Growing Columnar Apple Trees in containers

Planting. When you're ready to plant, the first thing you should do is soak the roots of your fruit plants for an hour or so before they go in the ground. Use a 5-gallon bucket or equivalent and fill with water. Unwrap your plants, remove the packing material, and place their roots in the water. Don't let the roots dry out as you're planting.

Plant in a container that is 16-20" in diameter using good-quality potting soil. The tree should be planted so that the graft union (the swollen-looking bump in the trunk near the base of the tree) will be no more than 1" above the surface. Place the container outdoors in full sun for the growing season.

Watering. Plants in containers dry out more quickly than plants in the ground, so it’s important to water your plants regularly.

Fertilizing. We recommend against fertilizing at planting time because fertilizer can injure roots and your tree needs time to settle before being pushed to grow. The year after planting (and every year thereafter), fertilize your plants with a light application of 5-10-10 fertilizer once each month from April through August.

Wintering over. In colder climates (Zone 5), you can overwinter plants in their containers by storing them in a sheltered, unheated area such as a garage or shed once the leaves drop in fall. In warmer climates where freeze-thaw cycles occur, store plants on a protected porch. Where freezing is not a concern, plants can remain outdoors in containers and enjoyed year-round.