Half-high blueberries in containers or not??

loriashFebruary 21, 2013

I have ordered the Northland package of blueberries from Berries Unlimited.com - it consists of two each Chippewa, NorthBlue and Polaris. I emailed the company asking for suggestion on pot size for on my deck, and her response was that these northern half-highs should absolutely not be put in containers, as it will be torture on the plants. She's strongly recommending I change my order to the dwarf pkg, which consists of two each Northsky, Northcountry, Top Hat and one Brunswick. I would really rather have the larger half-highs than the dwarfs. I have 22-inch containers and will be able to winter them in my garage. Is she right, that I shouldn't grow the half-highs in containers? I've found a lot of info online that leads me to believe I won't have a problem!

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Torture?? I've got southern high bush in 3 gal to 15 gallon and they work fine. I do like the 10-15 gallon size best. I've got a Star in 15 gallon that produced 18 lbs year before last. It is about 7ft tall including pot and almost that wide. It's been repotted once since 2004.

Here's a picture of the Star from a couple years ago. It's even wider now. As wide as tall. I expect ~18 lbs maybe even 20 this year. That's a full size door on my greenhouse in background. The pot is smaller than 18 inches by 18 inches, more like 14 tall by 15 wide actual rooting media.

The smaller pots work fine but you do need to prune the top down to fit the pot otherwise they need watering more than once a day. But I can get 5 lbs fruit off 5 gal media. My aching back really appreciates the smaller pots. That big Star weights about 120 lbs when wet.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 21:17

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:07PM
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northernmn(3/4)

I have Chippewa and Polaris that you are considering, as well as some other 1/2 highs, like StCloud,etc. I can't think of any reason that you would have a problem. Mine are in the ground though. In the winter, watch out for dehydration in the branches and the root ball. The last 2 winters, I have lost about 50% of my top growth due to desiccation.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Lori,
Here is a picture taken tonight of my Chippewa.It is at least four feet tall and is in a 20 inch container.It's been one of the most productive Blueberry plants I have.It does have a few roots coming out a drain hole,so it'll probably get a bigger container this Fall. Brady

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:59PM
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loriash

Thank you everyone. I thought I was going insane - thinking I had done my research and picked out some that would work, then getting that email from the nursery. Makes me wonder if she had an ulterior motive, like too many of the dwarfs on hand? Regardless, I'm telling her I am sticking to my original order. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 10:54PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

When I repotted my Star after the 18 lb crop I was surprised how little excess roots there were. It really didn't need to be repotted after 6 or 7 years in the same pot. Then I didn't water enough so last years crop was poor. This year it made a great recovery and looks the best it ever has. These things are very well adapted to pots compared to fruit trees and figs. They get terribly root bound in half the time.

The nursery lady has probably never grown potted blueberries. She just thinks you need a dwarf and you don't.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:17PM
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ericwi

It is not well established that container grown blueberries will survive the temperature swings that we can have in a normal Wisconsin winter. The issue is that a container plant will get warmer than the local ground when there is a thaw, and colder than the local ground, when there is a cold stretch. Shrubs that are planted in the ground, and buried in snow drifts, should have a fairly constant temperature during the winter, until the snow melts and the days lengthen. Please keep posting-I'd like to know how this turns out.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:00AM
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riverman1

I am not much of a fan of the Chippewa variety and wish mine were as productive as those brady has. My Chippewas grow great, have tons of fruit but the berries are way too small. I don't have the other varieties you have mentioned so can't comment on them.

Make sure you get the soil right and your plants will be happy. Good luck.

RM

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:59AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I agree with the lady from Berries unlimited.....you people that grow in pots are torturing those poor plants. Especially you Steve......you have so many potted plants your picture is probably up on a plant post office some where. Don't even get me started on those that amputate arms off of poor fruit trees. Plants are people too.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:40AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Arms?? I cut them off at the ankles. That way they can't run away!! Really it's true in those small pots I take out the biggest canes at the ankles. They are totally miserable in the small pots....and that's kinda true...;-)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:28AM
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riverman1

I have grown Chippewa and northcountry and many other varieties in pots and they did fine. Once I moved them into the ground they did better though and I think it mostly has to do with water. Plants in the ground seems to go through a more natural wet-dry cycle than those in pots. Plants in the ground may also be able to obtain micronutrients from the parent soil that may not be available to those in pots. Finally, I'm sure it's easier on plants in the ground to endure tough winters. I never lost a potted plant to winter kill and the soil was frozen solid as a rock but in a place like Wisconsin it may be different.

There are examples of growers very successfully growing beautiful bb plants in pots. If you search YouTube you will find many good examples. Whether in the ground or in a pot, it's still fun!

RM

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:31PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

This is a commercial farmer I know in the area.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:03PM
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loriash

I might also mention that she recommended Sunshine Blue...even though I'm zone 5b. That's a southern type, correct? Hmmm...

She's shipping my my original selection in two weeks. Crossing my fingers!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:21PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Sunshine is a SHB buts it's cold hardy and rated to zone 5, great little plant too! When it blooms it's a stunner;) Coolest looking plant in my collection when in full bloom!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:38PM
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riverman1

You will be happy Lori, just make sure you get the soil right. If the soil isn't right the plants won't do well no matter what. If you use a mix of peat moss and soil you can't go wrong. If you have pine bark near you then use that. I plant my plants in the ground using 2/3 peat and one part soil and they love it. When I planted in pots I used a mix of potting soil and peat and pine bark. Good luck.

RM

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:23PM
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loriash

I have been reading all about Al's mix and will follow his and your advice! Thank you all! Now, to go buy more containers to plant the 75 bare-root strawberries I just couldn't help but buy online....

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 9:28PM
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lsoh

Lori,
I am no expert. I've learned much from this forum and the container forum. I tried several recipies for potting mixes that I found on these forums. Given what seems to be a ton of research, Al's gritty mix is probably a fine mix, but you might want to be aware of a couple of things. 1) Al's gritty mix is very heavy. I used Al's gritty mix in a pot smaller than 8 gallons. Fortunately, it was a round pot. It was all I could do to put the pot on an angle and sort of roll it. I couldn't even drag it. Too heavy. 2) Al's gritty mix dries out very quickly. Blueberries are reported to be very touchy about the soil drying out. I've abandonded Al's gritty mix because of the weight issue alone.

Fruitnut is very successful growing fruit in pots. You might consider creating a mix closer to his. (Garden web's search feature doesn't work well. Seems to limit search to one year. Try searching gardenweb.from google like this: site: gardenweb.com fruitnut blueberries or something similar.)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 5:42PM
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