Blueberry plants provide spring blooms, fall color and tasty, nutritious fruit. Photo by Melinda Myers

Growing blueberries in honor of National Blueberry Month



(7/15/2019)

by Melinda Myers

It’s time to celebrate! July is National Blueberry Month so enjoy some of these nutritious berries and consider growing a few plants in your landscape.

Don’t let a lack of space or poor soil stop you from growing blueberries. Simply plant a few blueberries in containers and enjoy their spring blooms, fall color and tasty and nutritional fruit for snacking, baking and including in healthful meals.

Blueberries prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Most people don’t have this type of soil, but you can create the ideal conditions with a quality potting mix. Or make your own with a combination of sphagnum moss, pine bark and rice hulls or perlite for drainage. Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer at planting to provide needed nutrients for six to eight weeks.

Grow one blueberry plant in a five-gallon pot with drainage holes. You only need one plant to have fruit but growing two blueberry plants more than doubles the harvest. Plus, you’ll have more flowers and colorful fall foliage to brighten your patio, deck or balcony.

Select a blueberry suited to your growing region or one of the compact blueberry cultivars like top hat, jelly bean, blueberry glaze, and peach sorbet. Perpetua is not only compact but produces both a summer and fall crop.

Place your container in a sunny location. Check soil moisture in your container gardens daily. Water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy wet.

Dress up the container and keep the roots cool and moist with mulch. Cover the soil surface with shredded leaves, evergreen needles, or shredded bark.

Birds are the biggest pest of blueberries. Simply cover the plants with netting as the fruit begins to develop to protect your harvest from hungry birds. This is a much easier task when dealing with a couple potted plants versus a large in-ground planting.

You will need to provide a bit of winter protection if your winters are cold. Place your potted blueberries in a sheltered location and cover the container with woodchips to insulate the roots, or sink the container in a vacant spot in the garden. You can also store your plants in an unheated garage for winter. Just be sure to water the plants anytime the soil is thawed and dry.

And even if you don’t get a big harvest – the flowers and fall color make great additions to any landscape. Visit MelindaMyers.com for tips on harvesting, storing and preserving blueberries.

Melinda Myers is the author of numerous books, including “Small Space Gardening.” She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio program. Myers website is www.MelindaMyers.com.

 

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