I've successfully grow an apple tree 'Ana' on my 4th floor for three years
It enjoys living in an 'Arbol' grow bag hanging on my window cell. Amongst other fruit trees apples and pears can be pruned and be well shaped, as you wish. They blossom; bear fruit soak up pollution, and provide us with privacy. They can support pollinators and birds, and most importantly bring us close to nature: you can feel nature is sitting on your laps.
Apple trees need depth for their root system to thrive. Some varieties can be grown in large pots, but that was not an option for me. I've got a window cell, no rooftop, or opened spacious balcony but a window cell, and I made absolutely the most of it. After all when you think about a balcony, apple trees are not the obvious choice. Well they weren't until now.
Originally quite a few years ago I decided to design for my own use a big and deep pot, for growing roses
They need depth good drainage, sunshine and loads of feed. The pot needed to be safe to hang. I made from UVB resistant fabric a grow bag that could provide all those needs in one. After planting roses was a success, I thought to test this new idea to the extremes. I would plant an apple tree! Apple trees are part of the Rosa family, and both the rose and the apples hold special importance to human civilization, and both are fascinating symbols, and have deep meaning.
In my area in Central Israel, living fairly close range to the Mediterranean Sea the only variety flowers well is 'Ana'. I happily picked up a healthy tree at the local nursery and planted it in the pot I named 'Arbol'.
The reason I designed an update of a grow bag is 'air pruning'
Air pruning is a method, which helps the plant to develop its root system on a similar way as in nature it would. On the sides the pot lets air through. Growing roots sense the air freely flowing and stop growing to that direction. On a way the plant can get the right map of its earth pocket, and develop its root on the inside of the pot.
Usually plants get pot bound and suffer, because the roots continue to find the way 'out' circling around on the side and bottom of the pot, while the inside is almost unexplored by the roots. Healthy and strong roots result in strong beautiful plants. There are more benefits of this method. When the weather is very hot water can evaporate from the whole surface of the planter, cooling the inside. On a similar way as we sweat. The pot breathes and supports the tree, not just holds some dirt and water.
I regularly feed my garden, because it's grown in pots, 'holdalls' as I call them
I compost in them, and use organic and natural liquid feed. For composting I create a rabbit hole. I put a perforated plastic bottle upside down in the pot at planting, and from a slightly wider bottle I create a lid. Regularly these holes are filled with organic materials from the garden, and some of my kitchen waste is composted as well. I hide the lids with cones, which also improve the soil. This way I reuse some of my waste, and make bottles fit the task with simple tools any home would have.
At planting I immediately started to shape the plant as an espalier. I needed a shape fits a widow cell, and the size of the tree needs to be controlled. I removed the leader, and shaped two branches and enjoyed the few blossoms. As advised I removed all the flowers after blossoming, so my little tree would focus on settling in, and not producing fruit. The plant loved its pot, and grew rapidly. I created five branches, and let a new leader to emerge until the end of the season. Unfortunately we had to move two times and I was worried it affected my apple on a bad way. I waited 4 month till the tree woke up.
The tree started to blossom, and reached a peak in 6 weeks
The blossoms have delicate perfume, change color from deep pink to white, and so beautiful to see all that from up close. Bees and other pollinators enjoy the feast. After the wonderful blossoms quite a few small apples appeared, but the tree was starting a second wave of blossoms all over on its branches.
I love the fact that I made possible to grow a healthy tree on the 4th floor, and amusing to think that this tree might be a good friend of mine for the rest of my life. Pollinators love it, hopefully it will bear fruits and the family and neighborhood birds will enjoy them. Most fruit trees can be grown as espaliers, and most fruit trees are beautiful when blossoming. They support wild life and being organic we can really help pollinators to get healthy food and survive. All that joy is now on my window cell. All needed is the right equipment and passion to make it happen.