How To Plant a Tree in a Container

Planting a tree into a container can be a bit challenging, but it can be successfully done.  Some important guidelines to follow when planting a tree are outlined in this article.

Step 1

SELECT YOUR TREE:

Your first and most important priority is to select the variety and size of tree that you wish to plant in a pot. Educate yourself about the tree you select to determine if it will thrive if planted in a container.

Select a tree that comes in a container (not a root ball) to transplant into your own pot. Many garden centers and plant nurseries sell trees without root balls these days.

Step 2

CHOOSE TREES THAT DO WELL IN CONTAINERS:

  • Evergreen Trees:  Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Arborvitae, Bonsai Juniper, Arizona Cyprus, Blue Spruce, Yew and others.
  • Flowering Trees: Magnolias, Flowering Cherry, Holly, Crape Myrtle, Dogwood, Juneberry, Yellowwood, Gingko Maidenhair and others.
  • Deciduous Trees: Red Japanese Maple, Birch, Locust, White Birch, Maple, Dwarf Korean Lilac, and others.
  • Fruit Trees:  Lemon, Lime, Orange, Mango, Papaya

Step 3

SELECT AN APPROPRIATE CONTAINER:

Your next step is to purchase a pot or container that will fit the tree you selected to plant.  If your plan is to leave your tree in its pot indefinitely, make sure the pot will be large enough to support the mature size of your tree.  If you're potting the tree to transplant to your garden or backyard at a later time, the container can be a bit smaller than required for a full-grown tree. Suitable containers for trees can be made of wood, ceramic, plastic, concrete, or clay.  All containers need to have holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. Set your potted tree on a wooden stand to allow for good air circulation and drainage.

Step 4

PLACE POTTERY SHARDS IN BOTTOM OF CONTAINER:

Place pieces of broken pottery over the holes in the bottom of your container. This ensures that all of your good potting soil doesn't wash out of the holes when the tree is watered.  Necessary soil nutrients for your tree will also be lost if drainage holes are too large.

Step 5

POTTING SOIL:

Pots or other planting containers should be filled with a reliable commercial potting soil that contains the nutrients your tree will need.  Potting soils are available at gardening centers and often in grocery or large discount stores. Just plain garden soil is not recommended as it usually contains diseases from other old plants that could infect your tree.

Step 6

PLANTING THE TREE:

Fill the container with about 1/4 of the potting soil.  Remove your new tree from the pot it came in and carefully set it into its new container.  Be careful to retain as much of the soil around the roots as possible.  Don't destroy any of the small feeder roots when doing this, as these little roots will ultimately become branches on your new tree.

Step 7

CENTER TREE IN CONTAINER:

Make sure you center your tree properly as you don't want it to look odd after it's planted.  Place about 1/2 of the remaining soil all around the tree roots, tamping gently to remove air pockets.  Then add the remainder of the soil and again tamp it gently all around.  Leave enough room at the top of the pot to place 3 to 4 inches of commercial compost all around the tree.  This top dressing will help hold moisture in and also add to the beauty of your newly planted tree.

Step 8

WATER AND FERTILIZER:

When finished adding the soil and compost, water the tree deeply the first few times.  After that, water on a regular basis as needed in your climate.  Fertilize your tree in the early spring with a slow release fertilizer to keep it nice and healthy.



 

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