How to get started with potted fruit
Fruit trees are generally best planted during their dormant period – between late autumn and early spring – but dwarf fruit are often supplied container-grown, which can be planted at any time in the year. Planting in the summer simply means they’ll need plenty of water to get established. Choosing the right compost mix for pot-grown tree fruits is one of the major keys to success. Good drainage is always important as waterlogging will do more harm than occasional drought, and some plants need better drainage than others. All peaches, nectarines, apricots and citrus like very sharp drainage, but they also need plenty of water and goodness in the compost. I recommend making a mix of one-third sieved garden compost, one-third grit and one-third bark-based potting compost. John Innes No. 3 or a peat-free, multi-purpose compost will suffice for garden compost. For apples, plums, walnuts and mulberries, I reduce the grit to a quarter by volume and make up the difference with the potting compost. For the blueberries, substitute the normal bark-based potting part with pine-bark compost, and if you have leafmould, add that in, too. Leave at least an inch clear below the rim of the pot so you can soak the pot well and also mulch it every spring with fresh compost (although I use bracken or pine needles for the blueberries) having gently scraped away the top layer of old potting mix.
1 Choose a pot at least 30cm wide and cover its hole with a crock to aid drainage and stop it getting blocked with soil. 2 Fill with your chosen potting mix to about half way, just enough so that the tree is at the right depth when planted. 3 Firmly plant the tree in the centre of the pot and fill in around its rootball with more of your compost mix. 4 Ensure it is at the correct depth and then firm the compost down with your hands to get rid of any air holes. 5 Water your tree generously and continue to keep it well watered and fed. Mulch each spring with fresh compost.