Dwarf fruit trees are being harvested in a greenhouse for centuries now. In fact, the greenhouse was often referred to as orangeries because in the 19th century England, greenhouses were used for growing oranges in winter. It is possible to grow different types of fruit trees in a greenhouse under monitored temperature and environment.
Popular amongst them are pears, peaches, bananas, oranges, and tropical fruits that require year-round warmth. Apples are not a good choice. They need winter chill to fruit. However, certain pertinent questions need to be answered before you decide to grow dwarf fruit trees in a greenhouse.
Things to do when growing dwarf fruit trees in a greenhouse
Decide which dwarf fruit trees you want to grow
Growing dwarf fruit trees in a greenhouse is a rewarding experience, but it is essential to know which trees should be grown. The first step is to identify the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone you are in. Once you know this, it will become easier to select the fruit trees that will grow well in the area.
Decide on the type of greenhouse along with the size and where to place the greenhouse
There are three types of greenhouses – one with cooling systems such as air conditioners and fans and the second one with the heating unit. The third is the one with different levels of shade cloth. Depending on the type of fruits that you want to cultivate, you need to shortlist the greenhouse accordingly.
The size of the greenhouse again depends on two factors – the number of fruit trees you wish to grow and whether it will be in-ground or in-container style cultivation. It is recommended that you purchase the most abundant greenhouse that you can afford, depending on the location where you wish to set it up. After all, you need space to walk between the trees so that you can water them and look after them.
The choice of location is dependent on three factors:
- Full sun
- Partial sun
- Full shade.
Depending on the location and the type of fruits that you are planning to grow in the greenhouse will decide, which one to opt for. Ideally, the tree must get a long day of full sun to produce good quality fruits.
Do you want in-ground or container fruit trees?
There are pros and cons to both options.
In the case of in-containers, you require more effort. It is costly, as well. You have to water the plants more frequently and fertilize them often. You will have to purchase containers and soil mixes to ensure better growth of the trees.
The advantage is you can grow multiple dwarf fruit trees in your greenhouse. They take less space and thus have the opportunity to experiment with different types and varieties of fruit trees to find out which does well in your area.
In the case of in-ground cultivation, the tree requires less maintenance and care. Moreover, the quantities of fruits produced are more as compared to in-container ones.
From where will the fruit trees be sourced?
You can purchase fruit trees from different sources. Since you are planning to grow a fruit tree that is not native to your areas, it will be difficult to find the sapling in a local nursery. However, there are many different online retailers from where you can get the tree shipped to your location. Some popular online retailers are:
- Rain Tree Nursery
- One Green World
You can check out forums and auctions from where you can purchase cuttings to graft your trees. Some of the ones that you can try out include:
- Fig bid
- Our figs
- Tropical fruit forum
Maintenance and taking care of the fruit trees are essential:
You must follow the below-mentioned guidelines for proper maintenance and care of your dwarf fruit trees:
- For in-containers cultivation, you will require a 15-gallon size for a proper harvest. Anything below it is not recommended.
- The soil you use can vary, but make sure that you use good quality organic matter like aged forest product/aged arbor fines, sphagnum peat poss, or coco coir.
- For drainage and aeration, you can depend on perlite, vermiculite, sand, or pumice. Try to follow the ratio of 3:1 or 2:1 (organic matter to aerating material).
- For in-ground cultivation, use the ultra dwarf tree and don’t forget to prune the truck to knee level to ensure a short and wide tree.
- The same type of fertilizers can be used for both in-container and in-ground cultivation. Make sure that these 13 essential nutrients are there:
- Nitrogen (N)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Potassium (K)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Sulfur (S)
- Boron (B)
- Chlorine (CI)
- Copper (Cu)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Zinc (Zn)
Harvesting the fruit from the trees planted
Two essential tips should be followed when you harvest the fruit from the trees planted:
Do not overwater the tree, especially when the fruits have started to appear. Too much water can make the fruits taste bland and watery. However, when you underwater the tree after the fruits have appeared, the flavours become concentrated, and there is an increase in the risk level.
Patience is the key. This might seem complicated, but there is no alternative. Once the fruit appears, you will be tempted to pluck it. You have to curb this temptation. Let the fruit ripen fully on the tree before you pick them. Yes, it is true that it will attract the pests and the critters, but it is worth it.
What fruits grow best in a greenhouse?
- Citrus (Oranges/Lemons/Limes/Grapefruit)
- Stone Fruit (Peaches/Nectarines/Plums/Apricots)
- Sugar Cane
- Cane-Fruit (Raspberries/Blackberries)
How do you keep a greenhouse warm in the winter?
- Opt for Fiberglass Insulation/Bubble wrap
- Since heat tends to rises, you need to elevate your container plants so that it reaches the top of the greenhouse
- To circulate the hot air, you can rely on a heater with a thermostat and a fan
- Inside the greenhouse don’t use strong lights, instead opt for Use incandescent light bulbs
- Place the greenhouse in a location with full sun
Popular Dwarf Fruit Trees In A Greenhouse
Check out carrie, cogshall, and ice cream varieties of mangoes. They are all “condo” mangos. They are excellent for in-container cultivation. The mango produced is reliably good quality.
You can expect carrie as an early season mango while cogshall ripens only in the month of June and July. Out of the three, the ice cream mango is the smallest as it grows only to a length of 6 feet tall, whereas cogshall and carrie grows as long as 10 feet tall and produces a huge quantity of mangoes. Each of them is juicy, sweet, and fibreless in nature.
When it comes to avocados, Wurtz is the best variety. It is a hybrid between the Guatemalan and Mexican varieties. The fruit produced is of excellent quality. The seeds are small, and the fruit has excellent flavor. With a smooth green skin and oil content of 16%, this variety of avocado plant produces 10-12oz fruit every year! Wurtz has a height of about 10 feet at maturity.
Papayas generally have incredible heights, but two varieties stay short – Red Lady & King George.
Red Lady grows to a height of 12 ft and is self-fertile, but it generally starts to grow fruit from the second year.
King George, on the other hand, is only 60% self-fertile, is about 10 ft tall, and the fruit starts to bloom when the tree is about six months of age and is about 2 to 3 ft tall.
Cherry of the rio grande
This cherry has a sweet-tart flavor initially. However, as it starts to mature, it tastes sweeter. Originally from Surinam and northern South America, this tree grows to a height of 6 to 8 ft and is container grown. This tree can sustain temperatures ranging from 28-29 degrees to a bit colder.
Essential Pointers To Remember
If you plan to use automated sprinklers to water the plants, you have to remove some soil tiles to fit the sprinkler. If you place it in the center, you will face difficulty in watering the plants. Keep in mind that it will be challenging to cover the square shape of a greenhouse with sprinkler watering
Fruit tree arrangement
You can grow fruit trees on any tile as long as the outer region of the greenhouse does not have any decorations. The tiles need to be adjacent to each tree, so there is enough space for the tree to grow and develop. You cannot plant fruit trees in the corners of the greenhouse. You can build as many as 18 fruit trees inside the greenhouse.
To sum up
When you follow the above-mentioned techniques and use your experience, growing dwarf fruit trees in a greenhouse is not difficult. Pay attention to the specific fruit tree that you want to cultivate. The needs and requirements of each fruit tree are different. You must be aware that mangoes are native to one region, and cherries are native to another. Hence, their need will be different.
When you keep the basics in mind, cultivating dwarf fruit trees in a greenhouse becomes easy and smooth. Don’t forget to water the plants at frequent intervals and use premium quality fertilizers to keep the pests at bay.