Even in the smallest gardens it is possible to pick your own delicious apples straight from the tree; simply grow one in a large pot. Although we imagine apples as large trees, some varieties are naturally more compact. Their size is also influenced by the rootstock they are grown on. Some rootstocks result in smaller trees: perfect for growing in pots and containers.
Choosing the right variety and rootstock
Garden centres and nurseries may have a bewildering selection to choose from. Choose a variety that is easy to grow, heavy cropping and either self-fertile or sets fruit easily. Some types of apple are fussier and really do not set a good crop without another variety to choose from; that’s less of a problem if you have 2 or more trees.
Good ones to go for include ‘James Grieve’, ‘Falstaff’, ‘Sunset’, ‘Cox’s Self Fertile’ and ‘Royal Gala’. These are either self-fertile or set a good crop easily from ornamental malus and apple pollen carried by bees from neighboring gardens.
When it comes to rootstocks M27 is the most dwarfing, followed by M9. Both of these will need secure staking for the whole life of the tree. Their fragile roots are easily damaged by wind-rock. They are ideal for sheltered courtyards and positions near the house.
M26 is semi-dwarfing, stronger and a good choice where there is a little more space and a large pot or container can be accommodated.
Go slim with ‘Starline’
Apple starline‘Starline’ apples grow as a single stem: no branches just a pole with fruiting spurs all the way up from the ground. They usually grow up to 2 metres in height: a tower of blossom in the spring and attractive fruits from late summer. There are several varieties to choose from, all of good flavor and cropping prolifically. ‘Blue Moon’ is perhaps the most unusual with attractive purple-grey fruits with pinkish flesh; aromatic and delicious.
The Starline varieties are excellent where space is limited.
Article by Andy McIdoe for Vitax