Edible Underplantings for Potted Fruit Trees/Bushes/Vines

lawanddisorder(6)June 8, 2013

I have about 25 potted fruit trees/bushes/vines and was wondering if you guys thought it would be wise, and not harmful to the plants, to underplant taller fruit trees/vines/bushes with herbs or other low lying plants?
I'd be underplanting apples, peaches, pears, necarines, plums, figs, grapes, kiwi vines, apricots, mullberry, and maybe a few berry bushes, too.
My first thought was strawberries, but that would attract even more squirrels which are already very problematic.

Does anyone know of any specific plants, preferably herbs or something edible, that would work well as an underplanting for my fruit plants? I don't really care if the conditions aren't perfect for the underplantings, but I do care very much that the fruit plants won't be overstressed by competing for nutrients, root space, etc.

I am training the fruit trees into espalier form, so the underplantings should receive sufficient sun light.

Maybe having two competing plants in one pot is a bad idea all together?

What do you all think?

Thanks!

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wbonesteel(7)

Shouldn't be a problem, as long as you keep an eye on the nutrients.

Prostrate rosemary, chocolate mint - almost any low growing or spreading herb or vegetable should work, really. Just make sure that you don't plant an acid loving tree or bush with an alkaline loving herb, fruit or veggie, and you should be good to go. Other than that, it's just a matter of what you like and how much you like it.

In our garden, we've planted mint, asparagus, herbs and strawberries under our mulched and open/vase shaped fruit trees. So far, they all seem to get along and like it very much.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 12:37PM
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sojournertam(7)

I read about planting mints under apple trees in a companion planting rag once and both my apple tree and mint did very well last year. I don't know if it is because they were great companions or just because they had good soil, etc.
but I'd check in a companion planting book and see what is supposed to be most beneficial cross referenced to what you like of course.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:34AM
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edlincoln(6A)

What about peas and beans? They fix nitrogen and nourish the soil.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 7:49PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Understory plantings will compete with potted trees, but they may still be desirable for a number of reasons, including:

aesthetics
weed suppression
nitrogen fixation
multiple yields, rather than single yield
attract beneficial insects

Mint aggressively commandeers water supply and can quickly take over a pot, so would not be my first choice.

I have purslane growing under moringa and have to cut back the purslane regularly, or the moringa starts to show stress.

I've grown malabar spinach as a vine up small trees with no problems.

Chives, strawberries, clover, oregano would be my first choices.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 4:11AM
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