Have you ever considered growing a tree in a pot? With just a little effort, it can be done, and it is not as hard as you might think. Keeping a tree in a pot will limit the top growth, so don't expect your potted tree to reach its full forty foot potential. It may only reach half of that, or less, depending on the size of the pot. Now keep in mind that a potted tree will be much more vulnerable to cold temperatures. Give the root ball 6-8 inches of soil on all sides as insulation from the cold. Add that to the dimensions of the root ball to determine what size container you need. If you are going to house your potted tree on a high terrace, you will need to subtract a zone or two from the hardiness zone. Also, be sure that the terrace can support the weight of the tree.
First, make sure that your container has drainage. This is not an option. Next, cover the bottom of the pot with landscape fabric, and add a layer of drainage material to the bottom of the pot. Use something lightweight, such as packing peanuts. This will keep the roots from sitting in water. On top of that, lay another piece or two of landscape fabric to keep the soil from washing to the bottom. It also keeps lightweight drainage material in place. Pour the soil in next, making sure to raise the root ball to the appropriate level within the container. A common mistake when planting trees is planting too deep. Correct depth is obtained when the root flare is at the surface of the soil. The root flare is where the first main roots attach to the trunk. You may need to remove excess soil from across the top of the entire root ball to expose the root flare. This is very important. Finish packing in the soil around the tree, watering until it runs out of the bottom of the container. Add a mulch or ground cover, and you are done. Enjoy!
You will need to fertilize about once a year, in most cases. One important matter to consider: watering. Pots dry out much quicker than the ground. You will most likely need to water daily. Consider using an irrigation system, and mulch. Ground covers look great under potted trees and provide insulation all in one step.
Popular choices for potted trees include Japanese Maple, Juneberry, Cypress, Crape Myrtle, and Purple Leaf Plum, just to name a few.
Share your tree potting advise with your fellow Yardiacs by posting a comment on the blog! We are all ears!