Blueberries are easy to grow, highly productive, and are wonderful ornamental plants. They produce beautiful flowers in spring, juicy fruits in summer, dazzling fall foliage, and colorful winter branches. (See our 4 "Ps" below for tips on growing). New varieties have been bred to be container-happy. Some will bear loads of fruit in zones with fewer chill hours (typically zones 8-11). Another innovation is that they’re self-pollinating, so you don’t need to plant two different selections to get fruit. Even those without the naturally acidic soil that blueberries love can grow these plants. This is because you're planting them in containers and can provide for all their needs. Fill your larger containers with these compact shrubs, and place them for easy picking. Open back door, pluck handful of ripe, sweet berries, apply to cereal bowl.
Four "Ps" for Container Success
- At least six hours of direct sun each day.
- Plant in organic acid soil mix (bagged for azaleas and hydrangeas).
- Apply organic fertilizer for acid plants in early spring or when planting.
- Water deeply and regularly as needed ( in warm months, this can be daily).
- Mulch with acid-producers such as pine needles, pine bark, true cypress.
- Prune in late winter or early spring.
- Remove damaged, old, or dead stems. Don't be afraid to clip out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush.
- Watch carefully to make sure you pick before the birds do.
- If birds are a problem, cover pots with netting. Good news here is that birds are less likely to go after fruit in pots on patios.
- In coldest regions, move pots into an unheated garage or sheltered spot. Cover soil with a deep layer of mulch or swath entire plant in burlap or a blanket.
- Bring outside in spring when the threat of frost has passed.
Lead image courtesy of Fall Creek Farm