Blueberries - Drainage, 5-1-1 Mix and Fertilizer Q's

Xeno057May 2, 2014

Hi everyone,

I've done some reading up on container blueberry planting. I am pretty new to gardening in general, so alot of it was an information overload. I have tried searching the forums for these answers, but have come up fruitless (hehe..)

So I have my Pine Bark Fines, Sphagnum Peat Moss, Perlite (fine, not course.. couldn't find coarse), fertilizer (Holly-tone by Espoma, 4-3-4), and two wide plastic containers.

I have two small blueberry plants. I would like to plant them today while I can, but the sun is going down on me fast. I'll be following the 5-1-1 mix.

My first question is regarding watering and drainage holes. These containers have no holes. Can someone point me in the right direction of how many 1/2" size holes I should be drilling? Is it "the more the merrier" or is there a point where too much is bad? Is drilling holes on the sides recommended? Should I be packing down the soil at a certain point, and leave it loose at a certain point? How much water should be applied after mixing and potting - enough so that some comes out of the drain holes?

My second question is regarding fertilizer. Do I add some from the get-go? How much should I add? I heard fertilizing during your weekly watering (~1 inch per week?) is a good idea. How much would I use per week? How exactly do you incorporate the fertilizer into the soil - just sprinkle it on top?

My last question is regarding mixing everything up. Do you guys have a good way of figuring out 5-1-1? Should I just fill up the container with each ingredient, eyeballing it, and then dump it out and mix? Should I use less perlite if it's fine as opposed to coarse?

Thank you! This is all new to me and I'm just trying to start on the right foot.


This post was edited by Xeno057 on Fri, May 2, 14 at 20:00

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Sounds like you are on the right track. In my experience, I'd probably start with something like 5-2-1, or 4-2-1. I just mixed up some yesterday, and went with 4-2-1 for additional water retention. With blueberries the extra water retention is needed. As far as the drain holes, more is not better. The same amount will drain through 5 holes as 10. Just put as many as you are comfortable with. Fertilizing, you will probably get many suggestions. Personally, I'd save the organics for the ground where it will break down properly. A controlled release chemical fertilizer like Miracle Gro shake and feed for vegetables is a good addition to the mix at the start. It has the micronutrients and calcium. I'd add 1 teaspoon per gallon of mix. Blueberries don't need much fertilizing. What size/how old are the plants and how big are your containers? A lot of us fertilize with ammonium sulfate as they begin to take off. You'll probably get more suggestions. Just my .02 for now. There are many many threads on growing blueberries in containers here and over on the fruits forum. Where are you?. Adding you Zone to your profile is helpful.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 12:03AM
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Thank you for the response! The blueberry plants are about 4 or 5 inches tall. The container is about 18 inches wide by 15 inches high.

Is the fertilizer I have not good for initial fertilization? I've read to give 3 feedings at 1 1/2 cup each (Feb, May, August). I've also read not to fertilize past August. My question would be - does this mean I would just combine 1 1/2 cup x 2 = 24oz.. Then divide that by X amount of weeks until Aug/Sept for my weekly fertilization?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 10:17AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

The fertilizer you have is organic, and would probably be best suited for the ground where it could break down properly. Container fertilization when using a soilless mix is a bit different ballgame. If you use a liquid or water soluble chemical fertilizer the nutrients will be available immediately to the plant. Since your plants are very small they don't need very much fertilizer at all anyway. You can add a little fertilizer to the mix at the start if you want, but it's really not necessary. If they were my plants I would probably mix a "little" Controlled Release Fertilizer (like MG Shake and Feed, which has all the nutrients,) to the mix at the beginning. Then, once the plants get establisked, I would give gentle weekly feedings of water soluble ammonium sulfate 21-0-0. Again, I suggest reading up on blueberry fertilization until you feel more comfortable with it. I can definitely relate to it being overwhelming at the beginning, but you will figure it out eventually. Your mix sounds good, now all you have to do is figure out the fertilizer part. It wouldn't hurt to just pot them up now, and add the fertilizer a little later. Where are you located? No fertilizer after August because the plants need to begin to go dormant rather than force new growth.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Ah OK. Does it hurt to use the organic feet? I have a whole bag. :-D maybe I'll just use it for something else. I live in NYC.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 4:30PM
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