Blueberries

When You Need A Portable Fruit Tree

I rent a townhouse with a tiny fenced in back yard. That means that any of the raised beds I add and any of plants I grow need to be semi-portable.

Knowing this… I somehow still set my sights on fruit trees. 

When it comes to fruit or berry producing trees, you don’t plant a seed and get fruit the same year. It takes some time, often several years to go from seed to fruit production. Knowing this, I’ve gotten a little impatient. That means I need to have trees in the ground now! Or, at least soon.

So, when I was walking through the nursery section at my local hardware store, a decent sized blueberry bush, with quite a few tiny un-ripe berries caught my eye. I did a little bit of ooo-ing and ahh-ing, and I pointed it out to Jacob. (I even took the picture below, because I was a little in love with it).

I parted ways, though, and off we went (to another nursery actually.) While Jacob drove to our next stop, I did a quick google search about growing blueberries.

That’s when I learned that you can grow blueberry bushes in containers! What great news!

In fact, some people that have plenty of ground space choose to grow blueberries in containers. That’s because blueberries grow best in a really acidic soil. It’s not easy to significantly change the pH level of a large amount of land, but if you grow the bush in a container, you can easily augment the pH.

In the 10 minute drive from the hardware store to the nursery, I was sold. Luckily for me, the nursery also had several types of blueberry bushes to choose from. I began googling again, to learn about the different choices, and ended up picking the Jubilee berry (everyone online had only nice things to say about its taste).

Once we were back in the car I started researching about planting and growing blueberries. I quickly realized that for best results, you need at least two varieties of blueberries. 

This helps with cross-pollination, extending the growing season, and with producing higher yields.

Shoot. 

Back to the hardware store we went to grab another huge plastic container, and to grab the blueberry bush that originally caught my eye (yes!)

Interestingly, the original blueberry bush wasn’t marked, and no one could tell me which type it was. However, the leaves were a different shape and the unripe berries were a different color, so I felt confident that it was not the same as my recently acquired Jubilee bush, and would do the trick.

I excitedly took the picture below from the front seat of my car to send to a friend, with a text that said something like “OH MY GOSH I LOVE MY NEW BLUEBERRY BUSHES” or something equally as enthusiastic.

I also picked up a sulfur based organic fertilizer that acts as a soil acidifier to make sure that I started the plants in an acidic soil so that they would thrive.

The Planting Process

  1. Choose your spot, blueberries bushes need full sun (at least 6 hours of sun, but 8-10 is better)
  2. Choose your container, the bigger the better
  3. Mix your soil acidifier with high quality soil (follow the ratio on the bag)
  4. Fill the container part of the way with your mixture
  5. Gently remove the blueberry bush from its small pot, and transfer it to the new container
  6. You want to give the roots plenty of room to grow down. That means that the top of the soil plug, should be about even with the top of the new container. (You may have to fill the container a good deal of soil to make sure that the root ball sits high enough in the pot.)
  7. Finish filling the pot with soil, making sure the trunk of the bush sits straight in the pot. 
  8. Add 2-4 inches of mulch on top of the soil. This keeps moisture in, weeds out, slowly breaks down to add organic matter to the soil, and helps the acid levels. I used pine bark mulch, but many people use different types of mulch, or even sawdust or straw.
  9. Then, keep the soil moist, but not drenched, and wait.
  10. Be patient! Wait to harvest until your berries are fully ripe (this will likely happen in waves).

My Jubilee blueberries have started ripening, and they are definitely worth the wait!

4 Comments

  1. Wow, I envy you… I bought a blueberry online and it came in the form of two sticks 😀 After a couple of months I have ONE branch with some leaves on it… I’m pretty sure there are no blueberries in my immediate future, no matter how much I try to give it all the conditions to grow. But there is always next year!

    1. Patience! They’ll be worth the wait. And you’ll have been able to watch the process start to finish 🙂

  2. I love blueberries, but my climate is not really conducive to growing them easily. Too hot and dry. Definitely need to have them in pots and under some sort of cover to take the edge off the sun’s rays. The variety that they seem to sell here in South Africa is called a Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). They seem more able to tolerate higher temperatures. Might still get a plant at some stage (or two preferably for improved pollination as you suggest). Enjoyed reading this.

    1. Hi Alexander! It’s good to be aware of your climate rather than setting yourself up for disappointment. I wonder how other gardeners in your area make the highbush varieties work. Fingers crossed for you when you give it a try!

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