Container mix for blueberries

emorems0(PA - 6a)April 29, 2014

Mixing up a bunch of 5-1-1 mix for various potted plants that don't fit in my in-ground beds. After reading through the big thread on 5-1-1 it seems that the only switch for blueberries would be to swap the garden lime for gypsum... problem is, I haven't been able to find gypsum locally.

Then I started thinking about what the guy from the blueberry farm told me about planting media and how different it is from 5-1-1. When I bought my first blueberry plants a few years ago, I recall him saying to use a mix of playground sand and sphagnum peat moss and I think that was it.

So, what's a good container soil for blueberries? At this point, I just need to get these new plants potted and don't have much time/money to go out and search for new stuff... I mean, if I have to I will, but I'd rather not. I have available, pine bark much (pretty fine, I can sift it), sphagnum peat moss, perlite, mushroom compost, topsoil, Dynamite 15-5-9 CRF, and garden lime.

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I have 6 blueberries in pots ranging from 3 to 6 years old, and they are all growing well. They are in a mix of pine bark mulch and peat with some perlite. I modified the 5:1 ratio of pine bark to peat to approx. 4 to 2. I find I needed the extra peat for water retention. Don't worry about the gypsum for now, it's just for calcium anyway, and you can supplement the calcium in other ways. I know Espoma makes a garden gypsum product.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:20AM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

I save my egg shells from my friend's backyard chickens to crush and toss in the garden... Would that work for calcium?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:50AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

In my experience, egg shells are very, very slow to break down, so I wouldn't consider them to be a reliable source of calcium for container gardening. Unless you're planning to fertilize organically, check your local big box store for Miracle Gro's Shake 'n Feed Tomato, Fruits, and Vegetables. Ed uses it and first brought it to my attention -- it will provide calcium (as well as other major and minor nutrients) plus the balance of its nitrogen is in blueberry friendly forms (ammonium and urea).

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:56PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I'd failed to notice that you mentioned having Dynamite CRF on hand on first reading. Although it has a higher nitrate percentage than the MG product, it should be perfectly fine and will provide the necessary calcium. As far as the potting mix goes, I'm also a fan of bark-based mixes. When growing in plastic pots, I've done fine with the 5-1-1 mix (w/o lime, of course), but, in more porous containers (fabric or terra cotta, for example), I've done just what Ed recommends and upped the peat fraction to 20% to 25%.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:06PM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

Thanks all!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:38PM
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