small blueberry bush: barrel planter or in-ground

Anthony(7a)October 16, 2012

We have two small blueberry bushes arriving from Gurneys tomorrow. We think we have a good location in front of the house, but we still aren't sure how the plants will do there.

Alternately, the wife likes the idea of planting them in some half wine barrel planters. The worry there would be freezing since more of the base is exposed to wind.

We're zone 7a -- some freeze thaw and usually one to two major snow events each winter.

Any advice is appreciated!


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Hi Anthony,
Snow is okay,it actually acts like an insulator.Being in the ground with some mulch around them will give them the best protection,but half barrels are big and should probably be fine.There is a guy who grows Blueberries in Southeastern Washington State where it can get in the single digits and he wrote that his barrels froze solid but the plants came back fine the next Spring.
What varieties are they and how old and big? Brady

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:42PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I like the barrel idea. I grow my blueberries in containers and have had good results. As long as the growing mix is correct from the start they're fairly simple to grow.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Sunshine Blue.

What's the right growing mix? I'll have to buy it at the garden center when I get the barrel planters.

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Pine bark mulch and peat moss,about 60/40 to 70/30 ratio is what I do.
The Sunshines will do okay on their own,but will produce more fruit if they have another Southern Highbush to accompany them. Brady

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Here is a 3 year old Sunshine Blue in mostly peat with some pine bark. This was my first attempt at potting blueberries. The potting soil has held up pretty well so far but after the next fruiting season Im going to attempt to root prune and repot with a little different potting soil. 70/20/10 pine bark, peat, perilite.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:33AM
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You wouldn't have to worry about them freezing out. As Brady mentioned,I have had plants freeze solid in pots and they come out in the spring just fine.

Having said that, however, I would plant them in the ground. Why? Because I grew BB in pots for several years and once I put them in the ground they really took off.....much faster growth, easier to care for, just healthier more robust plants. I put them into 3/4 peat and 1/4 native soil. My soil here is pretty good though, it's a silt loam and drains well. If you have a clay I wouldn't recommend it. If you had pine bark I would use mostly that and a bit of peat. I can't find pure pine bark here so I use lots of peat. I'm not a botanist or an expert, just a guy that likes to grow blueberries. I am still learning every year.

My plants on June 4, 2011

Same plants, October 2012

Different angle, 2011


Reka I planted this was maybe 10 inches tall when I planted it. I clipped this plant back a couple times trying to make it branch. The plant is about waist high.

This Reka is several years old and probably 4' wide, had lots of berries this summer.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Sorry the pictures aren't that great, I used my iphone today for convenience and the photo quality isn't the best.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Hey thanks. I think we'll stick with pots for at least a little while. If I find a spot they seem to love we may reconsider the ground (but we do have clay, so drainage is a problem).

I'll be sure to pick up some peat and pine bark when we get the containers.

Thanks again all.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:07AM
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