The Q&A Archives: Small Trees In Containers

Question: I live in southern Virginia and am interested in planting a small tree in a container on my deck. Any recommendations? This area of my home receives the morning and midday sun. I would like to plant a small tree which has a trunk and branches out on the top so I can plant some annuals in the same container. I would like to be able to leave this out during the winter.

Answer: There are many dwarf trees that adapt to container growth: Japanese maples, many conifers...any plant that is used for bonasi will adapt to container culture. If you're going to purchase the at a nearby nursery, tour several to get an idea of what is available, and what you like. Be sure to ask the nursery if the tree you are interested in will do well in a container.

Leaving the container out for the winter can be tricky. If the soil in the planter is likely to freeze, it will probably kill your tree unless you insulate the pot. Wrap the pot with at least 6 inches foam or straw before winter sets in, and wrap the top in burlap to prevent the branches from drying out in winter winds. If you can, it's best to simply sink the pot into the ground for the winter. Make sure the area where you plant the pot drains well so the roots aren't waterlogged. If your area is frost-free, just don't let the soil dry out during the winter. In the spring, you can lift the pot out of the hole and place it back on your deck. Enjoy your container garden!

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