Tropical Fruit Trees For Containers

January 24, 2008


I apologize for all the questions. But I am so intrigued with all the unusual fruit that is out there. I had no idea most of them even existed. While I'm reading through the different varieties in several of the online nurseries, I've noticed that most of these plants grow very tall.

How are you growing these plants in containers? I'm looking at purchase some grafted plants of the following, but some appear to get very tall. Will I be able to keep them pruned, in containers,growing in my greenhouse, and still get fruits?

Anon, purple (Annona squamosa)

Carambola, grafted(Averrhoa carambola)

Cupuassu (Theobroma grandiflorum)

Durian (Durio zibethinus)

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

Lychee (Litchi chinensis)

Miracle Fruit (Synsephalum dulcificum)

Noni (Morinda citrifolia)

Peanut Butter Fruit (Bunchosia argentea)

White Cacao Theobroma bicolor

Thank you for any information you can provide.


Comments (29)

  • gliese

    I know that Miracle Fruit and Noni can fruit in a container, and I think Sugar Apple, Lychee, and Starfruit can be too. Not completely positive on any of this, though.
    I too would like to know if anyone has had any success with container grown Durian.

  • north_tree_man

    You can definitely get fruit from a lychee tree in a container ;) You (most likely) won't be able to get grafted lychee trees, only air-layers, and you'll need to aggressively prune when they get large.

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  • altadenamara

    You didn't mention an interest in mango trees. The new "condo mangos" are what I'm trying in my greenhouse. They can be pruned to stay 8-10 feet tall, and will be productive in pots. They can be moved outside when the weather warms up.

  • Eggo

    Anona squamosa = yes, grafted and seedlings
    Carambola = yes, if grafted
    Cupuassu = unlikely, maybe if grafted
    Durian = unlikely even if grafted
    jackfruit = grafted, yes but how large of a container? a wheel barrel size container yes. A 12 gallon container more like a no.
    Lychee = yes, airlayer.
    Miracle fruit = yes on all counts.
    Noni = yes
    Not sure about the other two.

    Other possible container plants are:
    guava, possible many of the Eugenia species too.
    container dragonfruit if you have the space
    mangos as mention

    Are you growing this for fun? Or in the hope of tasting some of these fruits. Some of these you may not really enjoy, noni for example tastes aweful and smells funky but suppose to have some great health benefits.

  • gcmastiffs

    Eggo is right about Nonis. They fruit well in containers as small as 5 gallon. But, the fruits are horribly ugly, favored by wasps, not bees or butterflys. They look like cancerous tumors, and the stench is not pleasant.

    The Noni plant itself is attractive and easy to grow, but the fruits are NASTY! I can't imagine ingesting them in any form other than highly processed juice or a powder.


  • ladylotus

    Thank you for the information. I am growing these things mainly for fun and if they fruit and I am able to enjoy the fruits all the better.

    Bummer that the Noni tastes wretched. I already placed my order for it. In reading the descriptions it says that the Noni has a very high content of vitamins and is very good for the health. That's the only reason I selected it. I hope it does not stink up my gh. If so, I guess I will remove the fruit before they get too big.

    Bummer that you think I can grow jakfruit in a large pot. I did not place an order as I thought I could not grow one of these beasts in a gh. I may have to consider placing another order. ha ha

    Again, thank you for all the information.

  • trakehner_26

    It is a bummer to find out that Noni is so nasty! I'm with Ladylotus on that one, as I too want to buy these weird fruits for their amazing health bens! Those superfruits are so heavily overpriced if bought in processed form. It has to be much healthier off the tree, plus no preservatives involved (they're not good for health).
    ~Karen, Ky

  • orchidguyftl

    And no one thinks Durian is nasty??
    Noni is a bit unpleasant fresh but you can at least tolerate it. Durian is so horribly gross and disgusting, I wouldnt plant one in my yard ever for the looks of the tree.
    Durian smells like rotting matter, mostly onions and road kill, so badly that i've never been able to get it near my mouth to taste. It stays with you too... The trees are tall and have never seen one fruiting in a pot.
    Jackfruit will in like a 20 gallon and can be pruned down. There are many varieties though, try to find a smaller fruiting type.

    Peanut Butter Fruit Its a type of Malpighiaceae so yeah, should be able to grow and fruit in a pot.

    White Cacao (Theobroma bicolor) yes in a larger pot

    My carambola flowers and fruits a few times per year in a 15 gallon pot

  • fruitguy

    I have a dwarf Carambola (Hart) I purchased from Excalibur. It is staying small and would do great in a pot.

  • boson

    Hi Tj,

    I would suggest that you check out the Eugenias. They are by nature smaller trees or bushes. Many of them grow well in pots and many are also monocious. Here are a few of them:

    E. candollena (rainforest plum)
    E. victoriana (guayabilla)
    E. luschnathiana (pitomba)
    E. neonitida
    E. stipitata

    Good luck!


  • stressbaby

    Second Tomas above.

    I have a Pitomba flowering right now in a 12" clay pot.


  • Gardener972

    Tell us more about that Pitomba tree. There are varying picture on Google image search... some looking like longan, others being an orange looking fruit. What does it REALLY look like and what does it taste like?

  • subtropix

    Orchidguy, before I knew anything about them, I purchased a large fresh Durian fruit from an Asian market. I had it in my Florida room for a couple of days then I began to smell that vile rotting onion/fishy stench. Still, I like to experiment with exotic foods (within reason). Then I cut in the gelatinous, creamy fresh and tasted it. What a disgusting combination of sweet, banana custard-like flavor mixed with a fishy, rotting onion taste and smell. Honestly, my first thought was how/why God would ever have created such a gross fruit! It was at least an experience. PS., I threw the seeds out and lost interest in ever even growing this tree.

    On a more positive note, I have good experiences with the following in containers:

    Citrus (any variety)
    GUAVA (I have the true/tropical guava and it regularly flowers and fruits.--It's also surprisingly cold tolerant as I have to overwinter some of the larger subtropical fruit trees in a cold garage.

    Others I like:

    Bananas (of course)
    Dwarf papaya
    Sugar cane

    oh, I almost forgot--try LOQUATS (super easy in containers)

  • nelson20vt

    Hmm how big do the tropical guavas get in containers? I am planning on growing some annona squamosa since I have hundreds of seeds. Anyone have anyluck with soursop in containers will they even fruit in containers?

  • brettay

    Why can you get fruit from an air-layered Lychee in a container, but not a grafted one.


  • jsvand5

    You can get fruit from either Brett. Where did you hear that you could not? Grafted plants are actually probably better suited for containers that air layers. Finding a grafted lychee is not the easiest thing to do though.

  • brettay

    Thanks. I misunderstood what was above. I thought people were saying you couldn't get fruit from grafted Lychee, however they were actually saying that it would be very difficult to find grafted plants for purchase.


  • trakehner_26

    I just bought a small Barbados Cherry (or West Indian Cherry, or Acerola) plant. Its doing well in the little pot it came in (its actually bent one way, and won't go up straight).

    *Now, when I want to put this plant in a container, how big a container (I know most likely more than 10 gallons) should I get?

    *Also, what the heck kind of planting soil should I put in this container? What does everyone else here plant their tropical plants in? I would assume some spaghnum moss and perlite most likely will go into it.

    *Anybody familiar with the smart pot, which gives the roots more air like a raised bed? Thank you all! ~Karen

  • abayomi

    Noni are wonderful fruit and smell delicious! (to me anyway)

  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    Citrus is a must.WHY? Because they will produce for even if you dont have the greatest indoor -outdoor situation. Builds confidence. You can actually pick a real Meyer lemon for dinner. Kumquats are tangy.
    Mango's can also be worth it,if you can provide enough winter light.They bare on small trees-that cant be said for many of those other exotics you named waaaaay up above in 08. fine in winter by a sunny window,and love your hot humid summers outdoors,and when they bare-10x sweeter than store bought. Like nectar of the gods.
    Papayas winterize if you make 100% sure you dont let them chill and stay wet..light isnt that big a deal indoors.they can defoliate and re grow in spring. Will bare in pots,look as ornamental as any plant in the world.
    Others-Cherimoya very possible,white Sapote possible if the container is at least 30 gallon.Guavas are great in pots. the so called Strawberry guava can stay out later in the year than all others,go back out sooner than all the others. Onlys needs mild temperate climates-figs too.

  • tasty


    I'm just wondering were are you ordering the the lychee from, maybe they ship to me in Winnipeg, mb ?

  • subtropix

    Surprised no one mentioned Mammea americana. The fruit is fruit is delicious (tastes like a very sweet, sweet potato, same color too), and you can propagate it from its enormous seed. Have not fruited it as yet in a container, but the tree is easy in a container--just looks nearly identical to a Southern Magnolia without the fuzz.

  • Rodrigo_A

    Hi everyone. Can anyone give me some advise on guava trees. I bought a ruby supreme and planeted it in a conatiner measuring 15" high and 18" in diameter. It's growing very well, but is the container too small?


  • Rodrigo_A

    I took this picture today, almost four months later.
    It's grown a lot, but will it bear fruit in a container this size?

  • tranxyz

    Your guava tree will flower next summer and bear some fruit for the first time .Your pot is ok for it to bear.My guava had 4 fruits the first time in a 7 gallons plastic pot after growing from seed in three years.

  • Rodrigo_A

    Thanks Tranxyz

  • Doglips

    Noni is nasty. I've tried fresh from the tree, ick.

    It just has a big big pyramid scams running behind it, errr, I mean a multi-level marketing scheme.

    Nothing that masses would enjoy in a non-diluted form.

  • wjp4140

    Hi. You can grow cocoa in a pot and get it to fruit. I was in Washington DC and the conservatory by the White House had a plant in a pot that had a pod on it. The plant was aprox 6' tall.

  • donzuke12

    TRy growing pepino indoors in a pot. supposedly it will grow good indoors in a pot.

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