Containerized trees and shrubs can add points of interest to patios, decks, small yards and balconies. Just give some thought to selecting the tree, pot and potting soil. Then consider how the tree will be maintained. If container plants are cared for, they can provide enjoyment for decades.
Choose a small maturing tree or a shrub species. Dwarf citrus varieties can perform well while providing flowers, fruit and attractive foliage. Cactus and many shrubs can also do well in containers.
Terracotta pots generally do well on patios and their weight adds stability. Lighter pots are easier to move. However, there’s more of a chance they might get blown over. All pots should have drainage holes in the bottom.
Soil needs to drain well but it should also retain adequate moisture. For pots that will not be moved very often, a mixture of sand, soil and organic matter works well. For lighter pots, commercial potting mix can be used. With lighter soil mixes, the plant may need to be protected from being blown over in high wind.
The Growing Conditions
Pots may need to be shaded in summer because high soil temperatures can kill roots. Soil can also be cooled with irrigation. You may need to increase watering in hot, windy weather. A soil moisture sensor can help guide irrigation decisions. Plants that will stay in containers for decades need regular pruning to maintain their size. Root pruning is also beneficial to maintain plant size. Soil nutrient and pH levels should be monitored and deficiencies treated with fertilizer when detected.
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