Repotting a Sunshine Blueberry

blueboy1977(TX9A/B)June 16, 2013

Pulled the last of the blueberries off my Sunshine Blue plant last week. Its been in a 15 gallon pot for 3 years now and was my first potted blueberry. The potting mixed was about 80%peat moss and 20% pine bark. I had noticed that some of the older canes didnt leaf out very well this year and the fruit on these canes was sour and tasteless. That being said, the canes were still expanding and pealing bark. Usually they become unproductive when they turn grey and quit expanding. Concidering the mix was mostly peat I had to pull and examine thinking it was maybe a soil issue.

Few things I noticed here. I couldnt really define a perched water table in the soil. The bottom 3 inches of the soil was moist as expected but not saturated. Bark was still intact and had not broken down much at all. During the root prunning I even noticed flakes of soil sulfer still intact from the origional potting. Hard to believe it hadnt broke down yet? The roots had completely filled the pot and still was pushing fine white feeder roots. I prunned 3 to 4 inches off the sides of the root ball and 1/3 to 1/2 off the bottom. Went back with a mostly bark with some peat and perilite for repot.

In conclusion Im not 100% I should have even repotted yet. I did it more as a guage to give me some kind of time line for the rest of my potted plants. I believe I could have just cut back the unproductive canes and waited at least another year or two before root prunning. After the repotting process I cut the top back very hard leaving only 5 young canes and cut back the older ones 4 inches from the soil. Hopefully all is well. Only time will tell!

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Noogy(6 sw mi)

That's a big pot. i would have flushed with rainwater, and fertilized for a new growth flush with liquified kelp. My blues LOVE their yearly kelp.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 7:46AM
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All of the work you just did is why I grow mine in the ground.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:34AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

My biggest Star has been in a 15 gallon pot since 2004. It was repotted the one and only time in 2011. My conclusion at that time was that it didn't need repotting. These things don't build up a huge mass of circling roots like fruit trees. The roots on the outer edge of the rootball weren't that crowded.

The Star yielded 18 lbs in 2011 before repotting. I haven't come close to that in the two crops since mostly due, I think, to underwatering the year after repotting. This year it's the biggest ever, too big for the pot, and yielded about 10 lbs.

I'm not going to repot. Rather the plant needs about 50% of the canes removed and tied upright so it doesn't get 8ft wide again. That will allow me to keep it wet enough without watering twice a day to get another big crop, I think.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:23AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


If the pot is sitting on the ground generally at least some bits of soil will filter out of the holes in the pot and contact the earth. When that happens you won't have a perched water table as the earth will wick the excess moisture out of the pot.

I know on a full size blueberry 10 years in a 30 gallon pot they are still fine. They will fill the space but no circling. BB really are a pretty good pot culture plant. Opposed to say figs that would need root pruned every 3 years max.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:47AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


+1 on everything you said. Fig roots do a circus act in pots. My Star repotted after 7 years, no circling at all.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:46AM
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The only place I saw any roots getting cramped were in the very bottom of the pot. They basicly looked like a mat of roots. I would have to agree that they make a great potting plant because the roots are so fine that it looks like they fill all available poor space in the pot. Im thinking I wont need to repot the 15 gallon for some time. I have several in 10 gallon pots that will eventually go into 30 gallon pots. Once there Im thinking that will be there permenent home. So do you all agree that blues should just be potted up and not repotted, atleast for many many years? Much different than any other plant for potted culture that I know of.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 12:27PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Here in Florida some of the commercial growers grow in is kind of the old school approach as the potted plants have ripe fruit just a week or so after the in ground plants so it is losing favor.

What the in pot growers would do is take a 3 gallon plant and put it directly in the 30 gallon pots and there it stayed for it's life no root pruning ever. Some would place 1 gallon plants directly in the 30 gallon pots. I was always under the impression you needed to gradually up pot plants but I guess there are exceptions. They did it that way to save labor costs of course.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 1:25PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Where I've had to repot is when the media breaks down. If the media drops in volume by a lot and the plant slows or stops growing your media has broken down, compacted, and become waterlogged. Then it's repot or the plant may die. I'm of the opinion that enough roots in the pot may help support the media and help prevent the water logging. Of course getting the media right in the first place can prevent or delay breakdown. But we don't have much good media for sale here in the desert. The bark is too big and the potting soils are sure to fail in a few years. Spaghnum peat moss is about all that's left.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

"Of course getting the media right in the first place can prevent or delay breakdown."
That's an interesting statement,fruitnut.What is the right media?Bark size only? Thanks,Brady

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:50PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Bamboo might have a better answer than I. I think those FL commercial growers growing in 30 gal pots use bark, probably medium bark.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 7:16PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

The bark size has a name but it escapes me. It is just a medium fine mix. They add NOTHING to it except a shovel full of native sand which percolates down over time and tightens up the pore spaces. I think peat is better and coffee grounds are great. The commercial guys just go wit what is cheap and works. They do mulch the pot tops with a coarse bark to lessen evaporation.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

This is some of the mulch I have on hand.They are both put out by an Idaho company,Mountain Magic.
The first picture is of their "Premium Grind"( LOL) and the next is an All Purpose mulch.I think both contain Fir and Pine bark.
Home Depot sells the first one and Fred Meyer has the All Purpose.I don't sift anything,but will pull out small sticks from the grind sometimes.I use mostly the All Purpose and another that Lowes sells,Greensmix,which is offered in vary degrees of coarseness.The grade I use looks closest to the All Purpose,but maybe a little bit bigger.
Everything is growing okay in this stuff,but this post has me thinking about the long term and what is best. Brady
Premium Grind

All Purpose

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:10AM
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