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Growing blueberries in containers

Apr 22, 2011 -
   
  Growing blueberries in containers
Blueberries for you!
 
   

Good news! It’s easy to grow blueberries in containers on your deck or patio.

That’s a boon for small-space gardeners—and it’s fun to have the berries to pick at the outdoor breakfast table even when you have a blueberry hedge elsewhere in your yard.

Blueberries are at the top of the health-boosting hit parade and they’re popular with all ages. And species! Your dog may “pick” the ripe berries if you don’t watch out.

VARIETIES THAT WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER IN CONTAINERS

Two blueberry varieties stay small and won’t need extensive pruning to thrive in your containers:

*  Northern Highbush ‘Top Hat’ grows best in cool climates (USDA zones 3-7)

*  Southern Highbush ‘Sunshine Blue’ is a surprise to many, as it does well in warm climates (USDA zones 5-10)

Blueberries have wide, shallow roots. Place a bare root or transplant in a 5 gallon container. After two years, shift up to a wider container, such as a half-barrel.

ACID SOIL IS A SNAP IN A CONTAINER

Is your soil alkaline? Growing acid-loving blueberries in containers, with an acid potting soil mix, is a simple solution to that problem.

In our new video Tricia creates a container soil mix of half organic potting soil and half Coco Peat (a sustainable alternative to peat moss). You can also use the prepared acid soil mixes sold for rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias.

Blueberries must have acid soil, pH 5.0 to 5.5. You should monitor the soil pH throughout the year with a pH test kit.

Use fertilizers that will gently increase soil acidity, such as Acid Mix, feather meal, or cottonseed meal. Add fertilizer in small amounts from early spring to late summer.

WATERING BLUEBERRIES IN CONTAINERS

Soil in containers dries out quickly. Blueberries want damp soil, so water regularly (increasing water during any heat waves) and add a thick layer of mulch, a few inches away from the stems of the bush.

KEEP THE BIRDS AWAY

When the berries first appear, wrap the bush in some unobtrusive black bird netting.

SITE AND LONG-TERM CARE

Blueberries need full sun, but if they’re on a patio or deck in a hot climate you should place them where they don’t get blasted with late afternoon sun.

‘Top Hat’ and ‘Sunshine Blue’ will thrive in containers for their lives. Every 3 to 4 years change out the soil and root prune the plants to keep them the right size for your containers.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE AMAZING BLUEBERRY

We have posts on growing blueberries in warm climates, FAQs on blueberry culture, how to prune blueberries, and our blueberry Growing Guide.

Reliable, research-based help comes in Growing Blueberries in the Sacramento Region by Chuck Ingels, Sacramento County Farm Advisor.

GROW BLUEBERRIES AND MORE  IN CONTAINERS

Don’t stop with the blueberries: grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables in containers. Two respected garden pros have all the tips for you, from which varieties do best, to which soil to use, in The Bountiful Container. This thick, illustrated handbook will help you turn any patio or deck into a cornucopia of edibles.


Solutions: Corrects High pH, Granulated, Powdered, or Meal

Categories: Berry Plants, Blueberry Bush, Soil Test, pH Soil Test, Growing Medium, Organic Potting Soil, Growing Medium Ingredients, Soil Amendments, Powdered Fertilizer, Animal & Bird Control, Bird Control, Growing Medium, Organic Potting Soil, Fruits & Berries, Container Gardening, Edible Landscaping, Organic Gardening 101, Urban Gardening & farming


irene garcia Says:
Aug 20th, 2011 at 3:19 am

I would like to buy two blueberry plants for containers from your company. What is the information regarding their purchase?

LARRY BAUGH Says:
Aug 23rd, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I really like your web-site. I am a quite Gardener and stay in the back ground when on the web. I have a question: do you have any advice for ‘white fly’? May herb garden is container style. I have had them(white fly) for two yrs. I discarded some plants and things improved yet they still cling on. I want to start a 1/2 barrel garden but not till I can eradicate the ‘WF’ or at least get them under control somehow. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. ...much appreciated…Larry

Chris Vance Says:
Sep 7th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

What about coffee grounds to boost the acidity of the soil?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 4th, 2011 at 11:32 am

Irene, Here’s the link to our blueberry section http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/berry-plants/blueberry-bush.html

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 4th, 2011 at 11:43 am

Larry, Does it make you feel better that UC Davis calls the whitefly “difficult”?

Here is the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management Pest Note on Whiteflies (their suggestions include both organic and non-organic methods) http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7401.html .

Depending on your location you may still have time to bring in beneficial insects. Here are our insects and products that are labeled to combat whiteflies http://www.groworganic.com/weed-pest-control.html?solution_pest=260.

Hope this is helpful!

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 4th, 2011 at 11:52 am

Chris, Surprisingly, coffee grounds are not reliably acidic. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott investigates gardening lore and recently wrote an article on using coffee grounds in which she said “[a] commonly held assumption states that coffee grounds are acidic, but this does not hold true experimentally.” When placed in the garden “the pH of decomposing coffee grounds is not stable”.

The link I have would not paste in here properly. If you search for Chalker-Scott and coffee grounds you will find it.

Sue Says:
Apr 20th, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Help!  I just received my two (2) Top Hat blueberry shrubs from a reliable vendor.  The How To materials were general instructions for planting blueberries and said I needed to plant ANOTHER VARIETY to ensure cross pollination…?  Is this true of all blueberries, including this new variety?  What do I do?  My soil and sun conditions are lousy, which is why I was doing containers in the first place.  I would really like berries.  Am I going to get any without planting a different, non-container variety of blueberry nearby?

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Apr 20th, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Sue, Most blueberries need to be planted near other blueberry varieties to be fruitful. Top Hat, however, is what is called “self-fruitful” and does not require another variety for pollination. If you do want to plant an additional container blueberry, try Southern Blue (USDA zone 5-10).

Carol Says:
Apr 9th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Would a 18” pot be sufficient size or what size would you suggest

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Apr 10th, 2013 at 11:01 am

Carol, Place a bare root or transplant in a 5 gallon container. After two years, shift up to a wider container, such as a half-barrel.

Kristin Says:
May 7th, 2013 at 4:46 am

I just got top hat blueberries and I am wondering if I put them I a container what indeed to do with them over winter I am in a zone 4/5. Thanks

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
May 8th, 2013 at 10:33 am

Kristin, Top Hat is hardy to zone 3, so even with the smaller amount of soil in a container, it should be fine without protection in your zone 4/5 climate. Enjoy!

Linda Deal Says:
Apr 5th, 2014 at 4:00 pm

A ‘friend’ on FaceBook shared this link. We are both intending to try container planting for blueberries this year. Just want to say what a great help you’ve been with the information you shared here. Thanks.

Kathryn D. Friesen Says:
Apr 9th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

We have been using a dilute version of tobacco juice mixed with dish soap for white fly & aphids and it is a natural way to kill these things.  Look for a recipe online as this is an old English gardener trick!

Shelly Says:
May 11th, 2014 at 8:10 am

I Live in Saskatchewan, Canada (zone 2 or maybe 3). Is there a variety I can grow in a container and do I need something for cross pollinating? Any special winter care?

Stephanie Brown Says:
May 12th, 2014 at 9:39 am

Hello Shelly,

All blueberries do well in containers. Some varieties hardy to zone 3 are: Patriot, Blueray, and Top Hat. Top Hat is a dwarf bush and only gets 1-2 feet tall. Cross pollination is not necessary to get fruit but you will get more fruit and larger berries with cross pollination. If you’re worried about the winter you might want to bring them into the garage, carport, shed ect. while they are dormant to give them a little protection from the cold. You can also put them on the south side, next to a wall so they get a little extra radiant heat.

wanda Says:
Jun 16th, 2014 at 10:56 am

I drink lots of hibiscus tea. Lots of used hibiscus flowers. will they make good mulch for blueberries-they are very acid

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