I would like grow blueberries commercially in pots. (Northern Highbush). I have been told that Duke, Draper, Bluegold, Legacy are the most convenient ones for growing in containers… Can anyone share his or her experience? What other varieties of Northern Highbush would you recommend. And what about pink lemonade, have you encountered any problem in growing it in pots.
I have some blueberries in pots. But, not commercially. My intent was to plant them out and make mother plants and to root cuttings for propagation…but I’ve never gotten around to it. I have probably 15 in pots…some for 7 or more years. I never water them. And they don’t bear much fruit. They are in the shade of a building.
Bluegold and Sunshine blue are two that are somewhat dwarf naturally…I know they both work out ok in pots.
But I would suggest you’d need a good drip irrigation system for cropping for U-pick or larger scale.
Bluegold all ripen at once, so that might be good for commercial production.
The problems I encountered was winter itself. Regular Pots will crack badly, I use root pouches. Plus the roots are exposed to severe cold. Pink Lemonade is a scant producer without other rabbiteye cultivars. Best to stick with Northerns like Pink Popcorn. PL is a mix of northern and rabbiteye.
Legacy is a huge plant, I put mine in the ground.
I agree with Drew on this. I’ve used root pouches with about 10 blueberry plants (a bunch of different varieties, I’m not sure what they all are at this point) and they produce just as well as my in-ground plants. I haven’t noticed any issues with die-back and we get below -10 most years.
This one does very well for me in a pot.
Keep an eye on the ph. I use a lot of pine wood chips.
Both ways! I killed a couple plants because I put sulfur in them. I checked the pH and it was near 3.0. If you use Holly-tone, or Ammonium sulfate you’re adding acidity to the mix. If pH starts to become low, I start watering with tap water which is about 8.0 and has some carbonates. I usually use rainwater. Peat and pine have a pH of 5.0 so you don’t need to adjust pH, it’s at a good point as is. Their are fertilizers that don’t lower pH but are for acid loving plants such as Miracle Grow, for acid loving plants. It uses Urea which is only slightly acidic. Urea nitrogen is fine for blueberries.
I make a mix of pine bark fines, peat moss, and perlite sized diatomaceous earth. In a ratio of 3-2-1/3. DE is slightly basic, but you’re not using much. It is not necessary but in root pouches they dry quickly and this helps maintain moisture and drainage too. Many studies show it is an excellent soil amendment. Holds 120% of it’s weight in water, contains silicon a necessary micro nutrient used in cell walls. It holds more water than calcined clay, pumice or lava rock. I get it at O’Reily’s auto parts as Optisorb floor dry. 100% DE, also Napa makes various different products but one Napa floor dry is 100% DE.
In a commercial setting you may be able to buy bulk, and even horticultural DE Except for one company DE for plants is only sold wholesale. I would buy a bag and have a few test plants, to see if they do better or not before I would add it to all. I use it for all plants myself in containers.
The reason for my mix is at one time I saw a study on growing blueberries and they grow fine in straight pine or straight peat, but the most growth was seen in a mix of 3-2 pine to peat. So that is what i use.
I’ve grown your four varieties listed and still have a Draper and Legacy.The other two were given away.
Duke is very popular,but to me,the flavor is too mild.Legacy is very good and yes,as Drew wrote,they do get big.Draper’s berries ripen mostly all at once.From what I remember about Bluegold,the flavor was good.I think that one is referred to sometimes as “the mortgage lifter”.
My favorite NH now though,is Spartan.
All my Blueberries are in containers except for one. bb
This is a good one, thank you for the plant! It’s doing really well. It’s early, and the berries are excellent. Even if not fully ripe. Most plants I have found need berries to be fully ripe. My oldest is Chandler and Liberty. Liberty is OK, not the best berry but not bad either. It produces like crazy, more than any others. So a keeper for me. Chandler seems to get better and better with age. It is not the best producer. I heard it responds well to pruning to keep up fruit production. So I have been hacking it good.
My favorite is Cara’s Choice small plant, beautiful leaves. Not easy to grow, scant production, hardly any so far. but the berries are more complex than any others in taste. Very rich,. I’m moving it to another container to try and get better production and growth. Yeah slow to grow, barely hardy here, as it’s not 100% NH. A tough one to grow. I’m into gourmet berries and it produces them so I’m keeping it.
No tapwater isn’t typically 8.0 pH…but some probably is.
I seemed to consistently overstate soil ph with a home color test using droplets, was at 3.8 when I had it tested at UMass. Soil chemistry was kind of a constant juggling act. I’d spend some cash on a good testing regime.
Not worth it for a few home plants in containers. The large (20-25 gallon) fabric pots were adequately sized and seem durable.
Just a quick reply. I tried growing blueberries in pots for the last three years. I have had a 50% loss with growing them in pot, so far. the winters are pretty tough here though.
Our tapwater here is 8+, they pump it out of aquifers in the limestone. I had to use sulfuric acid to get the pH down back when I used to grow blueberries.
As much as I don’t like suggesting trademarked blueberries you could try Jellybean, it’s a naturally dwarfed blueberry.
I’ve seen Jellybean blue berry at Lowe’s lately. How do they taste?
I think those ornamental types are great for such use, if you want a very good edible landscaping type garden. Some of the berries I heard were decent, some not so much. Their are 5 or 6 of them now. Regular blueberries do fine in pots. Many tend to be compact, but even the monster plants do fine in containers.
So, if I can grow blueberries in a pot could it be taken out after it goes dormant and stored in a cooler in damp peat, then replanted in the spring? Or would it be better to store the whole pot. Why I ask is because of the space restrictions of the pot.
How big of a root pouch per plant?
what do you think one can do against the cold. there seems to be options like to bring the pots to an unheated storage area during dormancy and using some kind of insulation material around the pots or may be burying them into the ground. it is easier sort it out if it is a small scale garden. however in a commercial scale application using an effective insulation material with a reasonable price seems to be a more practical solution. what do you think?
In zone 6 it’s not a problem if they spend the winter in a pot outdoors. Frost heave or too much water would be about the only potential problems outdoors in winter. Now, if we’re talking Canadian Winters…I have no idea.
I bought Northsky and Tophat thinking they would make great container plants. Does anyone else have experience with them? I figured they can live together on the future deck and be good grazing in the summer along with a few potted figs.
I’ve not tried either…but should be ok for pots if you get the soil right…
drainage, moisture, and 5 to 6 pH
I am planning on using a base of spruce chips, diatomaceous earth chips, and probably peat moss instead of my (now standard) coconut coir but I might keep a bit of coir in the mix for moisture retention.
In addition I will be adding Fe, Mn, and gypsum as @TurkeyCreekTrees shared in this article.
I have access to pH probes at work and can grab free acid mine drainage to water with occasionally if I need more acidic conditions (I’ll dilute as needed). This SHOULD give just about ideal conditions based on the reading I’ve done.
I’m not sure what else other than hollytone could be beneficial. If anyone has suggestions please share, I’ll be happy to learn!