Blueberries are notoriously fussy about soil pH. While most garden plants prefer a neutral or slightly alkaline soil, blueberries like acidic soil. One way around this is to grow your blueberries in containers. You can build the soil from scratch to provide good drainage and the proper pH. Blueberries grown in containers will need special winter protection. Blueberries are high in vitamins and antioxidants, and can be made into delicious jams, jellies, pies and more.
Choose a dwarf variety of blueberry. Standard-sized blueberries are too big to be grown in containers, but dwarf blueberries adjust well to life in pots. Patriot and Elliot are blueberry cultivars that grow well in containers.
Find a large container in which to grow your blueberries. A large container will help maintain good drainage and will give your blueberry room to spread out its roots. The extra soil will also help insulate it from cold temperatures in winter. A half whiskey barrel is a good size for blueberry bushes. Try to find a container that will hold at least 8 cubic feet of soil. Make sure the container you use has holes in the bottom for drainage.
Choose a location for your blueberries where they will get close to a full day of sun. Prepare the container in its intended location, since it may be too heavy to move once it is full.
Fill the container with an acidic potting mix, such as one designed for azaleas or rhododendrons. You can also make your own potting blend by mixing equal parts all-purpose potting mix, peat moss or sphagnum moss, and compost. Blueberries like a good amount of organic material, and they do best with a pH around 4.8. Do not add gravel or stones to the bottom of the container, fill it all the way with potting mix.
Plant the blueberries at the same depth they were originally growing. If your blueberry transplants are bare root, look for a change in bark texture or color to indicate planting depth, or plant the blueberries so that their roots are covered with about 1 inch of soil. Water well.
Apply mulch to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Good mulches for blueberries include peat moss, bark or pine needles.
Fertilizer your blueberries once or twice in the early spring with an acid-producing fertilizer, such as one designed for azaleas.
Water your blueberries regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
Move your blueberries into an unheated garage in the winter to protect them from cold if you are located in zone 5 or lower. Use a dolly to transport the heavy containers. Water your blueberries infrequently during the winter--once every four to six weeks--just enough to keep the roots from drying out.
Move your blueberries back outside once temperatures are starting to warm up. Container-grown blueberries can usually withstand light frosts, but not hard freezes.
Things You Will Need
- Blueberry bushes
- Large container
- Potting mix
- Peat moss or sphagnum moss
- Acid-producing fertilizer
- Plant two or more blueberry bushes to ensure adequate cross-pollination.
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