Growing Fruit in Pots

No ground to spare? Here are three fruits that do just fine in containers.

By Stacey Hirvela


Growing Fruit in PotsBlueberries
Native to much of eastern North America, blueberries are easily grown in containers. In fact, these notoriously acid-loving plants (their ideal soil pH is between 4.5 and 5.5) may be best grown that way in areas with alkaline soil. The fruits ripen from late June to August, depending on the variety and weather. But blueberries are truly four-season plants in the landscape, with bell-like flowers in spring, summer fruits, vivid autumn color, and bright red stems in the winter. Many blueberry varieties require two plants for a good fruit set, and while this means twice the harvest, it may be problematic for small-space gardeners.

Pot. Blueberries are long-lived and develop extensive root systems. Forestall the need to repot with a weatherproof container at least 22 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep.

Soil. Peat-based potting mixes best approximate the acidic conditions that blueberries need. Blend sphagnum peat moss with an equal amount of compost for moisture, fertility, and pH levels.

Light. Place containers where they receive at least 6 hours of bright sunlight daily.

Water. Moisture-loving blueberries require frequent watering, especially in midsummer when the weather is hot and the fruit is ripening.

Recommended varieties. Dozens of varieties are available; select those that are suitable for your climate. In warm regions, 'Sharpblue' is an excellent performer. 'Bluecrop' is recommended for northern areas. Gardeners with limited space should consider dwarf varieties such as Jelly Bean, a 2-foot compact mound, and other self-pollinators like 'Sweetheart'.

Pruning. One-year-old stems bear heaviest. Each year in early spring, remove wood entering its third year to promote new growth. Prune lightly after harvest to shape plants and control their size, if necessary.

Fertilizer. A fertile environment is important. Top-dress containers with a granular fertilizer formulated for acid-loving woody plants in early spring and again in early June.

Hardiness. Blueberries are suitable for Zones 2 through 8, depending on variety.

Read the complete guide to Growing Blueberries.

Photo by Andrea Jones/Garden Exposures Library