How to Grow Blueberries in Pots

Young blueberry plants are quite forgiving as well, they will grow well in a container for many years. Their growth characteristic is shrub like and they have a smaller space requirement for their roots.

They are definitely not like a raspberry plant and will not spread roots and underground runners far and wide in the same way.

Selecting a Plant

It’s important to choose a variety of blueberry which is bred to your climate zone and region of the continent. Your chances of success increase greatly right from the beginning if you do that. They do best in zones 3 – 8. 

If your area has long cold winters you can still grow blueberries in containers but you’ll need to give them significant winter protection once the weather turns.

Container plants don’t have the same amount of soil insulation as the in-ground plants do. Protecting the roots from severe freezing is needed for them to survive the winter. A greenhouse of just about any sort will do or bringing the plant in to the garage for the winter works well.

Making use of a greenhouse in just about any design will help a lot, so if you have space then build or buy one such as this.

I recommend choosing two different varieties of blueberry. This is required for cross-pollination which helps each plant to produce a larger harvest.

Look for these characteristics when buying a young blueberry:

  • Choose a plant with a few strong thick branches rather than several thin branches
  • New sprouts should be visible if you are shopping in the spring
  • Look for signs of damage such as broken branches or missing bark
  • Avoid ones that have any major damage or look generally weak

I recommend buying the largest plant you can afford. You’ll get a larger more solidly established plant that will thrive sooner. I suggest buying a plant that is 2 – 3 years old or even older if possible.


In this case, spending a bit more money is definitely better. You’ll see a larger harvest sooner and your plant will survive and thrive much more quickly than a cheaper tiny sprout of a plant.

It’s also not a problem if you find a good plant with strong features but it’s growing crooked in the pot. All you need to do when you get home is plant it on a slant so the top of the plant becomes vertical.

 The roots won’t know the difference and your plant will look tall and straight.

Pink Lemonade BlueberriesTypes of Blueberries





Planting

On planting day, carefully remove it from the pot you purchased it in.

You’ll see a fine network of tiny roots that are most likely going to be exactly the same size and shape as the pot. You’ll need to pull off the bottom most fine roots, but only about 1/4″. Also, massage the root ball just a little to loosen it if it’s tight. 

Doing this will let the plant know that it’s no longer in a container and will stimulate new root growth. 

However, too much disturbance or rough handling of the roots will likely kill the plant no matter what size it is. Blueberry plants are much more delicate than many other types of plants.

Blueberry Flowers

  • Bury it to the same depth as it is now, leave the crown above the soil line
  • Water generously after planting
  • Add more soil if the level sinks down

Leave some space in the container, about 1/2″-1″ above the soil line to the edge of the container so the soil doesn’t spill out when you water.

  • Make sure the crown of the plant is not buried
  • Press down firmly but gently so the plant is stable in the container
  • Water the plant well, soak it completely

Blueberry Facts

  • Two different varieties are needed for good pollination
  • The Pink Lemonade variety will pollinate both the blue and pink varieties
  • Slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 is ideal
  • Don’t disturb soil or roots once planted
  • Yearly pruning of oldest branches will produce new shoots  
  • Feed with good quality organic fertilisers
  • Plant in a light soil mixed with 50% peat moss

This is an easy way to add a little acidity to your blueberries: sprinkle tea leaves on the soil and as it rains the tea will soak down in the soil and lower the pH.

Shop with Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Fertilizers

There are berry fertilisers which are formulated specifically for blueberry plants.

Down to Earth carries a complete line of organic fertilisers that are perfect to nourish all of your blueberry plants with the right balance of nutrients and minerals they need.

Container plants need more help getting nutrients because of the confined space, the roots cannot dig down and gain the nutrients from the soil themselves.




They have very tender roots

Once you plant your new blueberry plants don’t move them. Whether it’s planted in a container or in the ground make certain you are going to leave it alone after planting. 

The blueberry plant has a small root system and doesn’t take a big footprint. The plant can live in the same container for years and years with no problem as long as you feed and fertilise it and do your best to keep it healthy.

If you want to, at planting time in the same large tub, you can also add a couple of strawberry plants around the edge. They will grow happily together and produce quite a bit of fruit from a small area. Do this only at first planting though.

Do not dig in later on to add any plants to the edge of an established potted blueberry plant. Chances are high that it will kill the blueberry. 

The tiny “hair” roots of the blueberry are very sensitive. I learned this the hard way! It’s way too easy to kill a blueberry plant, even a large one with just digging in to the edge a little bit.

The hardest part about growing these delicious berries is waiting for them to ripen and become their sweetest.

Please leave a comment if you have questions about planting blueberries or tell me about your blueberry growing experiences.


Buy Blueberry Plants at DirectGardening.com


Comments

How to Grow Blueberries in Pots — 15 Comments

  1. Hi I live in UK I have just bought 2 small blueberry plants they have been grown in a container together should I separate them or plant together
    Regards Angie

    • Leaving them together is best, just gently massage the root ball a little and plant them as they are now. They would mostly die if you tried to separate them.

  2. Hello,
    I live in Montrose, CO (zone 6b). I’m considering trying to grow a few dwarf varieties of blueberries in pots or raised beds, and have a few questions for you:
    1) What size of toy tub, or raised bed do I need for a dwarf variety? Spacing ranges from 2-4 feet, but I want to make sure the plants’ roots have enough room.
    2) Is a wooden raised be enough for insulation? I was planning on covering with burlap, and possibly even using actual insulation or styrofoam around the pot, or raised bed. I likely can’t do a green house or move them to the garage.
    3) Do you recommend any dwarf varieties for the zone I’m in?

    Thanks in advance for any consideration.
    RW

    • Just realized I may not have been clear on my 2nd question above – It’s in the context of when winter starts to set in with sustained cold weather.
      I also had another question… Any advice on where to purchase the plants from. I’ve seen a few online that seem credible, but I’ve never purchased plants online for shipment, etc… Thanks Again!
      RW

    • Hi Russ

      The dwarf blueberry plants should grow well for you in zone 6b with some winter insulation like you described. Also putting a good layer of straw on the soil surface will help insulate as well. Just about any large toy tub or container will be fine for them. The root system on a blueberry isn’t very big. Any size of raised bed will be fine as well.

      Among the many blueberry plants I have in my garden I have several single large blueberry plants in 18″ containers and I also have 3 dwarf plants tucked cozily together in a 16″ container. They will most likely adapt to whatever growing environment you choose for them. It’s just important to not move them once they are planted, they die easily when disrupted.

      Some of the varieties recommended for zone 6 are Bluetta, Becky Blue, Bluebelle, Bonita, Brightwell, Sunshine Blue, Delite, Garden Blue, Tophat, Northblue and Northsky (there are many more as well). Generally, what I’d look for are dwarf plants that ripen early to mid season. This way you won’t run the risk of losing your harvest to the frost.

      I’ve always purchased my blueberry plants at my local nursery. I’m far too addicted to looking at and touching all of the beautiful plants and choosing each one myself. However, there are plenty of good online sources for plants if you don’t have a good quality nursery near you. In either case, I recommend buying the largest plant(s) you can afford, this way it’ll have the biggest head start to get going and growing flowers and then of course delicious fruit.

      When buying online, it’s good to do an independent search for customer reviews of any given company. This way you’ll find out what previous customers have experienced and get an idea of the success rate of their products. A few minutes doing this research can easily save you a lot of heartache.

      I hope I got to all of your questions, let me know if I missed anything! Good luck.

  3. I live in New York. I bought one blueberry plant, Vaccinium BrazelBerries Pink Icing from a nursery online. We planted in a ceramic pot outside and did well without fertilizer. Our winters are bad so I just brought it inside and added some organic soil.on top of soil already in plant. I will purchase high acidic fertilizer in a few days. Any suggestions and is it better to bring it inside or leave it out.

    • That’s a good idea, a cold garage for the plant will give it protection from the worst of the winter cold but still allow for it get the winter chill hours that it needs. The Pink Icing blueberry needs at least 500 chill hours for it’s dormancy time. That’s only 21 days that the plant has to be kept between 32 degrees and 45 degrees.

      Once the worst of the winter passes then it could go back outside. Is it a small plant? If it’s small then it’ll need more protection. Wait until spring to give it fertilizer, let the plant be dormant for now and then give it the fertilizer when it’s time for it wake up and start growing in the spring.

      In the spring I recommend getting a second plant of any variety, the blueberry needs at least one friend for cross pollination to occur and a harvest set.

  4. I live in the Seattle area of Washington. I have four blueberry plants, each in a container. I’m not sure what varieties they are, but I’m sure each one is different. I am having trouble with them not keeping fruit. That bloom like crazy, and just when the buds start to plump up, more than half of them shrivel and fall off. I’ve started using happy frog acid loving fertilizer, which helps, and making sure they get watered, but I’m having the same problem this year. I’m not sure if the size of the container may be a factor?

    • This sounds like it might be a lack of pollination. Do you notice lots of bees around when the flowers are blooming? Or does it seem like there aren’t that many bees around? Do you have other flowers as well? If not, then you can add a variety of flowers to the garden nearby the blueberries then you should see more bees and hopefully better pollination.

      What size are the containers that you have them in? If they’re on the small side (relative to the plant) then you can upsize the container with some additional fresh soil. This should help them too, just be very careful with the roots if you change the containers they’re in. The roots are sensitive and even minor damage could kill the entire plant.

      Good luck, let me know how it goes!

  5. Hi. I bought 2 blueberry plants on sale but the ‘kind’ wasnt given. I potted them in larger containers but they have not flowered/produced anything yet – only green leaves. Any suggestions? I am new to growing blueberries (trying)

    • Is this is your first year with the two plants? Sometimes it takes a while (maybe a year or two) for the plants to get settled in their new home and start producing big harvests. If you’re getting green leaves then I think the plants are healthy and should start making berries next year. In the spring you can give them some good quality “fruit and berry” food of your choice that should boost them along a bit more. I recommend this product if you don’t already have a preference.

  6. I live in South Florida and I want to plant Earliglow strawberries around my new Blueberry Elizabeth plant. I understand how dificult this might be due to our baking summer sun. How far apart should i keep the strawberries from the blueberry plant? Any advise to help my plants thrive will be much appreciated.

    • Hi, it sounds like you live in a lovely climate! I’ve never seen an Elizabeth blueberry in my area…but I think I need to find one! They sound amazing.

      Are you growing the blueberry plant in a container? If so, the strawberries can be planted randomly around the edge of the pot. If the blueberry is planted in the ground then 4″ – 6″ away from the stalk of the blueberry is good enough. The roots of the young strawberry and blueberry plants will intertwine and grow together and have no issues. You just won’t be able to separate them in the future, that’s all. Move them together as a clump if you need to.

      In both growing environments, the biggest thing would be watering and making sure they get quite a bit of it since your summer is that hot. As long as they get consistent water and they aren’t allowed to completely dry out, then they’ll be fine.

  7. Hi, I live in KS and of course we can get quite cold. If I plant blueberries in a container would the plant survive if I bring it in to my basement during the hard winter months? I have one window and several plant lights I use for other plants I bring in.

    Thank you for your help, very informative site.

    Susan

    • Hi Susan

      That would work, just keep it lightly watered all winter and it should be just fine. It’s even better that you have plant lights in your basement.
      Thank you! Glad you liked the site 🙂

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