Fans and Espaliers growing in pots
My garden is quite small but I am determined to have a few fruit varieties in the garden in the forms of fans and espaliers in containers - I can follow all the planting and pruning necessary from your excellent website, so I am not daunted by it - but I can't work out how big a container I should have, I know they don't stay in their pots forever but what size suitable to start off in?
My little trees would have limited space, imagine a courtyard garden. They would fan to a height of six or seven feet - it's a sunny rear garden and I would like a selection of trees, apricot, apple, pear etc.
Thanks for your interesting enquiry - and I note you are in a sunny part of the country, which is good as gives you plenty of options. For apples, I would consider using the extremely dwarfing M27 rootstock. We sell quite a few of these, and the great thing about them is the mature tree is about the same size as a person, so roughly 6ft tall or so. You can plant them quite close together, we have an experimental plot with 10 of them in a space 3m by 7m. Also, because they are so small they bring a human scale to the garden-orchard that is impossible with all other rootstocks (which produce trees that are bigger than we are) and they do not 'take over' an area of the garden as a bigger tree would. These trees can either be grown in open ground, or in containers - perhaps 20L or so to begin with. In either case they need a permanent stake as they cannot support themselves.
To start, have a look at our Stock Search page ... and in the 'rootstocks' drop-down, select 'rootstock - M27', then press the search button.
Regarding fans / espaliers, I would suggest starting with a plum such as Opal, trained as a fan. I realise you did not say plums, but I think they are a bit easier than apricots or pears.
You asked about the container size - well, for growing a fan/espalier I think you will be better planting directly into the soil rather than in a container. When placing an order for a tree that is to be grown as a fan or espalier, you are usually better off choosing 1-year old trees as these are easier to train to the desired shape - so either bare-root or trees that come in a 3L container. Overall my suggestion would be to consider apples on M27 dotted around the garden, with a couple of apricots / pears / plums trained as fans against the (south-facing) walls.
Tagscontainer size, espaliers, fans, M27, rootstocks
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