Growing your own blueberries is easy and delicious, the hardest part is just waiting for them to ripen. You won’t regret add a few (or several) of them to your backyard garden.
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 grow the 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 too.
Using use of a greenhouse of about any design will help a lot, but if you have space then build or buy one such as this.
I recommend choosing at least two different varieties of blueberry. This is required for cross-pollination which helps each plant to be healthier 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 plants will pollinate the blue varieties and vice versa
I recommend buying the largest plants you can afford. You’ll get a larger, more established plant that will thrive and produce fruit 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 and your plant will grow and develop much more quickly than a cheaper or smaller 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 bottom of the plant is on an angle but the top of the plant becomes vertical. The roots won’t know the difference and your plant will look tall and straight.
Types of Blueberries
- Pink Lemonade
- North Blue
- Top Hat Dwarf
- Blue Crop
- Blue Gold
- and many more
On planting day, carefully remove it from the pot that it was 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 the roots it if it’s tight.
Doing this will let the plant know that it’s no longer in a container and will help stimulate new root growth.
However, too much disturbance or rough handling of the roots could kill the plant no matter what size it is. Blueberry plant roots are much more delicate than some other types of plants.
- Soak the plant in a bucket of water if it’s small, just water it well after planting if putting it in a bucket isn’t possible
- Bury it to the same depth as it is now, leaving the crown above the soil line
- Water generously after planting
- Add more soil if the level sinks down
- Press down firmly but gently so the plant is stable in the container
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.
- At least two different varieties are needed nearby each other for good pollination
- The Pink Lemonade variety will pollinate both the blue and pink varieties
- The blue blueberries will pollinate the pink ones too
- 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 used 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.
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 1-2 blueberry plants to live together.
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. Moving the container is ok but don’t disturb the roots.
The blueberry plant has a small root system, 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.
The hardest part about growing these delicious berries is waiting for them to ripen.
Please leave a comment if you have questions about planting blueberries or tell me about your blueberry growing experiences.