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
  • Pink Lemonade will pollinate the blue varieties and vice versa

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 fertilizers (like this one from Dr. Earth)
  • 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. Buy a pH tester here.

Shop with Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Fertilizers

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

Down to Earth carries a complete line of organic fertilizers 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. A toy tub like this one is perfect for 1-3 blueberry plants to live together. 




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 fertilize 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

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One thought on “How to Grow Blueberries in Pots

  1. julian Holmes

    May 17, 2018 at 2:51am

    H….i I just bought a Pink Lemonade blueberry plant and I know they do better with a blueberry companion for better crops. I already have 2 Northland blueberry plants ,My question really is does it matter what variety of copanion blueberry plant or is it something more specific than that …Thanks!

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    • Author

      Stacy

      May 17, 2018 at 7:03am

      Awesome, I know you’ll love the pink lemonade berries! The two Northlands that you have right now are good pollinators for the pink one. The variety doesn’t matter, it’s just that they like to have friends nearby for better pollination.

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  2. Michael Porteus

    June 22, 2017 at 10:13pm

    Hi. I have just bought 6 Highbush Blue Rose, Blue Berry plants. Where I live in South Australia the soil is very alkaline. I was going to plant them in the ground until I did some research and found that they are acid loving plants. What can I do to improve the soil to suit, or should I plant then in pots. If so what size pots would be suitable for Highbush plants? Michael Porteus

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    • Stacy

      June 23, 2017 at 7:40am

      There are some options open to you depending on how much work you want to do and how you want it to look. Any large pot will do that has a minimum 16″ diameter or more.

      The simplest way would be to build (or buy) above ground boxes or raised beds and then fill those with good fresh soil that’s on the acidic side. Ideally they like a 4.8 – 5.2 soil pH.

      If you want them to be planted in the ground then I’d recommend digging out a decent sized hole (2′ diameter or so) for each of the plants and discard that soil. Then fill the holes with good acidic soil from another source and put the plants in that. They should be good with that as their new home.

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  3. Judy McDowell

    June 5, 2017 at 10:54am

    Hi Stackhouse,
    Just purchased 4 different blueberry plants in 1 gallon pots. Most of them already have some berries forming on them. Is it OK to transplant to larger containers at this time or do you recommend waiting until after berry cycle is Finished? Can I use larger plastic pots when I do repot?

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    • Stacy

      June 9, 2017 at 3:43pm

      I would leave the plants where they are for now and replant them after the berries are done as long as you keep them well watered. But, having said that if you are very gentle with the root balls then it would be ok to replant them now. Yes, larger plastic pots would be just fine. If they are 16″ across or so then two plants could go into each larger pot.

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      • Stacy

        June 21, 2017 at 12:44pm

        Hi! Should 2 different varieties have their own pots or can they be planted together in one pot.
        Thank you

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        • Stacy

          June 22, 2017 at 8:14am

          They can definitely go into one pot together, they just have to stay that way for their lifetime. They most likely won’t survive if you try to separate them at some point down the road.

          I have 3 young Duke’s in a round pot that is 16″ across the top and about 10″ deep. In hindsight though, I think 2 plants are perfect for that container, not three. The 3 I have together will most likely end up a bit crowded.

          They’d look great in a rectangle cedar box!

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  4. Jerry

    April 4, 2017 at 1:43pm

    Hello I just brought 3 1 year old plants of Sunshine blue. I am living in UK. I also purchase 40cm pots. Is this pot ok for 1 year old blueberry? Also I got Ericaceous compost for planting and Ericaceous fetilizer. Do I need anything else? Kind Regards Jerry

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    • Stacy

      April 8, 2017 at 3:38pm

      Yes, those pots should be good. Are they 40cm across the top? I think the ericaceous compost and fertilizer will be sufficient to get the young plants started off nicely. Let me know how it goes!

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  5. Angela Patterson

    February 22, 2017 at 5:21am

    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

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    • Stacy

      February 22, 2017 at 6:34am

      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.

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  6. Russ

    January 31, 2017 at 8:47pm

    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

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    • Russ

      February 1, 2017 at 12:32pm

      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

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    • Stacy

      February 2, 2017 at 4:04pm

      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.

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  7. Pat

    December 9, 2016 at 9:40am

    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.

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    • Stacy

      December 12, 2016 at 7:04pm

      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.

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  8. Virginia

    May 22, 2016 at 1:12pm

    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?

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    • Stacy

      June 6, 2016 at 1:03pm

      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!

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  9. lu

    July 20, 2015 at 10:06am

    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)

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    • Stacy

      July 28, 2015 at 7:06am

      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.

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  10. Lili

    April 4, 2015 at 6:56pm

    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.

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    • Stacy

      April 8, 2015 at 8:07pm

      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.

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  11. Susan Matthews

    March 29, 2015 at 8:52pm

    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

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    • Stacy

      March 31, 2015 at 6:20am

      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 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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