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Washington State University Extension

Garden Tips

GROWING BLUEBERRIES IN POTS

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published 3/28/14

Spring is here! I was worried that the winter cold may have killed the two raspberry plants I planted in wine barrels last spring, but throughout the containers new little sprouts are starting to break the soil surface. Yea!

They are both >Raspberry ShortcakeJ= plants, the first thornless dwarf raspberry marketed to gardeners for growing in containers. They come from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who is right in step with two new gardening trends, growing berries and growing food in container gardens.

Fall Creek=s mission is to develop Anew berry varieties specifically for home gardeners.@ Their breeders are looking for berries that are easy to grow, have exceptional ornamental value, and produce lots of good tasting fruit. They want to transform berry gardening and have registered the name of BrazelBerries7 for their line of home garden berries.

This year I want to add blueberries to my berry garden. Fall Creek offers three different blueberry cultivars for gardeners. I usually don=t recommend growing blueberries in local gardens because most home garden soils are very alkaline (with a pH of 8 or above) and low in organic matter. Blueberries only do well when grown in acid (with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5) soil that is fairly high in organic matter. This is not a problem if you grow them in pots with a potting mix.

While Fall Creek offers three different blueberry cultivars, my choice is >Jelly BeanJ.= Jelly Bean is the most cold hardy (USDA Zones 4 to 8) of the three and has the largest berries. It is a little Apuffball of a plant@ growing to a height and width of only 1 to 2 feet, perfect for a barrel planting.

Despite being a compact dwarf bush, Jelly Bean reportedly yields plenty of large, tasty sweet berries in the middle of summer. But it is not just about the berries, the spherical mounded plant can be very ornamental with bright green leaves in spring that turn darker green in summer and then red in late summer and fall. How pretty!

I will be placing my blueberry plant in a barrel planter with a number of large holes in the bottom for good drainage. Fall Creek recommends growing their blueberries in sizable pots of 16 inches or more in diameter. When planting berries or veggies in containers I advise using a quality potting mix that drains well. A mix that is predominantly peat moss or coconut coir mixed with compost, pumice, and perlite works well.

Once planted, Fall Creek recommends that your blueberry plants be located in full sun. However, our summer heat and sun is so extreme, a site where they will get some shade late in the day would probably be a good idea. Keep the soil consistently moist because blueberries are not tolerant of drought or excess moisture. Fertilize the plants once a year in early spring with a fertilizer recommended for acid loving plants.

The plants should be pruned in late winter or early spring while still dormant, removing the canes that fruited the year before. That=s because Jelly Bean and the other two blueberries (Peach Sorbet and Blueberry Glaze) produce new canes each year, but will only produce fruit on the canes that grew the previous year.

Iam excited to add to my berry collection and hope to be eating raspberries and blueberries from my patio plants by the middle of summer. It will be berry fun!

Published: 3/28/2014 1:08 PM

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