How Are Trees Grown In Containers

Growing trees no longer requires acres on acres of open land. In fact, you can grow trees in compact containers on your porch, patio, or balcony!

Containerized trees are primarily used to frame entryways or to provide additional decorative or focal elements to a property.

There are a wide variety of containers that one can choose to grow/keep a tree in, and they range in size, material, shape, and color. This will require you to consider what you want your container to look like in the location you’ve planned on. You will also have to consider the size the tree will eventually grow to so the container can accommodate that size and the roots.

One should also keep in mind that the container should be equally wide as it is tall to ensure proper insulation of the roots.

While clay pots are more stable and durable than plastic ones, they are heavier. So, if you are planning on having your tree on a balcony or rooftop, a lighter, more portable plastic pot is for you.

When it comes to soil selection, drainage is paramount. First, ensure that your container has enough drainage through holes on the bottom. Next, you want to select soil – not directly from your garden or yard –  or soil-based  compost from a nursery or garden supply store.

Containerized trees are more prone to drying out, and therefore, require regular and thorough watering. Additionally, a fertilizer is necessary to facilitate proper growth either through an application of slow-release fertilizer annually, or by using a liquid feed on regular intervals.

Some great choices for trees that do well in containers are:

  • Holly
  • Japanese Maple
  • Star Magnolia
  • River Birch
  • Crepe Myrtle

How To Plant A Containerized Tree

So you’ve just purchased your containerized tree and are ready for planting. Here are the necessary steps to planting a containerized tree in your yard:

  1. Dig a whole that measures at least 3-4 times wider than the container your tree came in. The sides of the whole should slop in – allowing  proper root growth.
  2. Carefully remove the tree by tapping around the outside of the container to loosen the edges. Then, gently remove the tree, trying your best to keep the soil around the roots intact.
  3. Sometimes the roots of a containerized tree become root-bound (when the roots have spiraled around the root ball) and need to be released. Simply, using a sharp knife, cut an X across the bottom of the root ball, as well as four slices vertically up the sides.
  4. While you want a wide hole, it shouldn’t be too deep. The base of the tree should land just above the surface. If the hole is too deep, pack some soil just below the root ball.
  5. Give the tree a thorough watering by creating a water-holding basin that goes around the hole. Once the water has soaked in, layer 2-3 inches of protective mulch around the base of the tree stretching out at least 3 feet.
  6. For the first year of a tree’s life, it is imperative to keep the soil around the tree moist. During dry weather, make sure to give the tree a good watering every 7 days or so, just don’t let the mulch get soggy.
  7. Remove any tags or labels from the tree as soon as possible. They may affect the growth of the plant later on. Also, prune any dead or broken branches to maintain the health of the tree.