Trees in pots provide shade for a patio, deck or balcony where planting them in the ground isn't practical. Many trees can be potted, providing the pot is big enough, but trees that grow less than 15 feet tall are best.
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Choose a sturdy, ceramic or metal container large enough for the tree's mature root system and proportional to its mature height. Nursery staff can help you decide what container is best for which kind of tree. Avoid containers with narrow necks. Plastic and terracotta pots won't be weather-resistant or strong enough for a shade tree.
Set the pot atop strong plant feet or bricks to aid drainage. Use potting soil, not garden soil. Trees don't need much fertiliser, so mixing a slow-release pelleted fertiliser with the potting soil at planting time works well. Give new trees 5 gallons of water a week.
Small trees that provide shade include upright Japanese maples, fringe tree, witch hazel, camellia, Amur maple, paperbark maple, crabapples, flowering pears such as Capital and Chanticleer, flowering cherries such as the Akebono and Kwanzan, and flowering plums such as Princess Kay.
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- Colorado State University Extension: Small Deciduous Trees; J.E. Klett, C. Wilson, May 12, 2010
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Trees for Problem Landscape Sites: Trees for Landscape Containers and Planters; Bonnie Appleton, Reed Jeavons, Roger Harris, Kathy Sevebeck, Dawn Alleman; Lynnette Swanson, May 1, 2009