There are many different kinds of trees a homeowner can plant on a balcony, including many dwarf varieties specifically designed for indoor use. The amount of sun, wind and shade are determining factors in choosing the tree type, as well as how large a container can be accommodated.
The first thing to do is look at the balcony where the tree will be placed. The size and location in relation to the sun are both important factors in determining what tree to choose. Many dwarf varieties of fruit trees do not need blazing sun but some tropical trees do. Determine if watering the tree will be difficult. Temperature variations are also a concern, although trees in containers can be moved inside, if necessary.
Dwarf fruit trees are not only a pretty addition to the balcony with their flowers, they also provide tasty additions to the dining table. Dwarf fig, pomegranate, banana, Key lime, Meyer lemon, orange, grapefruit, apple, Mediterranean olive and even coffee plants are possibilities. They need frequent watering and must be moved inside in the winter in colder climates. Once mature, they range in height from 2 to 10 feet tall.
There are several varieties that are considered to be indoor plants that can easily be transferred to life on a balcony, including Norfolk Island pine, screw pine, India rubber tree and dwarf parlor palm. According to the Montana Master Gardener Handbook, these trees are large, decorative specimens that are traditionally found in tropical climates, so they cannot handle cold temperatures. Although quite large in their native habitat, in containers they grow to 10 feet or less.
There are some traditional smaller trees that make good container plants, such as dogwood, Japanese maple, Sargent crabapple and some magnolias. They grow from 4 to 10 feet tall. Even larger trees can be grown in containers, such as honeylocust and river birch. The larger the tree, the larger the container will have to be. Wind can be a problem so containers need to be heavy enough to keep from blowing over.
As with growing any plant in a container, there are several considerations such as having good water drainage, adequate water holding capacity, and using the proper growing media. The Montana Master Gardener Handbook notes that regular feeding will be necessary. Some gardeners keep the tree in the container for a short period and then plant it in a permanent location when it outgrows the container or they give it away to someone with a yard.
- "The Montana Master Gardener Handbook": Dr. Robert E. Gough, Cheryl Moore-Gough, M.S.: 2008
- Photo Credit pot de fleur image by margouillat photo from Fotolia.com
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