When people plant blueberries in containers, how big of a container do they generally use? I know there are some dwarf varieties of blueberry bush... Is a 5 gallon bucket just way too small for these varieties?
I'm not sure exactly but I think blueberries have wide root systems but not very deep?
5 gallon buckets are 12' wide, 12 inches deep.
You could give it a go and repot in the fall if need be.
The wild blueberries on my propertly only grow in the top 2-3 inches of soil. It's really easy to dig them up.
I planted 2 x Jersey bushes in the ground last fall that are doing great. The holes were 14" wide by about 8 inches deep. I planted an early blue and some other self pollinating variety this spring in the same size holes in the ground and they seem to be doing well also.
Ok, thanks for the info! I'll give it a shot!
I grow almost everything in containers. The only blueberry I would grow in a 12 inch deep pot, like a 5 gallon bucket, is a wild blueberry or huckleberry. You can grow any variety of blueberry in a container, but a 'highbush' blueberry grows to 7 or 8 feet tall with a 4 to 6 foot spread. A 'lowbush' variety (my recommendation) is 2 to 4 feet tall with a 2 to 4 foot spread.
Although blueberries do have a very shallow root system, the roots spread outward way past the dripline of the plant at full width.
So, You really need a good wide pot (at least 20") for the roots, and you need a 2 foot depth for the height of the plant. (Think about even a 30" bush in a 12" deep pot and I think you'll see what I mean).
Lastly choose the right varieties for your climate/zone. And choose 3- one each of an early, midseason and late variety- spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. You need these because they need to cross polinate with each other.
You'll be in berries all season (after you wait for 2-3 years for the plants to get established).
Growing blueberries in large pots is a great idea though, it's easy to adjust and keep the soil as acid, (lowbush likes a ph of about 4.0 to 5.0) as it likes, without effecting your other soil as much.
It's also great to be able to cover the whole large pot with fencing or netting or rowcover etc, to protect from frost, birds etc.
When they start producing- you'll get 5 or 6 pints per plant.
The pots I use are from Lowes, Home Depot etc- they are off white (best for not frying the soil, about 20-24 " across, only about 20" deep, but are supported with welded wire fence round cages that I can cover when needed, and that add to the stability of the pot. By the way, the pots come with removeable saucers. I take them off and use them for birdbaths and micro mix growing of lettuce. I drill new holes, about 1/2" all the way around the bottom of the pots about an inch up from the ground. I cut circles of metal screen or landscape fabric to fit into the bottom and up the sides past the holes which keeps out the critters like sow bugs etc.and stops the soil from leaving the pot. I mix in Soilmoist (best price I've found is at LIroots.com), in all my pots. Not cheap, but lasts in the soil for years and years and really helps the pot watering scenario.
Lastly, put the pots in full sun, and make sure they get an inch of water a week, add an extra 1/2 inch a week when they start producing berries.
Don't be put off by the extra work to get going- blueberries are one of the most satisfying long term crops you can have in your garden.Good luck to you.
wow, that's a lot of advice! I think I am going to have to stick with 5 gallon buckets though, because the plants will be growing on my roof and weight is an issue. I worry that buckets too much bigger will be too heavy. Can I trim the bushes to stay relatively small? I don't need HUGE harvests, as these are just for me and for fun. The pictures I saw of dwarf varieties look pretty small... but maybe they're just fooling me.
I have some blueberries in '5-gallon buckets'. One is entering its third year, and one its second. So far they have shown no signs of problems. Unfortunately, I do not know their types. They were bought at a bigbox store, and I doubt there is much variety in what types they sell. Keep in mind that a typical white '5-gallon bucket' may actually hold more than 5G...
Sorry Yipla, I didn't know you were trying to grow on the balcony, I can see the weight is a major issue for you.
Even if the dwarf you are looking at is- (partially) self pollinating, you will still need to have at least 2 so that the bees can pollinate them.
My guess is that the 'dwarf' you are looking at is actually what some growers refer to as lowbush (1 to 2 feet). The lowbush I referred to in my first post are sometimes called midsize (2-4 feet) and the biggest everyone calls a highbush. (There are also southern or 'rabbiteye' bluberries for hot summer areas of the southeast.)
As to pruning to keep small. The dwarf/lowbush 1-2 feet tall bluberries are really considered a groundcover blueberry. They are planted about 2 feet apart in the regular garden and they spread and fill in that space in about 5 years. To prune them, usually they are mowed down with a lawn mower in late winter. They will not bear any fruit the growing season after they are mowed. (The crop would usually be split in half- one mowed and one not so the plants would fruit on alternate years.) To prune in a container-you would cut off the older stems to the ground and leave the newer ones,that grew the season before, to bear fruit. You can't trim/prune the sides and tips of the stems to keep the plant smaller because you will keep removing the little bush's bearing stems.
The larger blueberry varieties are pruned by removing only fallen, old or crowded middle stems, or if the bush grew too many new stems, these are all cut to the ground. The bushes are never tip pruned to shape or make smaller.
By the way, each of the 'dwarf/lowbush' plants will only give you a small handful or two of berries even if all goes very well.
Have you considered strawberries for your space? They will go in containers half the depth of a 5 gallon bucket, in hanging baskets or window boxes or round pots. They are easy to grow and pretty to look at. They can give you lots of berries all at once or throughout the season depending on the variety. If you buy transplants they will produce for you this very year. I have had great success growing them over the years on small decks etc. like your space.
They are cheap enough to pull out at the end of the year and buy new ones to plant next year, not having to worry about watering and caring for all winter, like blueberry bushes. Just a thought....
Hydropetunia- (love your name)- you said your plants are doing just fine in the buckets- have your blueberry bushes bloomed and fruited yet? And have you pruned them?
Yipla- I did see you said you'd be growing on the roof and not balcony, sorry. I did want to mention also that soilmoist in your growing medium and some way to shade your pots on the roof would be a very good idea for any fruit growing up there.
Rebecca, thanks for the info. I will need to keep in mind the pruning requirements. Also, Do potted blueberries do well if their roots are pruned too? I've seen recommendations for that for some plants. The roof they will be on is in full sun, but I thought all berries/fruits like full sun? Do you mean I need to shade the pot, but not the plant, so that the soil doesn't get too hot?
I am also going to grow some strawberries, Ozark Beauty and Honeoye. I hope to get some berries this year!
Blueberries want cool roots, Yipla. A container in full sun sitting on a roof doesn't qualify ;-) Not saying they won't make it, but some provision for shading the container or double potting to get evaporative cooling will go a long way to making happy blueberries.
I have not pruned them in a proper way (may start this fall), but I have taken off branches here and there in an amateur way. As for blooming and fruiting, I do not know if you mean in general or only for this year. I have two plants, which I bought in maybe 1 gallon containers. They each bloomed and fruited their first year, and have continued. If you are wondering about -this- season, they have leafed out nicely but are not yet blooming.
I'm not too concerned with getting a maximum yield, just happy to have a handful from time to time...
I would suggest 'Top Hat' blueberry. I believe you do not need another variety for cross pollination for them to fruit. They can be grown in very large terra cotta pots. I have grown them and know several people who have and have been very satisfied with the results.
Ok, I was looking at either Top Hat or Northblue. I agree with hydropetunia, I am not trying to get a ton of blueberries or anything. But, I will try to figure out how to keep the roots cool. If they're getting dripped on with drip irrigation during the day will that cool them enough?
If they're getting dripped on with drip irrigation during the day will that cool them enough?
Only one way to find out ;-)
Will the hose leading to the emitters be exposed to the sun? If so the water will be hot until it's flushed out and the cooler water gets into the hose.
Still, not saying it won't work, just that blueberries prefer cool roots.
Hi. I have a grown dwarf blueberry called "top hat" that has been in the same 10 inch pot for maybe 8-10 years.You only need 1 plant. You don't get a good harvest right away on this type, it is slow growing. Maybe it takes 5 yrs to get a significant fruiting. I bought a second one (the other pot and this will be it's 3rd season. The big one is long overdue for repotting, maybe it will grow a little bigger if I do. Mine is in a concrete patio in full sun but I have it elevated about 3 feet from the concrete and it does fine. It is very hardy and mine thrived even with some neglect but now that it's rootbound it dries up quickly that's why I plan to replant it at the end of summer when the fruiting is done.
I put two "top hat" blueberry plants into 10" containers last year after the blooming season. They grew nicely and this spring were covered in blooms. Unfortunately, we had a hard freeze (20 degrees) for several days and most of the blooms were killed. I could kick myself for not bringing them inside since they were in containers. But...nevertheless...I have a good many baby berries from the center of the plant. I would have probably had several quarts of berries if I had brought them inside during the freezing weather. I don't know when to repot them to larger pots and if anyone knows, please let me know. The plants themselves survived the freeze nicely...just mainly blossums died. I am a happy camper with these container drawfs..I think they will produce enough for me to eat along and freeze a few packs for muffins during the winter.
I don't know when to repot them to larger pots and if anyone knows, please let me know.
Since you have had these plants awhile you will simply 'know' when a repot is in order. You have developed a feel for watering them and at some point you will notice they need water more frequently. This is an indication the plant has outgrown the water retaining capacity of the given soil volume so a greater soil volume is in order.
There is also no harm whatsoever in dumping the plant out of the container in the dormant season to get a visual on the roots.
On the topic of dumping blueberries out of the containers in the dormant season, if you don't want to repot into a bigger pot can you chop some of the roots off and just repot into the same pot?
Can't answer the question, yipla, as I have never root pruned blueberries, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't treat them the same as any other shrub in this regard.
This could probably be safely done the same time as you are doing routine pruning of the top growth to remove spindly, weak growth or to thin the shrub out for better air circulation and light penetration and fruiting.
But, I haven't done it so... take the above for what it's worth.
Ok, thanks! I'll probably just try and see what happens when the time comes.
YES you could root prune.Remove from pot.use a bread knife and
cut like a peice of bread off your loaf!!form a square,maybe
cut an inch or two off,sawing straight through.Put some fresh
potting mix(on the acid side) around and tease roots into new
soil,trim top at the same time,water and your away.I read dont
feed with nitrate nitrogen as they dont like it,so urea would
be a good choice(feed with high nitrogen fert in spring and
autumn)Good luck.ps flowers of sulphur is good for making the
soil more acidic.good luck
I bought a single Blue Jay blueberry plant today at a local nursery. I have a several questions:
1. Should I have bought two of this particular variety for better pollination?
2. What size container would be good for a Blue Jay blueberry plant?
3. Is a plastic pot okay?
4. I live in Zone 6. Will the plant(s) be okay in the winter if I'm growing in a container?
5. I'm short of 'full sun' areas in my yard. How would this plant do in dappled shade?
6. Any suggestions for another variety I can grow so my berry harvest will be staggered? (a variety that would be good to eat right off the bush)
Hi Just Me,
I am not familiar with Blue Jay so I can't answer some of the questions, but in general you want at least 1 plant of 2 different varieties for best pollination. Not absolutely necessary though, particularly if you will be happy with a handful or two of berries and don't require heavy bearing plants. There are some varieties that do well without another plant nearby.
Plastic pots are fine. Pot size depends on the plant size. For a young (1-2) year old plant a 12" container is probably OK, just pay attention to how often it requires watering and repot when you find yourself having to water more frequently. Each early spring, before or just as the plant's buds swell remove it from the container and check the roots. If it's looking pot bound, pot up.
Overwintering in a container is tricky business. A lot depends on the cold hardiness of the shrub you have. If yours is rated as hardy to zone 3, it will likely overwinter in zone 6 in a pot. If yours is hardy to zone 6 then it's less likely to make it in a container over the winter. If you have an unheated garage or shed to store it in, that would work well. Alternately you can bury the container in the ground for the winter.
Full sun for blueberries is overrated. In the north full sun is pretty ideal, but in the south part shade, particularly in the mid day can be essential.
As far as variety recommendations I would point you to Raintree Nursery. Take a look at their offerings and recommendations. When in doubt send them an email or give them a call. Ask for someone who is knowledgeable with blueberries to give you a recommendation based upon your requirements.
Scanning around for info on Bluejay, it is generally listed as Zone 5 which would generally be okay in a container in Zone 6 but with an eye out for severe cold snaps where it might need some protection.
I've had 5 northern highbush varieties ("Patio"(2 bushes), "Bluecrop", "Nelson", and "Elliott") for between 8 - 12 years in their same containers. I usually remove the oldest woodiest canes each year and will encourage new fruiting canes that sprout from the roots. It's tricky some years when the blooms come out before the bees (especially if the temps are cool) and I'll get many bunches of flowers that don't get pollinated (I usually rely on the carpenter bees to do them up here). But I've done pretty well considering where they are situated. The varieties produce through the summer as they have slightly different fruiting times.
I just found this forum. It is an awesome resource!
I'm also trying to grow blueberries in containers. I'm going to use one those large black plastic containers that nurseries grow trees in - there is a place here in Berkeley that sells them used for a $1 or so depending upon the size. I was planning to use a 17" container, but after reading this thread, I may get something larger. The bush I have is the Berkeley variety. I bought it this spring and still have it in the original container. It has a handful of berries that are almost ripe.
I have three questions:
1. Is it advisable to transplant the bush during the summer after the berries ripen?
2. Are there any companion plants that I could also put in the container, possibly strawberries? This would offset taking up more space with a larger container.
3. Has anyone tried using a self-watering system with blueberries. I first learned about these after finding an earthbox at a yard sale. As an experiment, I've converted several 15" rounds into self watering containers. My veggies in these pots are doing well but I'm not sure how this will translate to a larger container with a shrub in it.
Thanks for taking the time to read my long winded question.
Hi Ed --
Where do you get those used containers in Berkeley? I would love some.
Does anyone know if you can grow blueberries in containers or otherwise in Las Vegas? I have friends visiting from there and they love that they can go out in my yard and graze on fresh berries.
I know this is a little off topic, but Rebecca, you mentioned strawberries in containers. I planted some last year. I don't remember the name. Only that they are an everbearing variety. They are growing, looking good. But no berries.
Anybody have any ideas or suggestions?
You have already received great advice. One addendum, I'm growing highbush blueberries in 20-inch diameter plastic containers for about five years. The production is great. The soil mix is compost/manure with a healthy dose of perlite and two to four inches of pine bark mulch. I fertilize with Miracid. The plants were purchased from a Maine supplier, Pine something. One bush is Patriot. I opted for bushes that grow vertically. Also, I only prune stems that look dead. Good luck!
I have a lowbush variety, bought from home depot, and usally dont get much fruit set. It produces many flowers but doesnt seem to get pollinated. I've read that you need atleast 2 plants so they can cross pollinate, but if there are no pollinaters around then it wouldnt matter anyways.
So I'm thinking of hand pollinating myself but not sure how to properly do it. Has anyone tried this before?
You need another bush, Momotaro. Don't worry about pollinators, they will come. It isn't just bees that do the job.
Never tried hand pollinating, haven't needed to. Seems really tedious given how many tiny flowers they produce.
i have a first year top hat in a container. no fruit this year but lots of good foliage. any ideas on how to overwinter it in zone 3
Yikes, that's tough - in an unheated garage under an overturned cardboard box (during really cold spells or when the door will remain open during extended cold) or buried against the foundation of a heated building out of wind & sun.
My husband picked up a couple of blueberry bushes from Costco last week, and they are already budding and flourishing in my window in the bag they came in which I'm keeping moist.
Since it's only February and we have already had a few winter storms Im hesitant to plant it outside yet. We picked up some large 24" terracotta pots from Home depot and some special soil and moss.
I was hoping that I might be able to plant them and keep them inside? I already have a grape bonzai plant that is supposed to fruit this year and I was hoping to have blueberries also. Below is the plant I have that are grapes.
Do you think that I could keep the blueberry plants easily inside the house? Also, my inlaws have some blueberry bushes- could I use a cutting from theirs to pollinate the bushes later?
Thanks for your help!
For future reference, if the plants were dormant/quiescent when purchased, it would have been better to keep them in the fridge until danger of serious frost was past and the plants could go outside. Alternately, you could have refrigerated until temps warmed enough so you could move them out on warmer days and inside during periods of chill. You could call the later the 'Blueberry Two-step. ;o)
I'm assuming only the roots are in the bag & the leaves are exposed, your intent is to plant them in a container, and you only intend to keep them indoors until outdoor conditions allow you to relocate them there?
If you intend to keep them indoors for now, you should pot them up and keep them in bright light. Humidity will likely be an issue. They won't like indoor conditions much, and it's likely some foliage loss due to cultural conditions, combined with the probability that o/a energy production vs consumption will not favor the plant, will have the plant working in large part from stored reserves. Hopefully, the fact that young plants are a high % of dynamic mass & resilient will carry you through until you can provide better cultural conditions.
Fertilizers that use urea or ammonium sulfate as the N source are best for blueberries in containers. A weak dose of a urea-based fertilizer (the MG products I've seen have been urea-based) while they're indoors will be helpful, but hold off on the fertilizer when you move them outdoors until mean temperatures are above 55*.
where do i find a grape bonzai plant? never seen them
Do a search using the words "wine grape bonsai" in that order and WITH the parenthesis as shown. Lots of sites will come up. They are difficult to keep in bounds because they shoot soo fast. I wouldn't suggest one unless you have some other bonsai experience under your belt, and don't expect it to look like the one in the picture. ;o)
I just purchased 4 young high bush varieties from Sam's club...2 Blue Ray and 2 Spartan. It will take me a while to get a bed ready for them so rather than leave them in the bags they are in I thought I would plant them out in containers so they can start growing. Also since they are still quite small the containers will be easier to see so they don't get stepped on which I have had happen in the past with other shrub saplings. I am in western NY so any advice will be greatly appreaciated.
I just started 2 blueberry plants this year. I leave in southwestern PA and the winters are fairly harsh. At first the plants looked awful, but came back well thru the summer. This winter I planned on keeping them in an unheated garage. Might that work ? If I do that, should I put a small amount of water on them weekly or bi weekly ?
Tophat from www.kvbwholesale.com - spring catalog.
Keep them in moderate sun and you should be fine.
Here is a link that might be useful: Little Giant Blueberry Plants
Is there anything wrong with using phosphoric acid as a pH down instead of citric acid or acetic acid? I want to make up a low pH stock solution of water to use on my blueberries when they need to be watered but if I use citric acid, the pH won't remain stable in the same way as if I were to use phosphoric acid. I also have nitric acid as an alternative if that's a more appropriate option. Any thoughts?
You can use either, sulfuric acid as well, but it may not be feasible if you have to add a considerable amount because you have to account for the effects of all the extra N and P.
I just found out about container gardening for blueberries but also read that having 3 plants with at least 2 different kinds helps production. I have read mixed reviews of top hat. I do want to get the Sunshine Blue as they seem to be highly recommended for containers what other variety would one recommend? Would the new pink Lemonade work in a 25" wine barrel? That is the biggest size I could find at our garden center and they don't have any dwarf so I would have to order online.
Suzette, if you can grow Sunshine Blue then you may be able to grow Bountiful Blue, another one that requires fewer chill hours. I recently bought two and put each one in a pot on both sides of Sunshine Blue.
Original poster back! The three blueberry plants I started in pots back in 2007 are all still alive. One highbush variety has been a bit slow to grow, but it produces berries every year. However, the other two dwarf varietes (Northsky and Chippewa) have grown to be nice sized bushes, but their berries never form! They get covered in flowers every year, but no berries. I don't know what's going on... any ideas? I wonder if they're having pollination problems? Anyone hand-pollinate? It's making me really sad =(
Here are pictures of my blueberries. The 7 yr old produce 15+ lbs per year each. None has ever been repotted.
Plant size I start with.
Sweetcrisp one year after above. This is the most crisp, sweetest, best eating blueberry by far.
Star harvest in front of Santa Fe. Both over 15 lbs fruit in year 7 never repotted.
Star after harvest and detailed pruning. I'll repot when needed but with plants like this in 15 gal pots no reason to now that I can see.
Those are pretty bushes, Fruitnut, especially the bottom picture--Just beautiful.
What size pot is a 15-gallon pot volume? How does one measure a dry gallon? What would be the diameter and depth of 15 gallons?
I read elsewhere on this site about how to acidify soil for BBs. I live in Hollywood Hills. My soil is extremely heavy clay. I planted 3 different varieties because I read that you want to plant them proximally with other varieties. they produced fruit weakly but grew (also weakly). Finally, I decided to uproot them and put them into pots (3 gallon with drain trays.) For soil, I used about 1/3 clay original soil plus 1/3 perlite plus 1/3 peat moss. They have already put out new leaves and new growth so I'm optimistic. I also use a foliar spray that consists of a 7-4-10 NPK plus some tomato and rose Miracle Grow for micronutrients. I water daily and they seem to drain and dry out in the summer sun. I am also under a coniferous tree that rains down needles regularly. They seem to like the new situation despite the trauma of 're-potting'.
Here is some great information on growing blueberries (even) in Central Texas. I'm in Austin.
If you're thinking about blueberries, just give them a go in some big containers; you'll be happy happy! I DO recommend the Rabbiteye and be sure to read what this article says about NO soil!
I grow blueberry in containers. My garden soil is very alkaline when I tested it it was 8-9. The Blueberry never done any good in this kind of soil. In containers I can control the Acidity to 5-5.50. The blueberry loves this kind of acidity. I use 10, 15, and 20 gallons containers. I put holes in the bottom and the lower sides of the containers to give the roots chance to travel in the garden soil if they choose. More importantly is the drainage because the earth is the best drainage you could ever have. Some one said when you put holes in the container and plant the container into earth the water thinks the container is far bigger than what it is and keep travelling down. Something has to do with the Capillary movement which is beyond my expertise.
If you're concerned about drainage in containers, then the best thing to do is to use a mix that drains well. It's a very well-discussed subject on this board.
My backyard with 5 blueberry containers in half circle around my contender peach tree.
Large plastic barrel cut into thirds, each holds about 18 gallons.
Barrel buried in my hard, left lip about 1.5 inches above the soil line so heavy rain doesnt wash dirt into peat mixture.
Mixture of 2 part peat, 1 part pine bark and 1 part pine needles.
Bluegold blueberry planted in new location, will be killing grass in that area and covering with wood chips when the rest are planted. Also added a handful of sulfur pellets, 4 cups of 'bunny pellet' fertilizer and 1 cup of bone meal to top 3 inches of peat mixture.
Update on progress Derek?
Probably none made it! Not the best soil mix for blueberries, and certainly the wrong fertilizer. The pine straw shoud have been used as mulch. Although it should not hurt. It may work, but i would use cottonseed meal for fertilizer. You don't want nitrates, and probably the rabbit manure is nitrate. So that is a major mistake. It can kill plants in high doses. Small amounts are fine. So as long as not too much was used.
I have 4 plants in pots. I purchased them this year. Here they are at the end of the first year. I will transplant to bigger pots in the spring.
Southmoon, Legacy, and Cara's Choice