Blueberry bushes don’t have to grow in in-ground gardens. They can be a beautiful, showy addition in a pot in any size garden – big or small.
Table of Contents
Can You Grow Blueberries in a Pot?
Blueberries are always a great addition to a garden. They have the cutest bell-shaped flowers in the spring, and they have bright, fiery red leaves in the fall. There are a lot of vegetables and fruits that you can grow in pots. Blueberries are one of those fruits. I’ll be providing tips on how to grow blueberries in a pot. Blueberries can last for years, but only if you do careful preparation to get them set up properly. The right container size, fertilizer, and other growing conditions will be key to successfully growing them.
A couple of things to keep in mind: blueberries can self-pollinate, but they have much better yield of fruit when you have multiple plants for cross-pollination. A blueberry plant should be planted with other varieties that have overlapping bloom times. Growing fruit is also a long term commitment. You may not get any fruit for the first few years. Patience will be key.
What Season is the Right Time to Start with Blueberries
When to plant blueberries depends on your climate. Usually blueberries can be planted in containers in either the spring or fall. In colder climates, plant blueberries in the spring.
Types of Blueberry Bush to Plant in a Pot
There are many different varieties of blueberry bushes. Selecting the right one for your climate is important. You’ll be wanting to look out for the following names on plant tags: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high, and rabbiteye.
Highbush are just as they sound. They are a tall type of blueberry that can grow up to 8 feet tall. They are the most well-known type of blueberry and most commonly sold blueberries in stores for their large fruit. Highbush are further divided into a northern type and a southern type.
- Northern varieties grow in zones 4 to 8, but may also grow in zone 3.
- Southern types grow in zones 5 to 8. Southern highbush don’t tolerate the cold well and are suitable for a Mediterranean type climate or warmer climates.
Lowbush is a hardier and shorter in comparison to a highbush. They have an appearance more similar to a shrub. They have sweet fruit and are native to the New England area, but grow well in zones 4 to 7. They only grow two feet tall and two feet wide.
A lowbush may be more suitable due to its smaller stature in comparison to the other types of blueberries.
A hybrid half-high is a crossbreed of high and low bushes. They’re bred to produce fruit at different times of the year: early, midseason, or late. Their tolerance for temperatures is somewhere in between a high and low bush. They reach a height of 2 to 4 feet, making them another good option for potting blueberry bushes. They are self-pollinating like most blueberry varieties, but will produce better yield of fruit if there is more than one plant for cross-pollination.
Rabbiteye blueberries are native to the southeastern part of the United States. They can grow up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. This type of blueberry bush wouldn’t be suitable for pots if you’re trying to grow in a small area.
Overall, opt for small bush varieties when you are planting in a small area. Remember, the bigger the plant, the bigger the pot will have to be.
Where to Plant Your Potted Blueberry Bush
Have the location selected prior to transferring the blueberry bush to its new home in its pot. Blueberry bushes need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. Check on your property where you have the most sun exposure. It should be a spot that is sheltered for the winter months. The plants do not like cold winds. Blueberries do not like overly dry climates.
How to Plant Blueberries in a Pot
Properly preparing to transplant your blueberry bush into a pot or container is crucial. Here’s what you’ll need:
Large Deep Pot
At minimum, you’ll need a pot that’s at least 18 inches deep. You may eventually have to transfer it to another pot in the future. Plant only 1 blueberry bush per pot. Plant the blueberry bush as deep as the soil from the container it came in from the nursery. Be sure the pot or container has a hole at the bottom for proper drainage.
Quality Potting Soil Mix
As with any planting in a pot, a good quality potting soil should be used. Don’t use soil from your garden! The soil from the ground in your yard isn’t suitable for pots and containers. Using soil from your yard will cause compaction, and will eventually result in a soggy mess. The soil needs to be light and loose so it can properly drain, but also keep the appropriate moisture. Blueberries like very acidic soil with a pH between 4.0 and 4.8.
Compost or Worm Castings
It’s a good idea to consider mixing into your potting mix a quality compost or worm castings. The compost adds organic material into the soil. Worm castings improve soil structure, aerates soil, provides beneficial nutrients to plants, and can even ward off garden pests like aphids.
Pots and containers can rapidly dry out. Mulch can help the soil in the pot to retain moisture. Pine chips or straw are good options.
Caring for Blueberries in a Pot
If you just planted a blueberry bush, don’t fertilize at the time of planting. Wait one month before applying the fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer on a yearly basis in the spring. I use an all natural fertilizer by Down to Earth. It contains potash, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and humic acids. It can also be used on raspberries, azaleas, hydrangeas, and other plants.
Blueberry bushes don’t have deep roots. Between the soil in the pot drying out quick and the shallow roots of the plant, they’re going to need a lot of water.
With new plantings, you may not need to prune them for a couple of years. However, in late winter or after the winter in early spring, inspect the plant for any unhealthy or dead branches. By pruning and cleaning up the plant, it can continue to focus its energy on current and new growth.
Overwintering Blueberries in a Pot
Pots become colder than in-ground gardens do, so you may want to give the plant some added protection. Cover the soil in straw or wrap the plant in burlap. Since blueberry bushes go dormant during the winter, you won’t have to water them.