A pint of berries is an expensive snack for something that can be devoured in just a few minutes. For the cost of ten pints, it’s possible to plant a berry bush and eat from it year after year. The flavor is guaranteed to be off the charts compared to supermarket berries. Even if you only have a tiny patio—as long as there is at least 6 hours of sun each day—you can grow enough for the entire family to snack as they please.
These midsummer fruits grow on a clump of canes about 4 feet tall. They have modest thorns, though there are a few thornless varieties to choose from, such as “Canby” and “Nova.”
If the canes start flopping over under the weight of the fruit, use any trellis designed for tomatoes to give support—just push the trellis into the soil inside the pot with the canes inside.
Compared to raspberries, most blackberry plants have formidable thorns and the canes are more vine-like, reaching 8 feet or more if left unpruned.
Fortunately for container gardeners, plant breeders have developed compact, thornless varieties with short, stiff canes. The top performers of these shrubbier cultivars include “Apache” and “Arapaho,” which have fruit up to 2 inches in size.
With their compact growth habit and well-groomed foliage, blueberry bushes are one of the most handsome edibles. By choosing one each of an early, mid or late maturing variety, it’s possible to gorge on blueberries from June through September.
There is a secret to blueberry soil, however: it needs to be extra acidic. Instead of using conventional potting soil, look for specialized mixes labeled for acid-loving plants, like hydrangeas and camellias.
Tips to Your Success
- Big, delicious harvests come from berries in large containers filled with ultra-rich soil. Plan on approximately 15 gallons of soil per plant. The half wine barrel planters sold at many garden centers are just the right size.
- Berries have shallow roots and need to stay consistently moist. As a general rule, water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Cover the soil with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to hold the moisture in and keep the roots cool.
- Fertilize lightly once per month during the growing season, making sure to use a product high in phosphorus to stimulate fruiting.