Sweet, juicy, bright blueberries growing on bushy green shrubs are nature's candy. Varieties fall into three basic categories, including Lowbush, Highbush, and Rabbit Eye. Dwarf cultivars and low-growing varieties are the natural choice for pots, with the added benefit of portability during weather changes, winter storage, and less expense and time spent on soil preparation. Home gardeners can enjoy potted blueberry bushes in their own garden with some planning and dedication. Plant in the fall or early spring for best results.
Choose a container that will accommodate your blueberry bush over many seasons of growth. Highbush varieties require very large containers, such as halved wine barrels, and will be very difficult to move once planted. Lowbush varieties and dwarf cultivars may be planted in 10-gallon containers. Containers should be kept in full sun.
Prepare the soil mixture for planting. Oregon State University Extension experts suggest a mixture of 80 percent fir bark, 20 percent peat moss and 20 percent perlite. By mixing your own media, you will provide just the right conditions for blueberry growth without tricky or expensive amendments. Fill the container leaving room for planting.
Plant the blueberry bush start at the same level it stood in the nursery container, and gently firm around the topsoil with your hand.
Apply 3 inches of composted pine bark mulch around the blueberry start.
Water the blueberry bush thoroughly and keep soil moist but not soggy during root establishment. Soggy roots or pooling water are a sure way to invite disease and root rot into your container.
Prune the young bush after planting by removing up to 40 percent of the new growth at the tips to create a bushier plant. This also means trimming flower buds and pinching off flowers that would produce fruit later in the season. You will exchange fruit for the first planting season for a healthier, better fruiting plant in the years to come.
Wait to apply the first round of fertilizer until the bush has a full set of leaves during the growing season. Apply 1 tbsp. azalea mix fertilizer in a circle around the bush, about a foot away from the base. Repeat in six weeks, and again at the same interval if there is time before cool fall weather sets in.
Bring the container indoors to a cool place with minimal light if temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit in your area. Water before storage and then lightly through the winter to prevent drying out. However, do not continue normal watering schedules or provide too much heat or light, as new growth during this time is not healthy for the bush.