Blueberries are a perfect berry choice for growing in containers. The bushes are compact, the roots are shallow and the production is abundant under the right growing conditions. Container blueberry bushes can be grown outdoors or indoors in minimal space and will put on quite a colorful show from spring through fall.
Blueberries are very easy to grow and the bushes require almost no maintenance. Use these tips for selecting the right containers, the right location, and the right bushes so you can enjoy the sweet flavor of homegrown blueberries next spring.
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Select a container that is at least two feet wide and 20 inches or deeper. Black containers heat soil quicker than light-colored containers and will dry the soil out quicker, so keep that in mind when selecting growing containers.
Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of containers so excess water can run through.
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Place a coffee filter in the bottom of the containers to prevent planting soil from leaching out along with the excess water.
Fill containers with a good quality acidic potting soil mix that contains peat moss and compost. The peat moss and compost provide water retention and food for the blueberry bush, and both potting soil ingredients help keep the soil from compacting in the container as well.
Blueberry bushes thrive in acidic soil, so be sure to choose an acidic potting soil mix.
Select a sunny location for containers that has enough room for at least two containers. You will need at least two blueberry bushes for pollination and an abundant harvest. A full sun location is best but bushes will produce well when grown in a location that receives 6 hours of sun.
Blueberry Bush Selection
Select plants that have different fruiting times so you can maximize the length of the harvest season. Also, select plants that are hardy in your particular growing zone so they can survive the winter weather or be prepared to bring containers indoors for the winter.
Purchase blueberry bushes that are 2-3 years old if you want a harvest of blueberries this year. Look for medium-sized bushes with healthy foliage and branches. With proper care, your blueberry bush will produce a crop of blueberries in four to five months. For summer harvest of blueberries, purchase and plant your blueberry bush in late winter.
How To Plant Blueberries
Plant blueberry bush a prepared container at the same depth the bush was in the original container. Position each bush so the top of the root ball will be a one-half inch above soil level when planted. The roots of a blueberry bush are very shallow because they must have air to survive and if they are planted too deeply the bush will die because the roots have been smothered.
Center the planting hole in the container, plant the blueberry bush and gently press down the potting soil to ensure that all of the roots are in contact with the potting soil.
Water thoroughly at planting time and never allow the soil to completely dry out. Feed bushes with water-soluble plant food that is formulated for acid-loving plants once a month during the growing season.
Place a 2-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture and keep the soil cool. Pine straw is an ideal mulch because it increases the soil acidity which makes the bush happy. Compost is also a good choice for use as mulch. Don’t press mulch down so it won’t impede airflow to the bushes roots. Add fresh mulch once a year in the spring.
Harvest and Birds
Blueberries can be harvested anytime after they turn blue but you have to get to them before the birds do if the containers are located outdoors.
Birds love blueberries and will wait patiently until the berries ripen, then they will pick the bush clean. Use a windsock and pinwheels (or anything else that blows in the wind) near the containers to help keep birds away.
Blueberry bushes will produce in approximately 4 months after planting and harvest season will last about 3 weeks. Remember to plant different varieties with different harvest times to extend the amount of time you can enjoy fresh blueberries.
Outstanding Color Display
Blueberry bushes produce tiny white or pink flowers in early spring, followed by the emergence of blue-green leaves. The berries follow the leaves and because the berries don’t ripen all at once, the bushes will have berries in various stages of ripeness that range in color from green, pink and blue throughout the summer.
The fall foliage is spectacular too, with leaves turning brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow in late fall that will eventually drop off to reveal red stems all winter.
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