Growing Tropical Fruit Trees in Containers

If you love tropical fruits but don’t have a lot of space in your garden, you might be wondering if you can grow them in containers. The answer is yes, you can! There are many tropical fruit trees that can thrive in pots and produce delicious fruits for you to enjoy. In this blog post, we will share some of the best tropical fruit trees that can be grown in containers in NZ.

If you’re in a hurry, our top tips are to choose dwarf rootstocks wherever possible, and move your containers around as the seasons change.

Tropical Guava

Tropical guava

This is one of the easiest tropical fruit trees to grow in a container. Guavas grow rapidly and fruit quickly. They can tolerate a range of soil types and climates, as long as they are protected from frost. Guavas have fragrant white flowers and sweet, juicy fruits that can be eaten fresh or made into jams, juices, or desserts. You can choose from different varieties of guava, such as yellow, red, or pink fleshed ones. Guavas need regular watering and feeding, and pruning to keep them compact and productive.


Citrus in general tends to do pretty well in containers. Getting dwarfing rootstocks will help. Citrus likes to somewhat dry out in between watering and tend to be heavy feeders. Meyer lemons are a popular choice for container gardening because they are more cold tolerant than other lemons and produce abundant crops of thin-skinned, sweet-tart fruits. They’re also very ornamental, with glossy green leaves and fragrant white flowers. They need a sunny spot and a well-drained potting mix. You can fertilise them with citrus food every month during spring and summer, and water them regularly but not excessively.


OK, it’s not technically tropical, but olive trees are an excellent choice for your container garden. They’re evergreen and have silvery-green leaves that add a Mediterranean touch to your garden. They also produce small white flowers and edible fruits that can be cured and eaten or pressed for oil. Olive trees need well-drained soil and moderate watering.


Starfruit, also known as carambola, thrives best in moist, hot environments. The entire lantern-shaped fruit can be eaten like an apple, and when cut across the middle, its perfect star shape makes a beautiful accent to fruit platters. Starfruit trees are attractive and easy to grow in containers. They have glossy green leaves and pink or purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies. They need a sunny location and a rich, moist potting mix. You can feed them with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, and water them regularly but not too much.

Dwarf papaya

Papayas are tropical fruits that have a sweet, melon-like flavor and are rich in vitamin C. They grow on tall plants that look like palm trees but are actually herbaceous. Dwarf papaya varieties like Red Lady are ideal for container gardening because they only grow up to 2 meters tall and produce fruits within a year of planting. Dwarf papayas need a warm, sunny spot and a large pot with good drainage. They also need regular watering and feeding with a high-potassium fertiliser every month during the fruiting season.


This is another tropical fruit tree that can be grown in containers. Soursop has a shallow root system so is less likely to become rootbound in a large pot. It has a spiky green skin and a creamy white pulp that tastes like a combination of pineapple and strawberry. Soursop is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, and has many health benefits. They need at least 6 hours of direct sun exposure per day, so choose a sunny location for your container. You can also move the pot indoors during winter if the temperature drops below 5°C.

These are some good starting suggestions for tropical fruit trees that can be grown in containers in New Zealand. Of course, there are many more options to explore, such as dwarf bananas, pineapples, figs, loquats etc. You can find more information about growing tropical fruits in New Zealand from the Tropical Fruit Growers of New Zealand. Happy gardening!






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