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'Mini' fruit trees - any good?

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  • 'Mini' fruit trees - any good?

    Hiya

    Just picked up the March GYO mag and am extremely tempted by the mini cherry trees on page 37 for £12 each. I'd love one for my birthday but I'm not sure what variety the trees are.

    Would they get much bigger than the 1m/3ft tall the ad says? It says it fruits from July but would that be this year? How on earth do you prune and care for a mini fruit tree? And does the fact they're supplied pot grown mean anything other than they are purposefully kept dwarfed?

    Thanks for any help! I'd be ecstatic about having my own cherries

  • #2
    Cherries may need protection from birds.

    Dwarf really means just that; very small and slow growing. The variety will have been grafted onto a very slow growing rootstock.
    The "dwarfing" rootstocks usually need regular feeding and watering and will not thrive in garden soil unless the soil is quite good.

    All fruit trees need time to mature, before producing a good crop. A dwarf tree will fruit sooner - quite likely the first year after planting - but will never produce a large crop. On a 3ft "patio tree", you'll only get a few bowlfuls of cherries. A 3ft patio apple or pear would produce 10-20 fruits per year (depending on fruit size). A 3ft patio plum would produce 20-30 plums a year.

    Another problem of a small crop on apples, pears or plums is that the pests (wasps, insects etc) quickly destroy the few fruits. On a larger tree or bush (one which produces 50-100 apples/pears per year), there is enough for the pests to take a share and still leave a good number for you. Some varieties are more prone to pests or diseases than others.

    With all trees or bushes, no matter which rootstock, some pruning will usually be required to maintain a good shape, although some varieties are very good at forming a good shape naturally , therefore not needing much pruning.

    Dwarfs may get larger than 3-4ft if never pruned, but without a limited supply of young shoots each year, a tree will become old and unproductive - possibly with some decay in branches that have died back (therefore best removed). The best fruits are produced on branches/twigs that are 2-5 years old.

    Growing in containers restricts the roots, which enhances a dwarfing effect. I don't doubt that the cherries that you're looking at will be as described.
    If they do become too vigorous, pruning excessive new growth in July and perhaps slightly reducing feeding/watering is a great way to redirect that energy into fruit bud formation for the following year.

    ..................

    I am neither a fan of dwarfing rootstocks, nor container growing.
    I view container plants as being like having a pet: you are a servant to it, rather than it being a servant to you.

    If you have the space, it is - in my opinion - much better to plant a fruit tree on a medium vigour rootstock in the garden; they can grow deep and wide roots to find all the nutrients and water that they need. With good pruning and the correct rootstock choise, bush-trees can be maintained at 2m or less, with very little other care required.

    Dwarfs need a regular and even water supply (cherries and plums split if too much or too little water), but it is difficult in summer to keep plants well watered and to keep the compost moist for long enough. Watering every two days may be necessary - container-grown plants may well die of dehydration while you're on a two-week holiday.

    The very slow growing nature of dwarfs makes it difficult and slow for them to recover from damage - such as broken branches or where a branch needs removing because of disease.
    .

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    • #3
      I have a m27 ashmead kernal apple tree, and its great. Last year I got about a dozen apples off it last year. Mine is in a huge pot as we rent our house, but I feed it with chicken pellets and top dress it ever year and its done really well. Plus we get the beautiful blossom in the springtime....can't wait for that!
      My mind works like lightning, One brilliant flash and it is gone!

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