A Quick 8 Steps to Growing Blueberries in a Container Now

Fresh, tasty and good-for-you blueberries can be right at your fingertips for most of the summer months when you grow your own blueberry bushes. The compact, easy-care fruit producing bushes are easy to plant and grow, even if you have no outdoor land space.

The small size of the bushes when mature, plus the small sized fruit, make growing a blueberry bush in a container a simple and rewarding venture, even for someone who has never gardened before. Follow these guidelines for planting and growing a blueberry bush in a container.

1.  Container Size

A blueberry bush produces shallow roots that spread out horizontally. A large container that is at least two feet across will be perfect to start your new bush out in.

As the bush ages and matures, it will need to be transplanted into a larger container, such as half a barrel, to accommodate its expanding root system.

2. Prepare Soil

Blueberry bushes grow best in acidic soil. Fill container half full of acidic planting soil mix that is recommended for growing azaleas.

Fill the remainder of the container with half compost and half peat moss, leaving four inches of head space at the top of the container.

Combine all three ingredients thoroughly, then make a shallow planting hole in the center of the soil that is deep enough to accommodate most of the bush’s roots.

3. Select Bush

There are many varieties of blueberry bushes to select from, with varying mature sizes and berry harvest time.

Regardless of the variety you select, two bushes will be needed for cross pollination. For the longest harvest, select blueberry varieties that produce ripe berries at different times of the season so you can enjoy fresh blueberries longer.

The age of the bush will also factor into how soon you will have fresh blueberries. If you start with a bush that is 2-3 years old, you will be eating fresh blueberries that same year.

Resource: Blueberry Varieties

4. Planting

Carefully remove blueberry bush from its purchase container by cutting the container away with a utility knife.

Try to keep all the soil intact around the roots and place it in the prepared planting hole. Gently press the roots into the soil and add two inches of planting soil mix on top of the roots, firm soil and water well.

All of the blueberry bush’s roots need to be covered by planting soil, but not buried deep into the soil. Fill the remaining space on top of the planting soil with organic mulch that is acidic, like pine straw or pine bark.

5. Location

Now that the bush is planted in its growing container, it needs the right location to help it grow.

Choose a sunny location in which to set the container, one in which the bush will receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

While the bush loves sunshine, it will also benefit from a shady reprieve from direct afternoon sun in mid-summer.

Using a container that has wheels will make it mobile and easy to move in and out of the sun as needed or the container can be placed on the east side of a building or fence so the bush will have afternoon shade.

6. Water

Blueberry bushes love consistently damp, cool soil, that’s why you often find them growing in the wild near the edge of a tree line in a dense pine forest.

The dappled sunlight, cool, moist soil that contains acid from the decomposing pine needles is the ideal home for native blueberries.

Keep the soil moist, but never soggy wet. Make sure the planting container has sufficient drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to run quickly out the bottom and away from plant roots.

The layer of acidic mulch on top of the soil will help keep the soil cool and retain moisture in addition to adding nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

7. Fertilizing

Feed the blueberry bush a dose of cottonseed meal or blood meal once a year in the early spring.

Follow that yearly feeding up with a twice a month feeding with a water-soluble plant food that is high in acidity.

Stop fertilizing when blueberries begin to turn from green to blue.

8. Harvesting

When a 2-3-year-old bush is planted and all its needs met, you should be harvesting ripe blueberries within five months. The berries are ready when they turn a deep blue color and turn loose of the bush easily when pulled.

Be aware that birds enjoy tasty blueberries and have been waiting patiently for them to ripen.

Prevent birds from eating all of your fresh blueberries by placing fabric netting over the bushes as soon as the berries appear. Black fabric netting seems to be the color that works best as a berry protecting bird repellent.