Please welcome guest contributor Liz Greene!
If you’re a gardener with limited space, you may have considered growing berry plants in containers. While it may seem like a daunting task, it’s surprisingly simple if you know the basics ahead of time.
Select a Container-Friendly Variety
Strawberries are incredibly well suited to containers, and any variety will work well. Raspberries and blueberries, however, are less inclined to do well in pots. That’s why it’s incredibly important to choose the right variety before getting started.
Most raspberry varieties become far too large and unwieldy to be easily grown in containers. Luckily there are newer cultivars such as the 'Heritage' and 'Raspberry Shortcake' that are well suited to growing in large pots.
Since the majority of blueberry plants need other blueberries nearby for pollination, you may want to choose a self-pollinating variety to make things easier.
Pick the Right Container
All berries will need a container with adequate drainage — they don’t do well when their roots sit in soggy soil.
Strawberries can be grown in everything from mason jars to hanging baskets. Containers that are wider than they are deep will allow you to grow more plants in one area. Raspberries and blueberries will need containers that are at least two to three feet wide and deep. Large pots or planters typically associated with small trees or shrubs work well. If you’ll be moving the containers for overwintering, you’ll want to place them on a plant dolly.
Make Sure They Have Plenty Of Sun
Whether they’re in a container or in the ground, all fruiting plants produce the most berries in full sun. Provide at least six to eight hours of sun per day.
Berries are far sweeter when they receive a lot of water. Never let them dry out. Since plants in containers lose water more quickly than plants in the ground, you’ll want to check the soil in your containers daily to be sure it hasn’t dried out. When it’s windy or especially hot, your berries may need to be watered twice a day.
Give Them a Little Fertilizer
Strawberries and raspberries will benefit from a balanced 10-10-10 timed-release fertilizer at planting time, and month fertilizer after that. Blueberries need fertilizer specialized for acidic loving plants. They’ll also enjoy an occasional sprinkling of used coffee grounds.
Although berry plants don’t require too much maintenance, they do require some patience. It can take a year or more for your plants to produce a moderate harvest. That means you’ll most likely be overwintering them. If your region has harsh winters, you’ll need to move the berry pots to an unheated garage. Allow them to go dormant but give just enough water to keep them alive. You can return the container to a sunny location once the danger of frost passes.
With the right variety and container, plenty of sun and water, and just the right amount of patience, you’ll see healthy and thriving berry plants in just a year or two. Happy gardening, my friends!
Liz Greene is an animal loving, history studying, plant growing wild woman from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene and catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.