Why Container Blueberries
Many blueberry varieties are small enough to do well as container plants, ranging from 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. This means you can grow tasty berries on almost any sunny deck, patio or balcony! An added bonus is the multi-season beauty of blueberry bushes; dainty spring blooms, summer fruit & lush foliage and autumn color. Beyond wanting blueberries close at hand or having limited space, growing them in containers makes it easier to provide the soil acidity they need. Choose a variety that is suited to your zone and space limitations and get ready to enjoy berries in your cereal and beauty on your patio!
Most varieties can be planted in a 20 – 24”container and those varieties that only reach 2 feet can be planted in a 16 – 18” container. To meet the acidity needs of blueberries, use potting mix formulated for acid-loving plants or use standard potting soil and add an acid fertilizer – an acidity range of 4.5 to 5.0 pH is best. Plant them to the same depth in their permanent container as they were in their nursery pot.
Feed & Water
An application of acidic fertilizer is advised in early and late spring, each year. Throughout the growing season the soil should be kept moist, but not soaked, for best growth and fruit production. Be sure to check soil moisture daily during hot or windy weather as container soil can dry out very quickly! A layer of mulch atop the potting soil and light-colored containers can help reduce water needs.
Harvest & Storage
Ripe Blueberries will be true blue (no hints of red or purple) and firm but not hard. Unripe ones will not ripen further once picked. Ripe ones will roll easily off the stem and into the palm of your hand with a simple nudge from your thumb. Should you manage not to eat them all before they get to the kitchen, they store well in the fridge. Place them in an airtight container lined with paper towels. If rinsed first they will be good for about 5 days and un-rinsed for up to 2 weeks. They can also be frozen, canned, jammed, jellied and baked into tasty treats.
In areas where the soil typically freezes, the roots of container blueberries could be damaged. The containers will need to be moved and/or insulated against this. Allow the plants to weather several light frosts, before tucking them in against hard freezing. Options include: moving them into an unheated garage, burying the pot in the ground over winter or moving containers up against a building and protecting with straw bales or insulating wraps.