Miniature Trees Grow Full-Sized Fruit

You can grow fresh fruit on your patio or balcony thanks to new varieties of mini fruit trees that produce full-sized fruit.

Columnar apples are one of the most popular mini tree fruits. They grow to a maximum height of 6 to 8 ft., have only upright branches, and get no wider than 2 to 3 ft. The leaves and fruit are anchored right to the trunk and the sight of one is still a real novelty to most people. They require no labor-intensive pruning or spraying, like their ordinary orchard cousins.

Gilbert, of One Green World Nursery, Molalla, Ore., says the columnar apple was first discovered as a mutant tree in Canada in the 1930's, but it has only been during the past 10 to 15 years that these tasty and productive varieties have been commercially promoted. Gilbert encourages people to use them in landscaping around the house.

"Because they are so new, there is very little information available to home gardeners, telling them about these valuable plants. All three available varieties have MacIntosh in their parentage. Who would have thought you could grow such great eating apples right on your back step?" says Gilbert.

"Care must be taken when growing potted columnar apples in regions with very cold winters," Gilbert points out. "The plants need two to three months of cool temperatures (below 45 degrees F) to satisfy their dormancy requirements, but the roots can be damaged if the pot freezes solid. It is recommended that the pot be wrapped with old blankets or other insulating material during the winter. The plant can then be kept in a garage or other cool but protected area."

Popularity of the columnar apple has led to the development of a wide variety of other mini-fruit plants such as pee-wee lemons and oranges, bonsai Cabernet or Concord grapevine, potted cranberry, dwarf banana, Garden Gold peaches and Dwarf top-hat blueberries.

"We supply several mail order nurseries including Miller, Jung, Mellinger's, and Raintree, besides our own mail order business," notes Gilbert.

For availability in Canada, check local garden centers.