Many varieties of dwarf fruit trees grow well in containers, allowing small-space gardeners the opportunity to grow figs, peaches, and apples in locations where they thought it would be impossible. Although these trees don’t produce as many fruits as regular-size fruit trees, you can’t beat getting fresh fruit from your container trees in summer. However, dwarf fruit trees will need some special care in winter, depending on where you live.
In warm-winter climates where temperatures rarely go below 20 degrees F, you can leave your large-container fruit trees outdoors in a protected location. Place them where they will be sheltered from winter winds and rains, such as in a carport or under roof eaves. Keep the soil barely moist and let the trees naturally drop their leaves and go dormant. If the tree is in a small container (1 to 2 gallons), consider protecting it from any freezing temperatures by placing it in an unheated garage or shed.
In a cold climate where freezing temperatures are the norm, you’ll have to be more creative about protecting your containerized trees. Generally, you shouldn’t let container fruits trees be exposed to temperatures below 20 degrees F. Colder temperatures will kill the roots of even large-container trees. Trees in small containers should be protected from temperatures below freezing.
Place fruit trees indoors in winter in these cold locations. Once all the leaves have dropped, but before cold weather sets in, move your containerized trees to an unheated basement or garage. If you live in a very cold area with temperatures below zero in winter, consider protecting your trees in the unheated garage by placing straw bales around them or wrapping them in insulation. Place a thermometer near the trees to monitor the cold, and make sure the temperature stays warm enough for them to survive. Another option is to bury the containers in soil or bark mulch and wrap the tops of the trees in burlap to help them survive the winter in a protected spot.