Plant enthusiasts tend to grow seasonal flowers, or ornamental plants, in the limited space available to them but one can also enjoy growing fruits and vegetables alongside flowers.
Selection of fruit species is dependent on an individual’s taste. However, thought must be given to the climatic conditions of that area and the fruit species growing successfully there.
The climate of India has been divided into 3 zones, according to temperature, snowfall, humidity and wind flow as shown in the table below
Although peach is a temperate fruit crop, a number of varieties like Sharbati, Prabhat,
Red sun, Shan-e-Punjab can be successfully grown in the northern plains of the subtropical region.
Dwarf varieties of fruits do well in containers. Seed grown plants take much longer to start with fruiting as compared to the grafted ones. One should try to contact the District Horticultural Officer or research centres like IARI or PUSA to select dwarf varieties of fruits like Amrapali of mango, KL-39 of guava and Pusa nanha, Honey dew varieties of papaya etc. A healthy, disease- free sapling should be selected.
Selection of Containers
The life of a fruit plant and the size of its canopy dictates its requirements of a container. Some species like Dasheri of mango will require more space for its roots than Amrapali. One can use 15” to 24” pots if keeping them on the terrace. Light weight material pots made of wood, fiber, plastic etc. should be used.
This is a very important factor in growing fruits in containers successfully. Since, limited space and quantity of media is available in pots, so agood potting mixture provides adequate minerals and moisture for satisfactory fruiting in terms of quality and quantity. The following potting mix may be used:
- Garden soil – 2 parts
- Cow dung manure – 1 part
- Vermicompost / leaf mould – 1 part
- Washed Coco peat- 1 part
- In addition to the above, one handful neem oil cake and bone meal can be added
Ensure placement of khanggar / brick blast at the bottom of the pot covering the drainage hole. After potting the sapling, it should be kept in shade for a week so as to stabilize it.
Care and upkeep:
Neem oil cake and bone meal can be applied once a month to provide phosphorous, calcium and other minerals. Mustard cake powder can be added to the potting mixture before the onset of buds during flowering season. Feeding should be done in the evening hours.
Try to place the pots at a location where proper air and sunlight is available. Proper support with bamboo and pipe should be provided if needed. During scorching summer months, provide proper shade. Watering should be done only when the top soil is dry.
Usually the dwarf varieties of fruit start flowering in the second or third year. Early flower initiation on plants should be avoided so that the plant can grow in strength before fruiting. Regulate the size of the canopy. De-weed, mulch and manure well before the appearance of flowers.
Here are a few acclimatized and successfully growing fruits in Delhi NCR.
Mango-Pusa Lalima, Pusa shreshtha, Amrapali, Dasheri & Malika
Papaya- Pusa Dwarf, Pusa Delicious and Pusa Nanna
Lemon- Kagzi Kalan
Guvava- Pusa Srajan
Grapes – Pusa Seedless, Navrang and Urvashi.
Pests and Diseases
Fruit plants are sensitive to attack from pest and diseases, so one has to keep close vigil over plants during the flowering and fruiting season. Organic pesticides can be used on a regular basis so as to prevent the onset of disease. Chemical pesticides and fungicides should be used as a last resort. Spraying these after the onset of buds should be avoided.
Equipped with this information you can successfully grow fruits in containers.