Planting berries in containers is a great option for homes with limited outdoor space. Or, if you’re anything like me and have actually just run out of space in the garden. Most berries need full sunshine so it can be helpful if the container can be easily moved around your yard to maximize sun exposure throughout the growing season. There are a few considerations when you’re planting your berry crop, to ensure a bountiful yield.
First, ensure you’ve got the right pot for the job. A container needs to be large enough for the mature plant or it will stunt it. There also needs to be sufficient drainage, which is a product of the container as well as the right kind of soil but we’ll get to that! For blueberries, a pot that is at least 18” in diameter, low wide pots are great for this. Strawberry containers can be a bit smaller 10” – 12” and will even work well in window boxes. Raspberries need the largest containers at least 24”, but consider that you may want to be able to move them into the garage or cold cellar if we get another icy winter.
Soil, Sun & Water Considerations:
Use a potting soil designed for acid loving plants – When planting your blueberries, fill your pot 2/3 full of your regular potting mix and then the remainder with the high acid soil. One of the most important considerations is the amount of sun your new plant will need. Blueberries need full sun at least 6-8 hours. Water frequently as with the reduced soil area means that they will dry out more quickly and blueberries need lots of water. Always check the soil with your finger, to see if it’s wet below the surface and consider a thin layer of mulch over the top of the soil to help conserve moisture.
Use a loose loamy potting soil for your strawberries, something that will retain moisture but also allow drainage as they do not like standing water at all. The soil should be high in phosphorus so supplement with a fertilizer. Like most fruits they are sun loving but if all the sun is coming from one direction ensure to rotate the plant every 4 days to ensure even full growth.
Raspberries are pretty hardy and will do well in most soils, that being said it’s a good idea to prepare the soil one week in advance with a nice organic fertilizer. They also love moisture and you can soak the roots 2 hours before planting. Like blueberries, raspberries need a lot of sun 6-8 hours as well, but are not fond of harsh evening sun so an east facing exposure is best.
Blueberries need friends – Most blueberries sold in our garden centre will have both male and female plant organs on the same plant allowing them to self pollinate, but to maximize your yield place at least two plants in different containers relatively close together.
The most difficult part about growing raspberries is the pruning. The way the plant grows, each branch or “cane” only produces fruit once. Ensure to keep track and prune back the old canes each season.
Keeping your strawberry plants off the ground (for instance a window box) will help cut down bacterial and fungal disease problems.