Tracey Cole

Tracey Cole

Growing trees in containers

Even if you only have a balcony, a courtyard or small garden you can still grow a tree in a container. Used as a focal point, they can provide shade and screening. They also help to minimise boundary walls.

The container needs to be large enough to accommodate the root system, and have drainage holes. Ceramic and terracotta pots are ideal as they won’t blow over. Always check the weight if you are planting a container on a balcony! Ensure the container is in the right spot before planting anything. Use a good compost, and, to retain moisture, cover the top of the soil with gravel.


Gardenia Thunbergia

The indigenous Gardenia Thunbergia ( Wild Gardenia), has heavily scented large white flowers that bloom from October to March, with light green leaves. Decorative grey/green egg-shaped fruits follow when the flowers fade. A slow growing tree that will grow to a height of 3-4m, and can be pruned if needed. Also, it’s happy in sun or shade.
Elephant bush - Latin name - Portulacaria afra


Portulacaria afra (Spekboom), also indigenous, is a succulent with dense branches of small, waxy, light green leaves, contrasting beautifully with the reddish-brown branches. Late Winter to Spring small pink flowers appear until Spring . Being evergreen, water-wise and easy to grow makes it ideal for growing as a container tree. It is also known to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It will reach a height of 1.5- 2m.

Diospyros Whyteana (Bladder Nut)

To attract wildlife, try a Diospyros Whyteana (Bladder Nut), an indigenous, ornamental tree with dark green leaves. It is drought-tolerant, thrives in a shady position and grows to 3 – 4m tall. Birds and insects are attracted to the sweet-scented white flowers from August to November, which are followed by a fruit, similar to the Cape Gooseberry.

Keep the compost moist, but not wet, and add fertiliser in the growing season. If you need any assistance with growing trees in containers, feel free to contact us.

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

Landscaping and garden designs in Cape Town and surrounds…..

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