Blueberries can be grown in a container

2022-06-15 13:40:12 By : Mr. Anthony Lee

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Did you know blueberries are a superfood, high in vitamins and minerals? In fact, they provide antioxidants that help protect your body from heart disease and cancer, decrease inflammation and boost your immune system. They are delicious, low in calories and high in fiber.

Best yet, you can grow blueberries in a container on your own property. In fact, in most of the Bay Area, you must grow in containers because our clay soil doesn’t support blueberries. This perennial requires acidic soil, good sunlight and attention to watering. Here is the caveat: you must be patient. The first years will not be highly productive. All good things take time!

What type of blueberry plant should you purchase? Some varieties do better than other in our micro climates. Ask your neighborhood nursery owner, or your friends, if they’re having success.

You can plant plugs in the spring or consider purchase of a 1-year-old plant. Planting two different varieties side by side in separate containers will allow for cross-pollination and better yield. (Determine if they will bloom at the same time.)

Containers must be well-draining, weather-proof and at least 24-30 inches wide and 24 inches deep for a mature plant. If you begin with a plug, you can go smaller but would repot as the plant grows larger. Wooden barrel planters are often used for blueberry plants.

Potting soil must be acidic based to allow for water and nutrient absorption. Ph of 4.5 to 5.0. must be maintained. Soil used for rhododendron or azaleas should meet the acid requirement. Mix the soil 50-50 with peat moss. As the shrub ages, replace 1/3 of the soil with fresh acidic potting soil every two to three years. A single dose of organic fertilizer is advisable in the spring.

Six to eight hours of sunlight is required but protect from afternoon sun if necessary. Mulching with wood chips such as pine bark will help retain moisture. Keep a small ring of space around the base of the plant for air circulation and to avoid fungus.

Blueberry plants are short-rooted and require at least 1 inch of water per week. The plant prefers evenly moist soil.

A single dose of organic fertilizer is advised in the spring. Do not use nitrates or chlorides. For the first few years, remove flower buds in the spring so that all energy is directed to the. roots. Prune mature shrub dead branches in late February or early March.

Birds would love to eat your berries, so you’d better cover the fruit with netting. To protect from winter cold, apply 2 inches of mulch, wrap the container in burlap and move to a sheltered area. Periodically, check that the shrub does not dry out completely over winter.

Last, but not least, enjoy your harvest of home-grown blueberries.

Elizabeth Farrell is a Penn State Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Berks County,

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