Container growing is an excellent option for more than just flowers and herbs. You can grow a variety of delicious fruits in containers by choosing the right varieties and providing the right conditions. You may already be growing dwarf fruit trees in containers, now consider expanding your home-grown fruit basket to include container-grown strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or even grapes.
Strawberries have long been popular as container plants. Multi-pocketed “strawberry jars” were developed long ago so that many strawberry plants could be grown around the sides and out the top of a terra cotta pot. Any variety of strawberry can be grown in a container and they do particularly well in hanging baskets or stacked pots so that the plants can spill over the edges, keeping the fruit from laying on the soil.
Recently developed varieties of raspberries and blueberries, such as ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ and ‘Blueberry Glaze’, have been bred for a more compact growth habit suitable for containers and perfect for decorating a patio. While raspberries can be grown singly, blueberries need cross-pollination from a second plant, so plan on planting more than one container of blueberries.
Thornless blackberries are another delicious option for container-growing. Most thornless varieties, such as ‘Arapaho’, ‘Chester’, and ‘Triple Crown’, are less vigorous growers than the thorned varieties but still produce a good amount of berries. Even in containers blackberry canes will grow long enough to require staking, so plan on installing a trellis or cage when you plant.
Grapes are another option for container growing. You can stake a grape vine and train it into a “weeping” form with the branches cascading downward, or you can attach a trellis to support the branches growing horizontally. There are even newly cultivated dwarf grape vines called Pixie®grapes that grow to just 18–24” and can be grown in a table-top container.
Be sure to select a plant that is suited to container growing, meaning that it is bred for or capable of being trained into a compact form. With the right plant selection and the right growing conditions—full sun, regular water, and feeding—your morning fruit bowl can be picked right from your patio!
*Chill hours refers to the number of hours when the air temperature is below 45°F. Some plants require a minimum amount of chill in order to set fruit. Check this chart from the UC Davis Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center to find the number of chill hours recorded in your area and select a plant that requires no more than that amount of chill.