Container Size for Mini-Dwarf Apple Trees?

vancouverwa(8)December 19, 2013

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I bought a mini-dwarf Braeburn apple tree. It is about 3-4 feet tall and is expected to grow to 6-8 feet. It is grafted onto M27 root stock. The container from the nursery is about 12 inches diameter. I plan on keeping the tree on my deck in a planter. How big of a planter should I buy for this tree?

Thanks! I'm a gardening newbie, been into it for about a year and have been having a blast!

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The bigger the better. Pots dwarf plants. The smaller the pot, the more dwarfed. It will survive, but at least an 18 inch pot. Maybe for a year or two than 20 inch. You can start smaller, say 16 inch, but increase pot size every year. Stop at 20 inch. Every few years change soil, trim roots.
When you remove plant do it on a cloudy day. You should slice roots on 4 sides, blade should be about an inch in, maybe 2 deep. Slice an "x" on the bottom. This will stop roots from swirling. If they swirl too much the plant girdles itself.
Water good once planted. The plant will need as much sun as possible. But keep it shaded the day of transplant, and slowly increase exposure over 2 weeks.

You can put it in bigger pots than 20 inches, but it is hard to handle, go as big as you can handle. i use dollys to move mine! Some are in 23 inch pots. I would transplant it after harvest most years. As the stress could cause it to drop buds if done in the spring. You could do it while dormant too.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 1:40AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I agree with Drew -- I'd go with a pot in the 10-20 gallon range, which is generally 16" to 20" in diameter. I just planted some dwarf apples on Bud.9 rootstocks, and I opted for 20 gallon pots.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:31AM
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vancouverwa(8)

Thanks for the info. I plan to buy 2 more apple trees of different cultivars, so I will be doing the same procedure for all of them. The trees will all get full sun (when it's sunny here in the rainy Pacific Northwest). It sounds like a 20" pot will work for me. I'm trying to keep my gardening budget low, so can I move the tree from it's current 10"-12" pot to a new 20" pot and leave it in there for the rest of it's life? That way I only have to buy one pot.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 11:25AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Your trees will still need periodic root maintenance (root pruning and replacing the potting mix), but 20 gallon pots should work well for you over the long term.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 11:56AM
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OregonEd

Good thread on m27 apples :)

I plan to plant 1 or 2 M27s this winter myself, also in the PNW.

For those with mature m27 apples trees, what kind of yield are you getting on mature trees - how many apples? I know it will depend on the cultivar, etc.

Surprisingly, I have not been able to find an answer to what kind of harvest these mini tree produce.

Thank you- Ed

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 3:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

How large the container SHOULD be depends on your soil choice and how much tree you have. You can't very well take a tree from a 3-5 gallon pot and plop it into 20 gallons of water-retentive soil in a deck planter w/o expecting some limitations.

Coarse soils made of larger particles are unable to hold as much excess water as soils made of fine particles like compost or peat. The excess water held in soils made of fine particles limits root function and growth, which limits the plant. Ideally, the entire soil mass would be damp from top to bottom at container capacity. Container capacity is the measure of how much water is in the soil after the soil has been fully saturated and just stopped draining. If there are several inches of soggy soil at the bottom of the container, you'll have problems.

If you use a soil like the gritty mix that doesn't hold any perched water to speak of, you're unlimited in how large a container you can use - put a cutting in a 55 gal drum if you like. But if you use a soil that holds lots of excess water, you should move up in container size gradually to prevent the soil from being waterlogged for extended periods.

Also, if you're going to 'pot up' you should do it BEFORE the soil/root mass can be lifted from the soil intact. If you wait too long, your root structure will develop problems and become a permanently limiting factor, speaking from a health/growth perspective.

As noted above, periodic rood maintenance (pruning roots & correcting problem roots as well as changing the soil) should be included as a necessary part in your long term care plan.

Al

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 11:39AM
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joeschmoe80(6 (Ohio))

Has anyone tried growing fruit trees in Rootmaker or Smart pots? Or those Air pots from Europe?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 2:54PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

In my experience, fabric pots work very well for a variety of plants, fruit trees included. I trialed Smart Pots in 2012 and was very pleased with the results, but I switched to Root Pouches this year in order to cut costs (I use a lot of pots).

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 3:41PM
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