patio blueberries-container size question

lroberge(5)January 7, 2007

Greetings! I would really appreciate some feedback from folks-especially their experiences on this topic.

I have purchased some dwarf blueberry plants to plant in patio containers this spring. Dwarf oinly grow 18 to 24 inches in height.

What SIZE of container should I plant them in? I want to plant them in the container for permanence (not to replant into a bigger container in later time). Yes, I plan to fertilize regularly, but I wanted to know what size container to get to prepare for the planting of these blueberry plants when they arrive in March.

I have seen wooden tubs and clay pots...any one have some advice based on experience with these plants?

Thank you in advance. Best wishes.

Lawrence

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york_rose

I have a regular size blueberry growing in a very large styrofoam pot that outwardly resembles terra cotta, but is much lighter. My general advice to you is that you plant it in as large a pot as you can. If it is to remain outside in the winter, do not use a pot made from ceramic! If you plan to put it somewhere like a garage during the winter (someplace where it will be cold, but not freezing), then that would be different. I specfically purchased the styrofoam so that I could move it, but also so that I would not have to worry about leaving it outside during freezing/thawing weather.

Please also bear in mind that after about three years you will need to be able to replace at least a little of the potting mixture, so you must consider that as well. (If you don't replace it, over time the air spaces will collapse and the roots will suffocate.)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 12:59PM
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WendyB(5A/MA)

I don't think its a good idea to plant them into their permanent home right off. The problem is that with such a large proportion of soil to roots, the soil will stay very wet and the roots may rot.

I don't know about blueberries in particular, but above applies to all plants in general.

A lot of mail order plants will arrive very small. Even if the retail outfit says 1 quart or 1 gallon or whatever, that doesn't necessarily mean the roots will fill the pot.

At a minimum let it grow this season in a pot about 1-2" larger than the root mass. In the fall you can repot bigger. The extra soil at that time will provide extra winter insulation.

If you are talking about planting multiple plants in one pot, thats another story. How many are you getting? What size?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 1:02PM
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york_rose

I've picked wild blueberries from 10' tall bushes growing in a marsh, with permanently wet soil. Blueberries don't suffer from wet feet the way some plants do. In fact they lack the abundance of root hairs many plants have surrouding their roots, so moist soil is often an advantage.

Actually, the reason I suggested a big pot is that the deeper the pot is (as long as the soil mixture is very porous), the better drained, and less wet the potting soil will be. All things being equal, lingering wetness is a not a function of pot size, but of pot depth. The shallower the pot, the bigger a problem with wet soil you will have. I learned that as a horticulture undergraduate student at Penn State (& the Agronomy prof. included this in a slide show, with pictures to prove it).

I know it's counterintuitive, but it's the truth.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 2:10AM
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lroberge(5)

To york-rose-I appreciate the warning about collapse of the aeration for the root system. Good point. How about this counter-question...what is I put some earthworms in the pot to maintain tunnels (and hence aeration) in the potting soil. Would that help?

Also, thanks for the pot drainage info.

To wendy B-thanks for the suggestions. I plan to get 3 to 4 plants-each different strain of dwarf blueberry (tophat, ,etc.) and then I have to get the pots ready. The plants are ordered and will arrive in March-from Gurney's.

Thanks for the info folks. I appreciate it.

Best wishes.

Lawrence

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 5:53PM
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york_rose

I don't know the answer to your question to me. I can imagine it working, but I'm not certain. One thing about that idea gives me pause, but I suspect it wouldn't necessarily really be an issue. That "thing" is I think (but am not sure) that worm castings tend to be akaline, and blueberries are not tolerant of alkaline soil conditions. Even if all you do is use regular potting soil I would recommend you amend it with some ground sulfur (not aluminum sulfate, ground sulfur is slower acting and longer lasting). Blueberries are notorious for having trouble getting the iron they need when the soil isn't acid enough for them.

Others may have a better feel for the effects of earthworms than I have.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 12:36AM
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triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

I'm uncertain if the worms will even stay in the pot. Seems they would quickly exhaust the available food supply & leave the pot for better feeding grounds?

Tricia

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 7:40AM
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diggingthedirt

I agree with Triciae, unless the pot is sitting on the soil. I have some large old clay pots directly on the soil near my vegie garden; they stay outdoors all winter and are emptied and re-planted every few years. I always find worms in the plotting soil when I re-do these pots.

These pots are well mulched during the summer, to keep them from drying out too fast and to keep down the number of volunteers that pop up in them all season. A side benefit of this is (apparently) that it keeps the soil friable and makes the worms happy.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 12:59PM
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mabbott

I am experimenting with patio blueberries this year. I put them in smaller pots, thinking I will transplant to larger in the spring when they are bigger..My question is: what do you do with them in the winter? I could put them in the garage - but there isn't a lot of light. I could put them in a room with sky lights, but would the indoors be too much of a shock? I am not a very experienced gardner
thanks for any suggestions!
mabbott

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 6:12PM
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diggingthedirt

Once the leaves are off, plants don't need light.

A cold garage is better than a warm room indoors, because the plants will need to go into dormancy.

Since these are totally hardy, they could actually stay outdoors. Just surround the pots with a bed of loose, dry leaves (or pine boughs) so the soil doesn't get completely, bone dry and to keep the worst of the wind off them.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:44PM
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jkohler51_hotmail_com

Can these plants be planted in the ground like regular blueberry plants?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 7:33AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Jacquelynn - In the future you may get more answers and you can get them coming directly to your email if you start a new thread for a question rather than adding on to an old one. Just go to the main New England forum page and scroll down to the bottom to start a new thread. Check off the box to get thread additions emailed directly to you.

Sure - any size or variety of blueberry shrub can be grown well in the ground! In fact they will probably be happier with less fussing on your part in the ground. I have both high bush and low bush blueberries growing wild all over my old farm. For good fruiting, if you are growing the shorter ones, be sure that they are positioned so that they aren't shadowed by taller plants near them. Mulch well with an organic mulch since blueberries have relatively shallow roots and don't like to dry out. The birds like blueberries too, so you may need to cover the shrubs with bird netting as harvest time gets close.

Enjoy - blueberries are one of the easiest fruit crops in my experience. As a bonus you get spring flowers and lovely red autumn foliage.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:28AM
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