Growing berries in pots isn’t difficult when you select the right container, variety, and location. Here are some quick and easy tips to get you growing. (Looking for ways to design with berrying plants? Use these gorgeously rustic plants for a super-chic look.)
- Growing blueberries in containers makes it easy to keep the soil at the low pH blueberries (5.0 to 5.5) require. Use a potting mix for acid loving plants or make your own blend of potting soil, peat, and well-aged steer manure.
- Provide a pot that’s at least 24″ wide and deep, with excellent drainage.
- Top with a 2″ layer of an acid mulch such as shredded pine bark.
- Blueberries generally love full sun but where summers are unrelentingly hot afternoon shade is appreciated.
- Provide consistent water and do not let soil dry out (but don’t let soil get too boggy either–drainage is key!)
- Many blueberries are self-fertile and will fruit without another blueberry plant nearby. However, all will do best with at least two bushes that bloom around the same time, for good pollination and fruit set.
- Start by choosing a variety that’s been bred to be smaller and more compact (see below).
- Plant in a container that is at least 24″-36″ wide and deep.
- You will get fruit with only one plant, however adding an additional raspberry bush will drastically increase crop size.
- Grow in full sun—supplying afternoon shade in areas with harshly hot summers.
- Raspberries need at least 1” of water per week. This likely means a daily drink during the heat of summer, depending on rainfall. However, do not waterlog the plants.
- Fertilize your plants in early spring and again in midsummer with a balanced, time-release fertilizer.
- Let shrubs go dormant in winter.
- Most blackberries are wild things unsuitable for containers but some thornless varieties (see below) thrive in a large pot with proper care.
- You know the drill–provide a large pot. A half-barrel, 24″ pot, or large zinc tub are all good options.
- Even newer compact varieties can get large and might require a trellis for support.
- Site in full sun and plant in quality potting soil. Provide even moisture and excellent drainage. (A few inches of gravel in the bottom of pot is never a bad idea.) Feed in early spring and again in summer.
- To prune, remove second-year canes that have fruited just after the summer harvest. Leave newly emerged canes alone; they may fruit in fall and will fruit the next summer.
- In colder zones, move containers to a sheltered spot or to a protected but unheated space in winter.
- Any type of strawberry will produce fruits in pots but day neutral which produce berries sporadically throughout the summer or everbearing varieties, which produce fruit two times in a growing season are your best bets.
- Plant in a pot that’s at least 18″ wide and 8″ deep, spacing plants 10″ apart with the crown (where the leaves emerge) sitting just above the surface to help avoid rot.
- Ensure 6–8 hours of full sun daily.
- Long periods of hot, dry weather may require daily watering.
- Feed with time-release balanced fertilizer when planting and once again with a soluable fertilizer high in phosphorous after first big fruiting.
- Even with the best care, strawberries are a short-lived perennials. Plants will need to be replaced about every 3 years.
Six Berries that Thrive in Containers
Bountiful Blue® Blueberry
Zone: 6 – 10
Award-winner with the bluest of foliage and a big crop of large, sweet berries on a compact shrub. Needs only 150-200 winter chill hours. Full sun. Up to 4 ft. tall and wide.
Raspberry Shortcake® Raspberry
Zone: 4 – 9
Revolutionary thornless raspberry with a compact nature and rounded growth that requires no staking or big garden spaces. Full sun. Up to 3 ft. tall and wide.
Peach Sorbet® Blueberry
Zone: 5 – 10
Compact with stunning peach, pink, orange and emerald green leaves and an abundant summer crop of juicy, sweet berries. Partial to full sun. Up to 2 ft. tall and wide.