Saturday, 21 December 2013

GROWING BLUEBERRIES IN CONTAINERS

I have never come across another fruit plant that actually takes to confined life in a pot quite like the blueberry bush. Even if you have the perfect garden soil required for any member of the Blueberry family the crops enjoyed from container grown specimens seems greater, plumper and more profuse than those grown in the ground! This is just as well because Blueberries do of course need an acid/ericaceous soil, which isn’t something all of us have.
The size of pot is relatively important; of course it needs to be big enough but don’t go made and be over generous because for one thing the unused compost will go stale, and for another you may lose the benefit of a contained root system which seems to encourage free fruiting. A 20” or maybe a 24” pot should be ample. Make sure it is well drained with crocks and set it an inch or two off of the floor. Material isn’t important; nice authentic clay pots look good but are expensive. Plastic or resin is fine.
Make sure you buy a good ericaceous or acid compost. Plant the Blueberry bush as you would if it were in the garden, with the root ball just below the surface of the compost. The compost should finish up an inch or so lower than the level of the container so that when you water it doesn’t overpsill on the floor. Firm well, water well and make sure you keep watering throughout the growing season, daily if it is hot or dry, or every other day if it cooler.
Feeding can take the form of sequestrine.
Blueberries do not usually require or benefit from pruning but you can reduce long canes by a third after fruiting, if desired, and remove dead or diseased wood on older specimens as necessary.
A lone Blueberry bush will yield some fruit but for best results plant in pairs of different varieties for cross pollination. Bluecrop, Herbert, Goldtraube, Jersey and Coville are all good varieties and there is also a compact variety called Top Hat that is worth seeking out. Or you may wish to try the newer varieties with extra large fruits such as Chandler and Polaris.
The Autumn foliage colours on Blueberries, and the pretty Spring flowers, make these very ornamental shrubs to grow too. Absolutely ideal for the patio!

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