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 of us don’t have this type of soil. We can, however, 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 6 to 8 weeks.
Grow one blueberry in a 5-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 of 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.