Blueberries. These small little berries are packed with flavor and nutrients. I love snacking on them or adding them to my muffin mix. Other people add blueberries to their pancake batter or toss some in to their cereal bowl. As good as these berries are, they can be very expensive at the grocery store. Instead of buying them, why not put that money toward having your own blueberry tree. This will save you a lot of money through the seasons and you can eat as many as you want.
Blueberries belong to the Ericaceae family. There are several different varieties to choose from and they will produce fruit at different times. Depending on the variety, blueberry bushes are hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones three through 10.
You can plant blueberry shrubs directly in the ground, but because they require a more acid soil, more people are growing them in pots or containers. The advantage of growing them in a pot is you can control the acid content. Blueberry plants thrive in a rich soil that has a pH level of 4.5 and 5.0. When shopping for a blueberry bush, find one that is recommended for container growing. If the tag does not tell you, ask one of the professionals at the nursery. Also, look for a blueberry that is self-pollinating, otherwise you will need to buy at least two blueberry bushes.
It is a good idea to buy several varieties so they cross-pollinate. Choose one bush that will produce fruit early in the season, buy another one that fruits in the middle of the season and another late season producer. This will provide you with blueberries from spring to the fall.
Find the right sized pot with drainage holes to grow your blueberry. The size pot depends on the how big your blueberry bush is when you buy it. If the pot is one gallon or less, choose a 2 to 5 gallon container. Blueberries growing in a 2 to 5 gallon container needs to be transplanted in a 16 to 20 inch container. A whiskey barrel works well to grow your blueberry. Before you fill the pot with soil, place it on a platform with wheels. This makes it easier if you want to move it around. Pots filled with soil is heavy, especially if the pot is made of clay.
Filling the Pots
Cover the drainage holes with shard and fill the pot 1/3 full with special mix potting soil. According to the website Dave Wilson Nursery, the proper soil mix to grow your blueberries is a mixture of equal amounts of 1/4 inch pathway bark, peat moss, azalea potting soil. Add one handful of soil sulfur per plant.
Remove the blueberry from its container, being careful not to break the rootball. Loosen the soil around the outside of the rootball. If you see any roots growing, gently tease them away with your fingers. Place the rootball of the blueberry bush in the pot. Check to make sure the plant is in the center of the pot. The top of the rootball should be 2 to 4 inches below the rim of the container. Fill in around the root ball with soil, tamping the soil lightly as you go. Do not bury the root system any deeper than it was originally growing, or it will rot.
Water and Fertilizer
Water the blueberry bush thoroughly. Keep the soil moist at all times during the growing season, but not soggy. You can apply a layer of mulch over the top of the soil to help conserve moisture. The root system of a blueberry is shallow.
Feed the blueberry bush with an acid-based fertilizer once a month, during the active growing seasons.
It can take several years before your blueberry shrub will produce berries. You will need patience while you wait.
Not only do people love eating blueberries, the birds do too. You’ll want to protect your berries by draping a net over the bush. Cover the bush about two weeks before the berries ripen.
If you live in an area where the winters are cold, move the blueberry shrub in to a protected area like a garage or shed. Wrap them in burlap or mulch them in straw. Through the winter months, add a little water to the soil to keep the plant from totally drying out. About a cup of water is enough.
Dave Wilson Nursery: Blueberries in Containers
HGTV: Tips on Growing Great Blueberries
Back Yard Berry Plants: Certified Organic Blueberry Plants/Bushes
Blueberry Croft: Growing Blueberries in Containers