Blueberries in a half wine barrel planter??

Sunrise Vineyards(6 (Western NY))May 8, 2013

Hi Garden Web Friends,

I have had two (2 year old when planted) blueberry bushes for two years now. (Bluecrop and Blueray). Despite my best efforts, they have done poorly due to a large silver maple tree just a few feet away. They get plenty of sun, however the blueberry's root zone is getting choaked to death by the maple tree feeder roots.

I want to dig up the bushes and put them in a half wine barrel with drilled holes in the base. The wine barrel is 28" wide by 17" high. Its a pretty good size and I am thinking the two bushes can share the barrel.

Also, I would also like to get high quality soil mix so it will be a long lasting acidic soil for the blueberries. Any ideas?

Any imput would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You!


PS - I had the same problem with a butterfly bush. It was getting choaked out by the maple tree roots. I transplanted it into a half wine barrel with 4 other butterfly bushes. The 5 butterfly bushes (in the one barrel) grow HUGE every year with a ton of blooms!

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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Hi Kevin,
Yes,the wine barrel should work for those two for a number of years.
I use about 60-70 percent Pine or Fir bark and the rest Peat Moss and some Perlite,if available.
How's your water supply,acidic or alkaline? Brady

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 4:27AM
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Hi Kev,
I recently transplanted two 4 year-old rabbiteye bushes into planters made from a 55 gallon food grade drum cut in 1/2. I put about 8 1/4" holes in the bottom around the outer circle.

They took to it well, I watered liberally with seaweed for root recovery, never allowing the soil to dry out. Good idea to prune back the top when you transplant.

I'd advise not keeping them in the barrel as a permanent solution though. The roots grow like a thick doormat, only ~6" deep so they need to spread wide. Eventually your foliage will outgrow the capacity which your root mat can support.

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    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Another tip, in case you've not transplanted blues before....

*Support the root mat from underneath. I used a sharp shooter to free the mat, then used a 2x12 plank to insert a burlap sack beneath. I was able to lift from the corners and move with ease.

Sadly the woman who bought these two bushes from me did not apply this method and I'm told the taller Brightwell's root mat was destroyed during transplant. Heartbreaking :(

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:44AM
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I would think that if wine had in fact been kept in the barrel that the wood might leach some acid into the soil which ought to benefit the blueberries.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 3:25PM
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My container mix was just a 1:1 ratio of Spanghum Peat to organic veggie soil. Leaf mold compost for mulch. Soaked with H2O and Maxi-Crop seaweed, about 1" or so every other day.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 5:54PM
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Sunrise Vineyards(6 (Western NY))

Thank you EVERYONE for the great advice.

I have my half wine barrel on order. I also have 3 bags of leaf compost, 2 bags of sand and 2 buckets of well aged horse manure. I have an excellent source to collect both fresh and decomposed pine needles. I will be mixing a combination of this for the soil. I also have peat moss and perilite in my shed which will also be used. It should be a good mix. I would like to load up on the decomposed pine needle compost but I don't want to go too nuts with it.

I will be using a rubber mulch tree ring to rest the barrel half on. This worked really good for my butterfly bush half barrel planter and I figure it will slow the barrel bottom from rotting for a few more years.

Once again, thanks for all the great advice. I appreciate the time everyone gave to respond to this forum.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:34AM
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i don't know if horse manure is a good idea for new blueberries. hopefully some others will chime in....

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:03AM
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FWIW, the local ag school here did a potted blueberry project. The best mix they found was 40% peat, 40% coir (shredded), 20% pearlite.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:17PM
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I've been using about 60+% peat and the rest compost/ shredded leaves for several years; the bushes are thriving in their pots and giving more fruit every year. I do mulch them with shredded leaves for the winter (both in and around the pots)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Yea, a mix of half peat to half potting soil will provide good results.

Sun junkie, those are some beautiful plants. Any idea how the seaweed would work on established plants? I have used it sparingly on transplants but have always wondered if I should use it more on my established plants in the ground.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 10:16PM
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