Can you put fruit trees in a large planter box

Can you put fruit trees in a large planter box? I have had a 20×20 planter for a few years now and need to re-do the soil which I am not sure how to do.

Are there any issues with fruit trees and a planter box? I am thinking of having three cherry trees with blackberry next to it as well as grape vines and some bushes. Do they need a lot of space and could I be in a large planter box for all the space they need?

Thanks in advance


Cate Dibbens

April 4, 2017 10:18

I can tell you that in hot climates, not many things like grapes and cherry trees like it, but it's possible to grow a grape vine in a planter box, so far as I know. The tree itself will need a lot of space. I would recommend a tree about twice the height of the planter box.

You might want to check with your local Extension Office to make sure it's safe to grow a vine in your area and what you can expect from it.



April 4, 2017 13:53

Cate, I had a question in regards to this: does the soil stay mixed up in a large planter box or does it settle to the bottom?

Cate Dibbens

April 5, 2017 08:48

Good question Bree. The soil mixture would settle more than if it were spread out in a larger space, but I wouldn't let that be a concern because it's very common for planters to have a hole in the bottom. We don't have a soil mixture, but I suspect you can use the same as for a raised bed. The key is to be sure to put down a layer of something to keep the soil from sliding.

I can't speak from experience as I've never owned one, but I am guessing it would depend on how far apart the holes are and if the soil mixture is a good fit for that area.


April 5, 2017 15:30

Hi Cate, just to clarify I have a planter box in a small area of my front lawn. This was put there 2 years ago and I have been meaning to get rid of the vine (or grape vines) I planted. When I go to get rid of it, my husband and I are both curious if I can use the soil from the area and use it for a raised bed planter box or should we just start over. Thank you for the reply!

Cate Dibbens

April 5, 2017 16:24

Bree, I'm glad you decided to check this one out because you have the right info. I don't think soil mixture is needed in a planter box, but I would have a look at the hole in the bottom. If it's like a square inch then you may have trouble with drainage. If it's not in a raised bed (you just want a little planting area), then I wouldn't use that soil from the bottom of a raised bed and just start over. Hope this helps.


April 6, 2017 16:07

Cate, thank you for your response! I appreciate it!


May 16, 2017 13:56

Hi Cate, I'm so thrilled to find your post as my yard just got out of a 2 year freeze. But, I've been looking to fill in two beds with planter boxes or whatever I can find. I don't have too much room, so I was looking for ideas. I'm going to be doing some type of container garden. They say a small area is great, but I need to buy 2 or 3 boxes. Can you help me in choosing what to get? Also, do you know where I can buy the boxes?

Cate Dibbens

May 16, 2017 17:15

Hi Julia, I think you should be able to find what you need from any plant nursery. Good luck!

I'm not sure if you are wanting to fill in the boxes with soil that was removed from a raised bed or not? That will obviously change what you're planting. If not, I would stick to a local nursery to be sure to get what you need, but not sure if they have more than one kind of box you could get, or if any of them would work well.

Cate Dibbens

May 16, 2017 17:20

You would not want to use that soil from the bottom of a raised bed. That soil is not in any way, shape, or form nutrient enriched, nor will it have any chance of being in those boxes. You might want to look at something like soil conditioner to give it some structure and nutrients to get it back to growing soil. I'm going to be trying to get some raised beds up and running with new soil soon. I'm planning on composting coffee grounds as a source of nutrients.

You can definitely use it to fill your boxes with. I would not put any soil rich in nutrients into those boxes. Soil enriched in nutrients can change over time and it will not be the same for long. In the short term it might do ok, but in the long run, it can end up not being exactly the same as the rest of your beds.

You can get plastic raised beds. You can get them at any garden center that sells houseplants. If you're going to be making lots of these, look for a manufacturer that makes both the plastic and the soil. Some will come with the soil already added and others have soil already in the box.

Some people have a large compost pile for that. They can be big enough to fill one of the big black bags available at any hardware store. You just add some leaves, grass clippings, or even newspaper as your mulch and start cooking them up.

May 16, 2017 18:33

Thank you for your post,I've read it and understood the points you made. And this will help me to start the process.I have a question: Do you think the soil in these raised beds can support a tree? Or do you think it's better to build a raised bed over the hole?

You can do it either way. It will depend on the tree you plan to grow. Some will benefit from the moisture from the water table of the soil, but if you plan on growing on that area you will probably want to create a raised bed over the hole.

A tree or shrub will do well on top of or alongside a

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