Containerized Trees: Small Spaced Landscaping / Big Effects

Part Two: The Right Tree in the Right Place with the Right Care

By Elizabeth Cornell Fake, Fairfax Master Gardener
Part One of this two-part series gave an overview of the importance of site and choice of container for planting a containerized tree. Part Two continues the discussion with pointers on tree selection, tips on planting and guidelines for maintenance.

Tree Selection
Think of a containerized tree the same way you would when adding a tree to your landscape. The same requirements for sunlight exposure and moisture apply. If you can plant it outside, then you should be able to grow it in a container. The chart below identifies some hardy candidates for a containerized tree.

Type Options Special Considerations
Citrus Lemon,Lime, Kumquat, Orange and Tangerine Frost tender. In winter, move inside or to greenhouse
Fig Edible Fig (Ficus carica) Requires consistent Zone 7 climate for outside growth
Plan to move inside for winter
(Acer palmatum)
Spectacular fall foliage
Requires large container for root development
Locate in area with both full sun and shade
Olive European Olive (Olea europaea)
Choose fruitless variety
to avoid oily fruit cleanup
Requires consistent Zone 7 climate for outside growth
Plan to move inside for winter
Prune regularly to limit height
Privet Good selection for topiary treatment
(Ligustrum spp.)
Grows prolifically and can be invasive
Prune regularly
Good choice for balcony tree.
(Magnolia grandiflora)
Requires very large container and sufficient
vertical space (10 feet) to grow
Requires consistent Zone 7 climate
Sweet Bay Produces culinary bay leaves
(Laurus nobilis)
Requires full sun to partial shade
Bring indoors in winter
Witch Hazel Dependable late winter/early spring
flowering tree (Hamamelis spp)
Grows well outside in Virginia year-round
with full sun to part shade
Prune regularly to maintain height