The Q&A Archives: Potted Trees

Question: Are there any trees that can be grown in wood containers in my area of the country. I am looking to have a tree that is a quick grower and will grow to about 12'

Answer: You might be able to push a silver maple or corkscrew willow with lots of water and fertilizer to this height in a large container during the summer, however overwintering the tree is problematic and to be honest I doubt you would succeed. In part this is due to its large size in comparison to the container so the roots become crowded quite fast and also tend to dry out too fast, and in part to the lack of insulation due to being above ground rather than planted down in the soil resulting in decreased winter hardiness, and in part to its propensity to being top heavy and blowing over or snapping in windstorms; a wooden box planter is also likely to degrade quickly in the NY climate compared to say southern California where the boxes are commonly used for this purpose.

If you had a hoop house or similar cool shelter where it could overwinter in a dormant state then your chances would be better of it surviving the winter, but the other problems would still exist.

You might manage a purpleleaf sand cherry or crabapple tree to about six feet in a large container though, especially if you can insulate the roots by heaping mulch over and around the container each winter and/or it is in a sheltered location with protection from winter wind. Even so, it would probably need replacing from time to time. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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