Blueberry Container Garden
I love blueberries in all shapes and forms—ice cream, muffins, jams, jellies and freshly picked off the bush! I also think they are a beautiful shrub for the garden with three seasons of interest.
If you have a small garden or even just a patio or deck you don't have to miss out of the goodness of homegrown blueberries. Dwarf varieties are easy to grow in containers. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Choosing Blueberry Varieties for Containers
When selecting blueberry varieties four things to consider are chilling time, mature size, cold tolerance and pollination. Blueberries require a certain amount of cold weather to produce fruits. Some need less cold than others so pick a variety that is suitable for your climate. For the best results choose a self-pollinating variety that stays compact and is cold tolerant one hardiness zone below your own. If you can't find a self-pollinating blueberry, you'll need to pot up more than one variety.
Best Soil for Blueberries
Blueberries thrive in acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.0. For your container mix two-thirds potting soil with one-third part compost or ground pine-bark mulch. The pine bark will help improve the soil drainage, which is also very important for blueberries.
Container Size for Blueberries
Blueberries appreciate generous living quarters. Start your plant in an 18-inch pot. In two or three years re-pot in a 24-inch pot. Make sure the container has drainage holes. Standing water is the kiss of death for blueberries.
Watering Blueberries in Containers
Blueberries need consistent water, but they also don't like wet feet. Give your shrub 1 to 2 inches of water each week. Check the soil frequently during dry weather. A layer of mulch will help keep the roots cool and moist.
Good Varieties for Containers
- Sunshine Blue - Warm climates, zones 5-10, 3-feet-tall
- Northsky - Cold climates, zones 3-7, 18-inches-tall x 3-feet-wide
- Top Hat - Cold climates, zones 4-7, self pollinating, 2-feet-tall
- Patriot - Cold climates, zones 3-7, 3- to 5-feet-tall
Planting Blueberries in Containers
- Place the container in its permanent home before you start. It will be heavy once planted. Blueberries need plenty of sun so place it in an area that receives six hours of sunlight. Place in partial shade in hot climates.
- Fill the container about two-thirds full of soil.
- Remove the blueberry shrub from its container. Gently loosen the roots and place the shrub on top of the soil. The crown of the plant should sit about 3 inches below the lip of the pot.
- Fill in with soil just to the crown. Blueberry roots are shallow so you don't want to plant the shrub deeper than it was in the nursery pot.
- Water well and fill in resulting air pockets with more soil.
- Add a 2-inch layer of pine straw or pine-bark mulch.