BrazelBerries are interesting in that they've been designed to have ornamental qualities, which means they look fantastic, while being easy to grow in containers for home gardeners. We received the Blueberry Glaze and Jelly Bean blueberries, along with a pair of Raspberry Shortcake plants. For this project, Addie and I selected a quartet of new square planters, and got them all ready to go (or grow) on our back deck.
With our adventure just getting started, the folks at Fall Creek provided what they call "The 4 Ps of Growing Delicious Blueberries," and I'm going to share those with you as well, as we'll be following them on our berry adventure this summer...
The first secret to success is planting the right variety. BrazelBerries® blueberries are perfect for growing in patio pots, raised beds and directly in the garden.
Home gardeners and cooks who grow BrazelBerries know these small edible fruit bushes are simple to grow, beautiful in the landscape and delicious to eat.
Once you have the blueberry bush, it's important to plant it in the right place. Blueberries need at least six hours of sun each day. "It's the sun that makes berries sweet and juicy, so plant in a very sunny spot," says Aust.
Next, consider the soil. "Blueberries love acidic soils," says Aust. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with amendments. Both soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.
Aust recommends giving the plant's roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container. "Plant them in pots 16 inches or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist to the point that water is dripping from the pot's bottom drainage holes."
Cutting beautiful branches off any plant can be daunting. Aust says, "The truth is that blueberries over-produce, and pruning helps it to put enough energy into producing the best plant and big, yummy fruit for the next season." Pruning also gives the bush more space between its branches and allows air to flow freely through the plant, helping to prevent disease.
"It's best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant," says Aust, "but I've pruned mine in the spring too before flowering, and they've done great." Remove all the stems that are damaged, old or dead. Aust says not to be afraid to take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.
Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. "Add an acid fertilizer such as those for rhododendrons and azaleas," Aust suggests. "I tend to throw on half a handful of slow-release fertilizer. A high-nitrogen organic fertilizer such as blood meal or acidic cottonseed meal works great too." She recommends a second fertilizer application in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production. If you're not sure which fertilizer to use, ask an expert at your local garden center.
With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step-picking-is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do.
Here's what you can expect from each BrazelBerries variety:
Peach Sorbet blueberry: Juicy, sweet blueberries appear in mid-summer on plants with stunning leaves ranging from peach to pink to orange to emerald green.
Jelly Bean blueberry: Large, flavorful, super-sweet blueberries reminiscent of homemade jelly in mid-summer with super sweet flavor like homemade blueberry jelly.
Blueberry Glaze blueberry: Bundles of small, almost black, and intensely flavored wild-like berries packed with antioxidants are ready for mid-summer.
A little protection provided by the home gardener ensures the blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. If birds are a problem, cover with bird netting in the spring to keep critters away. Birds are less likely to eat the fruit when the plants are in containers on the patio.
Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes. "In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots," Aust says. "Blueberries in pots are even easier to protect from winter weather- if you are in a really cold area, just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket."
Both Peach Sorbet and Blueberry Glaze are hardy to USDA Zone 5, while Jelly Bean withstands the slightly colder conditions of USDA Zone 4.
Spring's sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Again, Aust suggests covering blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging. "Spring's warm days can be deceptive," Aust says. "Keep an eye on the weather, and before night falls, cover and protect that tender new growth."
Following these tips will ensure success with your blueberries season after season.
For more information on all things berry, visit the BrazelBerries® Collection website at www.BrazelBerries.com.
And, for updates on how our berries are doing here at Rock Father HQ, be sure to follow me on Instagram!