Growing blueberries in pots is an incredibly rewarding experience. With a little patience and time, you will be enjoying this fresh, antioxidant-rich fruit straight from your garden, even if you are short on space.
Planting your blueberries in pots allows you to control the soil acidity requirements and gives you more control over the amount of sunlight and water they receive. Plus, you can set these pots up right outside your backdoor and grab a handful of berries any time of the day.
If you decide to plant blueberries in your container garden, you are looking at a long commitment. When cared for properly, these perennial bushes will produce for years to come. Be sure that you select a sturdy, deep container that will be able to weather various seasons and is at least 18” deep. It is possible to transplant berry bushes but it is best to keep them in the same pot during their lifespan to avoid unnecessary trauma.
Pollination is necessary
Fruit plants need companionship (unless they are self-pollinating) if they are going to produce. It is important that you have a few blueberry plants in close vicinity of each other so that they will be able to pollinate. You can also choose to have a number of different varieties to capitalize on the growing season and enjoy fresh fruit for longer.
Protection from hungry birds
Birds love blueberries just as much as you do. As your plants mature, be sure to cover them with bird netting to prevent your favorite songbirds from taking off with your delicious fruit.
Soil acidity is critical
Blueberries need extra acidic soil in order to flourish, which is just another reason they tend to do well in buckets, where the soil can be carefully controlled. Creating an acidic environment for your plants is not hard, however, it is an essential step in blueberry planting.
Fill your selected pot ⅔ of the way full with a traditional potting mix and fill the remaining third with a potting mix specifically designed for acidic-loving plants. You should be able to find this high-acid soil at most garden centers and nurseries.
Blueberries love the sun
As with most plants, blueberries love the sun. They need at least 6-8 hours of full sun every day in order to flourish. Take some time to measure the sun exposure in various parts of your yard or patio and select the area that soaks up the most rays.
Understand the water rule
Though these plants love to be moist, too much water can quickly lead to rot. Blueberries prefer sandy soil that drains well. Use your finger to check about 1-2 inches down in the soil of the pot. If it is still wet, you can skip watering. Keep in mind, these plants are not drought-resistant, so while it is important to avoid overwatering, you also want to make sure not to let the soil get too dry. It may be a good idea to use a drip irrigation system to avoid having to remember watering so frequently.
Consider the winter
Even though blueberries are incredibly hardy to the cold, it is still important to protect them in their dormant season. Wrap them in burlap or cover them in a layer of straw. You can also try moving your pots against a building under a shed to get them out of the wind if you experience a particularly harsh winter. Water your plants occasionally throughout the winter to prevent them from drying out completely.
Mulch is essential
Mulch is essential when growing blueberries in containers. Keep a thick layer at least 2-3 inches deep around the base of your plant. This layer will help keep out weeds, retain moisture, and keep the soil warm.
Be careful not to over-fertilize
Because blueberries are so low-maintenance, it can actually be possible over-fertilize your plants. You can choose to avoid fertilizer altogether or use a slow-release fertilizer once or twice per year.
Wait to harvest
Once blueberries have turned blue and are slightly soft to the touch, wait a few days and then harvest. They should fall off right into your hand with little effort.
Have you ever grown blueberries in a bucket? Let us know what worked for you in the comments below!