Anyone growing apples in containers?

Anyone growing apples in containers?
What rootstock an pot size are you using?
I’m thinking about grafting and growing in containers a delicious unknown apple I found. I was thinking about using EMLA 27 rootstock any tried it?


M7 should be ok…it does make a good root system, so moving it to larger pots/containers over time is likely going to be necessary. (Preferrable to starting in a 50 or more gallon container to start).

I have lots of apples in containers, and I select the smallest one the root fits in comfortably at the time I pot it. Then, I plan to move it to a bigger pot, or plant or to sell in due time.
(I do have some on M9, B9, B10 and G41 rootstocks that I probably continue to crop in 15 to 30 gallon pots over a longer number of years.)


I have one apple on M27 in a #25 pot. it’s a neat rootstock, comically fruitful (the tree arrived as a 3 foot whip with flower buds from base to top, and as it grows, every branch is that way) It needs tons of support, I have mine surrounded by three stakes in the pot because one center stake didn’t seem like enough. I don’t think I’ll use M27 more because my other stuff on M26, M7, M9 in pots seems to do the same but needs less support and fills the space faster (I’m generally trying for 8-10 foot tall “tall spindle style”, not a mini branched tree)

if I was more into apples and wanted tons of little trees integrated into a garden, like 5 feet tall or shorter, I think you could do some really interesting layouts with it. I pretty much agree with this - In praise of the M27 apple rootstock


I have 6 apples on G41 and G11 in 15 gallon fabric pots. It was all I had at the time or I would have started with 20 gal. They will be coming into their 4th leaf and two fruited last year: Ashmead’s Kernel and Goldrush. I would say the biggest annoyance with these is trying to stake them in a smallish fabric pot. They are not the most beautiful specimens, but it was a learning experience. I feel confident I could grow them better in a taller plastic air pot with double staking if I did it again.


I have had good luck using the bag handles as tie downs then punching 2-3 more holes (think large sewing needle) at the midpoint between the handles. I then tie it down to the bag about half way to 3/4 the way up the stem. It keeps the bag cinched tight so it doesn’t sag. And stabilizes the bag/soil to the tree so they move together. I like to use jute or hemp twine. Then restring it every spring so it doesn’t girdle. It also helps to tie around both a support stake and the main stem parallel and together. I usually just do 2 half hitches around both. That way it is easy to loosen if you have a big growth spurt.

I have also put a more substantial support 3/4- 1” diameter thru the bottom of the bag first. Cut a small hole off center from the bag and hammer it thru the bag empty about 6-8”. I like to use pvc for this. Then plant it up in place where you want it once hammered into the ground. This is useful if the whole thing keeps blowing over in wind storms. It’s pretty easy to back the whole thing out and drag it slightly tilted if you need to move it. Then hammer it back down.


Those are some clever hacks - thank you for sharing!

I wish I could show you some pics. But most of the pics are not fruit. It’s the kind of “trees” that are annuals that I think some fruit members would literally have a heart attack over. Rhymes with bannabis.

I did do this to my small nectarine trees before they got planted into the ground. They were like this for 3 seasons. Unfortunately I did not take any pics…


thank you, im thinking about b9 instead. How does it do in containers?

1 Like

I’ve not cropped much yet on B-9 although I grafted over 100 on this root 2 years ago and a smaller number prior to that. So, the jury is out, so to speak.

But, the B-9 is more tolerant of drought than the Geneva roots in the same size catagory.

I think staking is going to be required…though I’ve not done it for most of mine yet.

Many cultivars should have some blooms 2 years from grafting onto B9…but if you let it have much fruit, it seems to stunt the tree significantly. Again, those are just early observations, and my thoughts could change over time.


I’m hoping to raise B-10 in containers…perhaps 10 gallon, though larger may be needed…and hope not to have to stake. But, too early to tell. I do have my first tree on B-10 in a 7 gallon and it’s 6 feet tall and is going to bloom (and bear if freezes don’t destroy the crop) this year.


Have you tried g890 or emla106 for a in ground free standing tree. Im looking at one of them for in my backyard zone 6b WV decently draining soil. Or do you have better recommendations?

1 Like

I will have to check this one out

I have 2 standard size Zestar!, a mountain rose apple on M-7, Spitzenburg on M111, I have tried different variations of Fuji apples on semi dwarf rootstock and a pink lady on semi dwarf rootstock. The pink lady apple has done fine other than a wooly aphid infestation, the Zestar!, Spitzenburg and mountain rose apple have all done fine as well. The variations of Fuji have all been very brittle and many of their branches break off and die. I wonder if that is just a characteristic of Fuji trees. The Zestar! and pink lady tried to fruit first year but the flowers had a freeze and had a lack of pollinators. I have the pink lady and the mountain rose in 25 inch pots but gallons are not mentioned on the pot I bought.

My parents planted a Starkrimson Red Delicious and a Stark Earliblaze in 1978 I think …
both are still alive and the rootstock M106.
Planted on a slope that drains pretty good, but is frost prone location.
Nobody has such a long history using G890, but the advertising sounds like it may be a little more compact than M106 and better for questionable drainage and replant locations.
But, M106 is proven a good root so long as you have adequate drainage and don’t live in really cold places.

1 Like

I have heard apples have a long life system. Some claim 100 years on standard so I would assume even longer than that 100 years for backyard orchards if treated right. A pear or apple tree should outlast you in terms of fruit and nut trees should outlast generations.

1 Like

I have this NovaMac on B9 in a imitation half whiskey barrel planter that I got from local TSC store.

Experimenting with espellar on it. I have it located on my south facing brick wall now. It has not budded out early… glad of that.

I just got it last spring and B9 was the only rootstock it was available on.

I have another that I grafted to M7 planted out in my field.

Hoping i might get some fruit from the espellar tree this year. I summer pruned it last year… and it developed what looks like some fruit spurs to me.


Wow it looks great!

1 Like

@Fishinjunky that NovaMac arrived last spring as a long whip… but unfortunately it was damaged in shipping and part of the top broken.

I lopped off the damaged part (top 2 ft of that whip) and planted the rest. To my suprise it bloomed one cluster and then sent out all those shoots last year.

This is my only experience at growing a fruit tree in a container… but so far seems to be working well.

With a larger container and 2-3 inches of mulch on top… you can get by with less watering.

I gave my novamac 4 gal of water once a week on friday… but only if no rain that week. It never looked stressed and grew well.


Apples appear to do great in containers. I have several on many types of rootstocks – EMLA 26, Bud 118, Bud 9 and several more that I dont remember. Most are about 6+ years old.
If you are using a pot, I recommend using a vigorous rootstock such as Bud 118. The pot will do the dwarfing for you and the tree will produce heavily while small.

The worst rootstock I’ve ever used was M27. Tree would fall over every summer when it was loaded with fruit. Staking was all but essential. And branches would sometimes break even after heavy thinning. Trees grow stunted with swollen graft unions that look unsightly.
M26 based trees grow much more healthier and do fine in pots. As does Bud 118.


I agree with ramv that vigorous roostocks work well for potted apples. I’ve (mostly unintentionally) kept apples in pots on EMLA 111 and other more dwarfing rootstocks. The ones on 111 did better, recovering more quickly from the inevitable periods of stress, drought, etc. Early fruiting apple varieties and applecrabs were more likely to produce edible fruit for me. Early varieties have less time on the tree to get neglected and applecrabs are less likely to overload small branches.