Grow Blueberries: In Pots + Ground
Growing Blueberries - Facts
November to February
July to September
60 – 70 F
1/4 inch deep
at least 1m
4 hours but ideally 3/4 of the day, partial shade in the afternoon
North to south
5.5 or lower
High in Nutrients, antioxidants, protects against aging and cancer, lower blood pressure
Seven Steps to Growing Blueberries
Growing blueberries in pots at home is easy along with growing them in the ground, just follow these steps.
Blueberries are a delicious late-summer and autumn treat, and the autumn colours the plants produce look great in any garden. Blueberries can be grown as attractive container plants or as border plants, and are easy to care for.
Blueberries can yield a large harvest if cared for correctly, and they are low in calories but high in antioxidants, making them a healthy choice as well. If you have just a few blueberry plants, you can easily harvest enough blueberries to last you several months.
Blueberries require a moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Loam is best. If your soil is alkaline, or if there is a high clay content, your blueberries may thrive better in pots. In garden soil, adding plenty of organic matter to create bulk will help. Acidic matter is best for this to avoid creating an alkaline pH.
You can add things like pine needles and mulch, but avoid manure which is much too rich and acidic for blueberries to thrive in. Mulch helps avoid water fluctuations in the soil, which helps keep the environment moist but not soggy.
Adjusting the pH
Blueberries are very sensitive to soil acidity. If the soil is too alkaline, they will not grow well. You can easily measure the pH of your soil in spring using a home testing kit you can purchase at most garden centres.
You want the pH of your soil to be under pH 5.5. If your soil pH is only a little higher than this, you can easily correct this by adding sulphur chips in advance of planting, but if your soil pH is much higher, you should plant your blueberries in a container instead.
Sourcing blueberry seeds
Growing blueberries from seeds is a long process and many people prefer to purchase larger cultivars from a garden centre or farmer. However, if you do want to attempt growing blueberries from seeds, you can purchase seeds from a garden centre or online.
It is more difficult to use seeds from blueberries themselves, as blueberry cultivars do not cross-pollinate and not all will be viable. If you do want your own seeds, simply separate the seeds from the fruit and freeze for 90 days as the cold stratification is important for breaking the seeds’ rest period.
Germination in seed trays
Seeds can then be planted in seed trays with sphagnum peat moss and covered with about 1/4 inch of soil. It can take up to 4 months for the seeds to germinate. Keep them moist and in a warm and sunny area. It can take up to a year for your seedlings to reach 4-6 inches.
If you have purchased blueberry cultivars, or if your seedlings are big enough to transplant, you can move them into your garden. Plant them at least 1m apart, and be patient as growing plants might take a few years until they bear fruit.
Make sure to plant your blueberries in a bright spot with sufficient water but good drainage, as blueberry cultivars are shallow rooted and need regular access to water without becoming over-saturated. Blueberries can produce a good crop if planted on their own, but planting in the vicinity of different cultivars can increase the yield. Most garden centres will sell a variety of cultivars.
Planting in Pots
If you are choosing to plant your blueberries in pots, make sure they are big enough. A full grown cultivar will likely need a pot of around 45-50cm in diameter. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to avoid the soil from retaining too much water.
Blueberries are likely to require little watering, unless there is less than an inch of rainfall per 10 days. If the soil gets very dry, you can give the plant a thorough soaking. It is best to use rainwater unless you have no other choice, as that is more acidic. Using tap water can in some cases create a too alkaline environment.
Blueberries do not require much fertiliser, and are sensitive to high levels. Therefore, you do not need to feed them regularly.
Birds and insects can cause damage to your cultivars. The most reliable form of protection is covering your plants with netting or horticultural fleece. Colonies of greenfly can also cause damage to the plants and encourage the growth of mould. You can remove aphid colonies with your fingers by squashing them.
Mildew can appear as a white powdery deposit on the leaf surface, causing the leaves to shrivel and become stunted. This can be alleviated by growing your plants in cooler locations and keeping the soil moist.
From mid-summer onwards, blueberries start to ripen and turn from green to blue. Once they are completely blue, the can be harvested. Not all berries ripen at the same time, so you will need to harvest at different times for the maximum yield.
Blueberries can be eaten fresh, frozen for future use or preserved in multiple forms.
Freezing blueberries is easy as you simply place them in a suitable container and place them in the freezer.
Jams and other preserves are very popular and a good way of making use of a large number of blueberries. However, these often tend to be high in sugar which reduces the health benefits.
Making jams also requires the time and cooking equipment to do so, but the process is easy and outlined in any good good book or online. Jams and preserves not only last a long time for your family but they make great gifts for your family and friends.
Cooking and Baking
Blueberries are popular in cakes, pies and other deserts but can also be used as to accompany roasts or burgers. Many of these recipes can use fresh or frozen blueberries so you can enjoy them year-round.
You can also dry blueberries for later use. This is a simple process which you can do at home in your oven. These can then be stored in an air-tight container.