary. It’s possible that daily watering isn’t required, but don’t let the soil dry out entirely.
If the soil feels somewhat dry a few inches under the surface, you should water it.
Since the sun will be a huge determining factor in drying it out, please pay attention to where the pot is placed and how much sun it receives regularly. While they are in full leaf, mature trees in containers outdoors consume a lot of water and benefit from frequent watering, at least before the temperature becomes cooler.
Since dwarf trees occupy less space than standard trees, they need less maintenance. Even so, when the trees are dormant, you’ll need to prune water sprouts and suckers, weakened, diseased, and dead branches, limbs moving inward and around a third of the new growth.
A study shows that you should prune during the late winter or early spring to decrease the risk of infection.
Preparing the Trees for Winter
Frozen roots will die, and the tree loses its ability to receive nutrients and water.
Mulching the fruit tree with straw is one way to prepare it for the winter. This will protect the roots of your fruit tree, keeping them from freezing in the winter.
It’s best to use mulches that take a long time to decompose, such as straw or composted wood chips. Avoid using manure or compost on your tree because it can give it a load of energy which can cause dormancy to delay.
When you acquire a dwarf tree, what you’re getting is a generic dwarf rootstock with a fruit tree grafted on top. The dwarf rootstock will have a dwarf root system and may be unable to anchor properly.
Since their roots are fragile and can’t support themselves yet, most dwarf trees need stakes for at least two years, particularly in windy environments. Dwarf trees, such as cherries and apples, have particularly thin roots and need staking. The trees can die due to breaking or falling over if you don’t stake them.
Fertilizing / Feeding
Feeding dwarf fruit trees does not have to be a chore; you can use a foliar feed (applying fertilizers to the leaves) if you want, but you need to apply it every two weeks or so. The simplest feeding method is to add osmocote granules once a year in the spring. This form of fertilizer is slow-release, so you’ll get a steady stream of nutrients all season long.
Fruit trees thrive in the sun, particularly the smaller growing ones and patio varieties. The more sun they have, the better the fruit quality will be: sweeter and more colorful upon ripening.
Some types, such as the cooking apple varieties, Morello cherry, damson, and quince, can survive in a more shaded place.
Finally, place them somewhere that isn’t too windy since nothing is more annoying and frustrating than having to reposition trees in pots that have fallen over constantly.