The word “best” is highly subjective. People have differing tastes in food, music, clothing, as well as flowers and trees.
To begin finding the perfect container tree, research the type you desire. Do you want a tree that flowers? Do you want one that produces fruit? Or perhaps an evergreen that looks similar all year? It can be a daunting task to find one that suits your needs for container planting but many different types are available.
My first advice is to ask a plant nursery worker what type of container tree would be best for you and go by your favorites after learning what types will do well in your area.
Banana Tree/Banana Plant
Banana plants are fun to plant and watch grow. Last year, we began growing these. Because a banana type is susceptible to cold, it is important to plant it in direct sunlight. Bright sunlight for twelve hours a day is needed for most varieties. Until it reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit here, our bananas stay inside in storage. Some bananas produce edible fruit that is nutritious and good for you. A half whisky pot or pot in that similar size range is ideal for a banana plant such as the Dwarf Cavendish Banana. Dwarf Cavendish Banana Plants can grow to be ten feet tall, have leaves 18″ wide, and 5″ long. A pot of no less than 24″ is needed for this type of plant. Truly Tiny bananas is a tree type only one foot tall and easily moved from outside to inside during cooler weather. Banana plants need to be protected during the winter. We bring our plants inside at the first sign of the season change. Choose a container with wheels for trees difficult to transfer inside during weather changes.
Kumquat trees are another that requires full sunlight. Water the Kumquats you grow in containers at least one time each day. Container grown trees need water more often than those planted in the ground. Kumquats do not necessarily have to be returned indoors during cold weather. A covering of a simple household blanket may suffice in protecting the kumquat. Also, a light can be placed underneath the blanket to raise the temperature. The kumquat will grow to fit its container. The Kumquat also provides wonderful, edible fruit.
Kei Apple Fruit Tree
The Kei Apple Fruit Tree can grow to be 20 feet high with a spread of around 8-10 feet wide in nature. In containers, the size is much smaller. The Kei Apple has both the male and female portions on the same tree. The Kei Apple blooms during the late winter and early summer. Yellow-greenish flowers give way to a small edible fruit tasting similar to an apricot. To get to the point of growing edible fruit, the kei apple tree needs to grow to be quite large. The amount of fruit produced is proportional to the tree’s size. When the tops of these trees, or any of the tropical variety, grow too large it is important to prune them back heavily to rejuvenate them. As with the other temperature sensitive trees ,when it is moved inside to protect it from cold weather it is important to prevent it from being exposed to heating vents and drafts.
Mimosa or Silk Tree
Mimosas are one of my favorite trees. My grandmother had one in her yard when I was a little girl and we would try climbing it but we always punished out of fear we would fall down. Because mimosas are somewhat common in my area of Arkansas, I am debating planting one in a container this season or next. These trees are also known as powder puff or silk trees. Severe winters can kill mimosas to the ground but usually they will sprout with new roots. If a mimosa is grown outdoors in a container, it does not necessarily have to be returned indoors during cold weather as it depends on the zone in which you live. The example of covering it with a blanket and heat light would suffice for an immediate threat but if your winters are particularly difficult, it is best to take the Mimosa Tree indoors. Because container type trees have roots more exposed, it is always a wise bet to take the safest course of action.
Crape Myrtle trees are beautiful and are considered to be the pride of South. Crape Myrtles can be grown outside for those in Zone 6 and higher. People who live north of Zone 6 can grow crape myrtles in containers. The smallest crape myrtles will grow to be 2-3 feet tall. Container crape myrtles need consistent watering and regular fertilizer. When the weather grows cooler you will need to bring your crape myrtle indoors where it will not need to be fertilized but will need water every few weeks. Though it will soon look as though the tree has died, it has actually gone into dormancy. Because container crape myrtles do not have the warm earth to help them stay insulated, a few nights of cold weather will kill this type of tree.