North Coast Gardening: Try growing your blueberries in containers

Photo by Ashlee Attebery on Unsplash
January 16, 2020

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to growing blueberries is getting the soil just right to suit their needs. If soil is does not drain well in winter or is not acidic enough, blueberry bushes will fail. An easy way to circumvent these issues is to grow them in containers. This is an effective way you can control soil drainage, pH and fertility. Here is what to do:

· Choose wisely: It’s best to choose varieties of blueberries that will perform well in containers.  ‘NorthSky,’ ‘Sunshine Blue’ and ‘Patriot’ are good for container growing. The dwarf Bushel and Berry series of blueberry plants are bred to be small and also do well in containers. Please keep in mind that blueberry yield will be best if you have at least two different varieties growing near each other.  Even if the plant label says self-fertile.

· Don’t skimp: This means go for the gold when it comes to the planting mix. Blueberries do best in an acid, well-draining planting medium. You can make your own mix by mixing equal parts of peat moss, acid planting mix and perlite. There are also excellent pre-made planter mixes created for blueberries.

· Fertilize: Blueberries need an acid type fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Acidic fertilizers help keep the pH 4.3 to 5.5, ideal conditions for blueberries. Cottonseed meal and blood meal are excellent natural fertilizer that blueberries love. Use them with coffee grounds first in early spring as buds begin to open, then again late spring. That is the fertilizing window. No more after that.

· Full sun: Blueberries need at least six hours of sunlight a day. On the foggy coast, they need even more. Well-tended bushes will always look good with less sun, but fruit yield will be low.

· Water: Never allow blueberries to dry out during the summer fruiting months. Plants should be soaked at least twice a week, more often if it’s hot and windy.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.