First time potting fruit trees

I’ve got two Asian persimmons arriving soon and would like some critique and advice for growing them in pots. I live in northern Utah and they aren’t cold hardy here (-18 F in 2017) and the summer sun can be intense, though rarely gets over 100 F. I’ve never grown fruit trees in containers (though I have 40+ growing in the ground in my yard).

My current plan:
I painted two 20-gallon studier plastic pots white that I’ll line with water permeable weed barrier fabric and fill with Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting mix, mulched with wood chips. I won’t dig the pots into the ground in summer, but I can pile wood chips around them to help keep them cool if needed. I’ll water them at least every other day.

In the winter, I’ll keep them in an attached, unheated garage.


  1. How high from the lip of the pot should the soil/tree be set to account for soil settling over time? Should I try to compact the soil a little as I fill the container?

  2. What kind of fertilizer should I use and how often?

  3. Is something like 20 - 40 F a good temperature range in the winter?

Thanks for any thoughts…

  1. I fill right to the top and I do tamp down a little in order to minimize settling. watering it in (a ton of water) helps it settle. I still get an inch or two of settling later then fill that space with bark mulch. potting mix will continue to break down and settle over the years and you’ll need to pull the trees out and add more to the bottom at some point

  2. controlled release fertilizer (crf) such as osmocote is like a cheat code for potted plants. I use a balanced one with micros with a 9 month release which is good for my climate. I put it on once in the spring and I’m done. it’s expensive, about $1 per year per #25 pot, a little less if you find it at a coop, but it saves a huge amount of time

2a. drip irrigation is really good for potted plants. same idea as crf, it keeps them perfectly supplied

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Most ‘top soil’ and most ‘potting soil’ end up shrinking a lot over time.

Potting soil is much over-used…should be mostly for indoor plants and annuals.

Bagged “topsoil” that has a lot of peat and bark also shrinks … and often I blend in real dirt for my purposes if available at the time of potting up shrubs and trees.
I can let rainfall do most of my ‘irrigation’
also by using actual soil in my potting mixes.

The MG potting soil will not provide adequate aeration and will compact over time. You need to use something like pine bark (less than 1/2 inch pieces), peat moss and Perlite (at least 1/4 inch) in a ratio of 5:1:1 and garden lime (1 Tb/gal mix). This will require more frequent watering than the MG mix. If frequent watering is a problem, increase the proportion of peat moss.

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I potted the Jiro in a 20 gallon pot in mid-May and it is doing well even with our early, hot summer. I wish I had used a 10 gallon for easier portability, but my inclination is to leave it as is and not disturb the roots.

The Tam Kam arrived yesterday and I put it in a 10 gallon pot.


I also ordered a small Prok that I’ll put in the ground but there’s a dying peach tree there now that I want to wait to harvest before cutting. Should I pot the Prok up and plant in fall, or plant under the peach now even though it will get some shade?

Fingers crossed.

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Get the cheap pots that stack together. Burry one in the ground flush, then you can use it as a socket to put your planted tree on. When you put mulch on top you can’t even tell that the tree is not really planted in the ground.

I would find a pot with a strong lip so I can put a rope handle on each side to make it easy for two people to move around. Don’t forget that trees still need water during dormancy, don’t let your pot go bone dry.

Any advice on down potting the 20 gallon one (first picture)?

I got too ambitious and it would make it so much easier to move around. It’s been in the pot for a couple of months. Wait until dormant?

It’s doing really well so if it will set it back, I’ll probably just leave it.

How much money or effort you want to spend?

Get a trashcan dolly:


You can upsize the wheels to make it easier to move in uneven ground.

Or something like this:


On the cheap: Rig a rope with handles so two people can deal with it in a few minutes.


And a moving tarp can help a lot


If you’re careful you can do lots of things. I just moved a tomato from a 2 gallon to a 5 gallon pot.
No problem.