6b potted fruit trees

I am curious what all types of potted fruit trees everyone is having luck with in 6b that wouldn’t do well in the ground. These would be plants that I plant in 20 gallon fabric pots, stay outside after last frost, and go in a unheated garage all winter. I have read some past posts on fig trees and pakistan mulberry. Is there anything else out there interesting that people are having success with? Can this be done with dwarf sweet cherries with good success?

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They should be fine in the ground. I have a couple in ground now for 5 years and 7 years.
Dwarf is kinda misleading these are massive trees. They are the hardest to keep small. Mine are on Gisela rootstock 5 and 6. I’m in zone 6a/5b
I have an attached garage, if stand alone it would be too cold for figs. I also keep pomegranates in with the figs. I have a nigra mulberry too.

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Thanks @Drew51 I think the sweet cherries would live fine here as far as hardiness, but not sure about fruit production. According to others, they bloom to early for Kansas late freezes/frosts so expect very little as far as fruit production. I also have an attached garage, so I’m going to try some figs. I would appreciate it if others would comment on their experiences in these zones.

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I started some HC fig cuttings in the spring of 2017. The first summer I let them dry out in gallon pots in late summer and they wen dormant. I up potted them to twelve gallon containers spring of 2018 and was pleasantly surprised to have tasty figs to enjoy in late summer. I did have an issue with ants but I solved by moving the figs and elevating the pots on inverted five gallon buckets. They are very easy to take care of in my opinion.

Yes they might, now I see where you’re coming from. Hey it could not hurt to try worse case it dies, or you decide to plant it out. The pot will keep the tree small. I have over 100 plants in containers. I just started with some normal trees like mulberries. In ground performance here is way better, but it is not always possible. I was thinking the grow like crazy to a large tree mulberries will stay at a more reasonable size and not shade out half my garden.

The biggest problem is the demand for water trees have. The attached garage is perfect. Also you can set up a space heater to go on if it drops too low. Most of the time I don’t even use one, but I have one and a thermostat, sold all over.
Leave your trees out till they are well dormant, since the problem is the spring you want to make sure they are very dormant when you put them in the garage. With figs I wait till outside temps go below 25F, with Cherry I would probably wait 3 weeks longer.
You might also have a problem with them coming out of dormancy to quickly, this may be a problem. I have had nothing but bad luck with plants that tend to do this. So have no real advice.

This chart may help you out on deciding to plant in ground or not, or at least what you have to watch out for. I at times have to protect my fruit buds and do with a incandescent light to produce heat and a tarp!

You can see with the cart how much buds can take. Sweet cherries are fairly hardy, At full bloom they can take 29F without damage for 30 minutes. The chart helps a lot if in this situation as to when to protect or not. You might be best served by keeping them in fabric bags and leaving out all winter, and just bring in in the spring if temps hit critical mass.
MSU is my Alma Mater and Michigan depends on the cherry crop, we know our stuff here. It is a major focus at MSU. MSU works closely with Washington and Oregon universities. They often have joint research programs. Material on the chart is from MSU and WSU.

Don’t forget you will need to protect cherries too. I use American Netting, the green stuff. Best nets made. I use two 15x15, but I’m going to open my wallett and buy 30x 30. Here is my White Gold tree.

I keep the tree well pruned to keep it at a resonable size. Rootstock is Gisela 6. I highly suggest this rootstock. Here is my tree a little after full bloom. I got about 300 cherries off this bloom.


Thanks for the great advice! @Drew51 I saw in another post where you use the KGB pruning on your cherries and you prune in March to help out with disease. My last frost date is usually May 5, so I should probably be pruning cherries around March 1st? Do you put a sealer/grafter compound on these cuts? I planted my first sweet cherry in my yard last year and it only put out two limbs. Would you clip this tree right above the two limbs and then clip about 6 inches off each limb to start off this kgb method. I have watched some videos, but they have all been for later years with lots of growth.

The KGB method is simple, yet it’s not! I’m modifying it to fit my needs these days. The main principle is to prune and let the tree grow in two directions from the cut. let them grow out a foot or so, and prune back to 6 inches. I do this about three times, then use all branches as scaffolds. You want about 20-25 of them. After 5-6 years you stub prune and renew the main branch. This is what I will modify. After first removal I probably will keep 2nd branch longer as I’m adding new cultivars to my tree at this point. The best time to prune is in the middle of the summer when it is the driest. Around August 1st. I usually have to prune early because the darn thing grows so much, so often have to prune in the spring and the summer. Last year I just pruned in the summer, I plan on grafting so will prune around May 1st in the spring this year, and spray the tree. I don’t put sealant on the cuts but after I prune I spray the same day. I used Kocide copper which is the strongest form available. Sweet cherries are very susceptible to winter fungal infections and fungal infections in general. This helps a lot! I have never had one doing this. I also spray them with copper before bud break in late winter. The liquid coppers are so weak they are fairly useless. Better than nothing but not by much.

My Meyer lemon has been doing surprisingly well in 7a. It’s in a 10gal container now and I bring it outside in the spring after all risk of frost has passed (I get antsy and end up having to bring it in and out a couple times) and then bring it inside to a large south facing window in the fall when the lows start dropping to 40-45°F. It enters a mild kind of dormancy for a month or two indoors and loses a couple leaves but then bounces back and starts flowering like crazy around mid January.

My plan is to up-pot it to a 15 gal in the spring and continue to prune it to be as bushy as possible, and then just do a root pruning every other year.

Yes that method works well for citrus. They do have to be brought in the house. Seems Meyer lemon and Bearss lime are the best types to do this. I know a guy who has had Bearss lime for 15 years. I have an heirloom Amish orange I grew from seed. I purchased the fruit in Sarasota Florida which has a large Amish community there. Lot’s a good stuff they sell. I would be there all the time if I lived there. Here I go to Eastern market for Amish fruit. Which is the best! Anyway mine is just an experiment, orange trees in the house is not going to easy. I may buy special lights just for them, if I decide to keep it.

@Drew51 I did not head my cherry tree at 24 inches last year when I planted it. I had not found this forum and basically had no idea what I was doing. I think it was headed by the nurser at about 48 inches. Would you head this tree again at 24 inches and would you wait until August or do it earlier to get growth where needed?

I’m guessing I need to head this tree sometime soon since heading it late would likely kill it?

I would try and work with the scaffolds present. I’m not a fan of heading trees unless caliper is 1/2 inch or less. Luckily cherry trees respond well to pruning. So it’s a little higher, it will be fine. I have many trees like that. I actually only do the knee high cutting to my own seedlings. Peach trees sometimes will not sprout new branches, you can lose a tree that way. And yes you can prune in the spring if you want a head start. Try to do it in a dry period. . You could head it, but I feel it’s not that big a deal and also worry it will not sprout new branches. It probably would but you never know…It sets you back too.

@Drew51 what brand of fabric pot have you found to work for best for you? Are you starting them in small fabric pots and working your way up every couple years?

The best kind I think are smart pots, I think that is what they are called? Too expensive! I have over 100. i use root pouches. Also it’s hard to reuse them as the roots stick to the fabric, So I start say a fig tree in smaller plastic pots, and then up put to 10 gallon. They will stay in them till they fall apart. About 4 or 5 years. I will up pot at that time stopping at 25 to 30 gallon size. I will root prune at that point to keep them in the same size pots. I may mulch with new soil from time to time if room allows. Figs can be buried deep so it doesn’t matter.

Other fruit trees I have are mulberries, but in general I try to plant out trees. Fruit bushes work and perform well in pots. Like currants, honeyberries, and blueberries.

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I’m growing persimmons and figs in containers.

When I take them out of the garage in the spring, what low temperatures should I consider taking them back inside temporarily?

Something like that chart but for less traditional fruit.

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On the figs, once they are leafed out, I bring them back in every time it freezes or frosts. I built a couple carts to help with it this year. The fig shuffle is not fun to deal with, these carts make it much easier unless you just have a couple. I can’t speak for established persimmons in pots. I wouldn’t want newly grafted persimmons in pots freezing or getting frosts.

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