Container Growing Blueberries
June 28, 2013
Fresh blueberries are both delicious and nutritious. Just as awesome on cereal as they are in things like pancakes, pie and muffins – they are high in fiber and anti-oxidants. These plants are surprisingly easy to grow if you give them the right conditions to thrive.
Blueberries are natives in a variety of climates where soils have really low pH. A lot of people try growing them in the backyard garden without understanding what went wrong when it was most likely that their soil was just too sweet or had poor drainage. Rather than trying to amend the soil, it’s a lot easier to grow them in containers. Not only are blueberry bushes compact, their root systems are shallow and they do very well grown in containers and grow bags.
While blueberries are self-pollinating, you don’t need to grow a bunch of bushes to get fruit. However, having 2 or more will allow cross pollination that does increase both fruit size and harvest yields. For best results, monitor the pH of your medium and amend with acid fertilizer to keep them in 4.5-5.0 at all times. The videos below give some good guidelines on when it is best to amend your potting soil and ground soil too.
There are different types of blueberry plants, notably highbush and southern types. Be sure you are buying plants that will thrive in your climate. If it freezes where you live, overwintering the containers submerged in the ground is a must. In the north and high elevations you can wrap the shrub in burlap to prevent winter damage and enjoy fruit every year pretty reliably. Late frosts can kill the blooms that give you berries though, so watch the weather and protect them from cold nights if the weather turns… just like you would early planted veggies and annual flowers.
Water only when dry. Be sure to mix the potting medium using proven methods for good drainage and give them 6-8 hours of sun a day. The bigger the root system of the bush you plant, the faster you’ll be enjoying fresh fruit. You can buy blueberries dormant in a bare root form cheaper than larger, more developed ones in containers at garden centers and plant nurseries. You should get fruit the first year with the container grown selections. It will be 2 years before your first harvest with bare root starters.
For those that have a greenhouse, here’s some interesting information on winter forcing a crop of yummy berries from studies conducted by Colorado State University: Click Here
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