9 Tips for Growing Container Trees
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6. Get in the zone.
If your container tree spends the winter outdoors, its roots will be exposed to colder temps than an in-ground tree—a whole zone colder, in fact. For example, if you live in zone 6, your container tree will feel like it’s living through a zone 5 winter. Keep this in mind when selecting container trees for hardiness.
7. Invest in some wheels.
If you want to move your container trees indoors for the winter, consider investing in a hand truck (also called a dolly). I consider my hand truck the best $60 I ever spent because I no longer have to lift or carry my heavy containers. And it’s useful for other tasks, such as moving furniture and appliances.
8. Set up where the sun is sure to shine.
Remember, sunlight is the plant’s main source of food. Place indoor trees in a sunny window. Mine spend the winter in front of a large west-facing window that gets strong afternoon sun.
9. Tune in to your tree’s language.
Here’s the most important tip: It’s impossible to maintain perfect conditions for a potted tree 24/7/365. At some point, your tree will wilt, drop leaves, not set flowers or drop fruit. These aren’t disasters. Instead, they are lessons in your curriculum as a new tree tender.
If your container tree has been content with watering once a week but then drops some leaves, this is an opportunity for you to discover why. Maybe it’s reacting to being moved to a new spot that’s too sunny or too shady or low on fertilizer and the newer leaves have raided the older ones of their nitrogen. Or maybe it’s just the season when even evergreens normally drop older leaves, so there’s nothing to worry about. Dwarf trees are living things and becoming a good gardener is a matter of recognizing the little clues they give you.
About the Author: Frank Hyman is Urban Farm’s Green Thumb columnist. Learn more about him at www.greatgardenspeakers.com.
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