Growing Blueberries in Containers

By on April 22, 2011

Blueberries for you!

Good news! It’s easy to grow blueberries in containers on your deck or patio.

That’s a boon for small-space gardeners—and it’s fun to have the berries to pick at the outdoor breakfast table even when you have a blueberry hedge elsewhere in your yard.

Blueberries are at the top of the health-boosting hit parade and they’re popular with all ages. And species! Your dog may “pick” the ripe berries if you don’t watch out.

Varieties that will live happily ever after in containers

Two blueberry varieties stay small and won’t need extensive pruning to thrive in your containers:

*  Northern Highbush ‘Top Hat’ grows best in cold climates (USDA zones 3-7)

*  Southern Highbush ‘Sunshine Blue’ also known as the Southern Patio Blueberry, it does well in warm climates (USDA zones 5-10)

Blueberries have wide, shallow roots. Place a bare root or a transplant into a 5-10 gallon container. After a couple of years, shift up to a wider container, such as a half-barrel.

Acid soil is a snap in a container

Is your soil alkaline? Growing acid-loving blueberries in containers, with an acid potting soil mix or a 50-50 mix of peat and potting soil, is a simple solution to that problem.

In our video, Growing Blueberries, Tricia creates a container soil mix of half organic potting soil and half Coco Peat (a sustainable alternative to peat moss). You can also use the prepared acid soil mixes sold for rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias, but do not use any mixes that contain redwood sawdust as an ingredient. It is not recommended for blueberries.

Blueberries must have acid soil, pH 5.0 to 5.5. You should monitor the soil pH throughout the year with a pH test kit.

Use fertilizers that will gently increase soil acidity, such as Acid Mix or cottonseed meal. Add fertilizer in small amounts from early spring to late summer according to the feeding instructions on the label.

Watering blueberries in containers

Soil in containers dries out quickly. Blueberries want damp soil, so water regularly (increasing water during any heat waves) and add a thick layer of mulch, a few inches away from the stems of the bush.

Keep the birds away

When the berries first appear, wrap the bush in some unobtrusive black bird netting.

Site and long-term care

Blueberries need full sun, but if they’re on a patio or deck in a hot climate you should place them where they don’t get blasted with late afternoon sun.

‘Top Hat’ and ‘Sunshine Blue’ will thrive in containers for their lives. Every 3 to 4 years change out the soil and root prune the plants to keep them the right size for your containers.

More information about the amazing blueberry

We have posts on growing and caring for for blueberries. Check out how to prune blueberries, and our blueberry Growing Guide.

Reliable, research-based help comes in Growing Blueberries in the Sacramento Region by Chuck Ingels, Sacramento County Farm Advisor.


Don’t stop with the blueberries: grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables in containers. Two respected garden pros have all the tips for you, from which varieties do best, to which soil to use, in The Bountiful Container. This thick, illustrated handbook will help you turn any patio or deck into a cornucopia of edibles.

  Comments (35)


I would like to buy two blueberry plants for containers from your company. What is the information regarding their purchase?

Posted by irene garcia on Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:19:29 AM


I really like your web-site. I am a quite Gardener and stay in the back ground when on the web. I have a question: do you have any advice for ‘white fly’? May herb garden is container style. I have had them(white fly) for two yrs. I discarded some plants and things improved yet they still cling on. I want to start a 1/2 barrel garden but not till I can eradicate the ‘WF’ or at least get them under control somehow. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. ...much appreciated…Larry

Posted by LARRY BAUGH on Aug. 23, 2011 at 2:43:13 PM


What about coffee grounds to boost the acidity of the soil?

Posted by Chris Vance on Sep. 07, 2011 at 5:52:46 PM

Irene, Here’s the link to our blueberry section

Posted by on Oct. 04, 2011 at 11:32:07 AM

Larry, Does it make you feel better that UC Davis calls the whitefly “difficult”?

Here is the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management Pest Note on Whiteflies (their suggestions include both organic and non-organic methods)

Depending on your location you may still have time to bring in beneficial insects. Here are our insects and products that are labeled to combat whiteflies

Hope this is helpful!

Posted by on Oct. 04, 2011 at 11:43:52 AM

Chris, Surprisingly, coffee grounds are not reliably acidic. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott investigates gardening lore and recently wrote an article on using coffee grounds in which she said “[a] commonly held assumption states that coffee grounds are acidic, but this does not hold true experimentally.” When placed in the garden “the pH of decomposing coffee grounds is not stable”.

The link I have would not paste in here properly. If you search for Chalker-Scott and coffee grounds you will find it.

Posted by on Oct. 04, 2011 at 11:52:57 AM


Help!  I just received my two (2) Top Hat blueberry shrubs from a reliable vendor.  The How To materials were general instructions for planting blueberries and said I needed to plant ANOTHER VARIETY to ensure cross pollination…?  Is this true of all blueberries, including this new variety?  What do I do?  My soil and sun conditions are lousy, which is why I was doing containers in the first place.  I would really like berries.  Am I going to get any without planting a different, non-container variety of blueberry nearby?

Posted by Sue on Apr. 20, 2012 at 7:03:35 PM

Sue, Most blueberries need to be planted near other blueberry varieties to be fruitful. Top Hat, however, is what is called “self-fruitful” and does not require another variety for pollination. If you do want to plant an additional container blueberry, try Southern Blue (USDA zone 5-10).

Posted by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 7:46:27 PM


Would a 18” pot be sufficient size or what size would you suggest

Posted by Carol on Apr. 09, 2013 at 6:39:10 PM

Carol, Place a bare root or transplant in a 5 gallon container. After two years, shift up to a wider container, such as a half-barrel.

Posted by on Apr. 10, 2013 at 11:01:57 AM


I just got top hat blueberries and I am wondering if I put them I a container what indeed to do with them over winter I am in a zone 4/5. Thanks

Posted by Kristin on May. 07, 2013 at 4:46:42 AM

Kristin, Top Hat is hardy to zone 3, so even with the smaller amount of soil in a container, it should be fine without protection in your zone 4/5 climate. Enjoy!

Posted by on May. 08, 2013 at 10:33:47 AM


A ‘friend’ on FaceBook shared this link. We are both intending to try container planting for blueberries this year. Just want to say what a great help you’ve been with the information you shared here. Thanks.

Posted by Linda Deal on Apr. 05, 2014 at 4:00:11 PM


We have been using a dilute version of tobacco juice mixed with dish soap for white fly & aphids and it is a natural way to kill these things.  Look for a recipe online as this is an old English gardener trick!

Posted by Kathryn D. Friesen on Apr. 09, 2014 at 2:26:49 PM


I Live in Saskatchewan, Canada (zone 2 or maybe 3). Is there a variety I can grow in a container and do I need something for cross pollinating? Any special winter care?

Posted by Shelly on May. 11, 2014 at 8:10:00 AM

Hello Shelly,

All blueberries do well in containers. Some varieties hardy to zone 3 are: Patriot, Blueray, and Top Hat. Top Hat is a dwarf bush and only gets 1-2 feet tall. Cross pollination is not necessary to get fruit but you will get more fruit and larger berries with cross pollination. If you’re worried about the winter you might want to bring them into the garage, carport, shed ect. while they are dormant to give them a little protection from the cold. You can also put them on the south side, next to a wall so they get a little extra radiant heat.

Posted by on May. 12, 2014 at 9:39:12 AM


I drink lots of hibiscus tea. Lots of used hibiscus flowers. will they make good mulch for blueberries-they are very acid

Posted by wanda on Jun. 16, 2014 at 10:56:52 AM


Hi, I loved reading all the replys. I have tried container gardening a few years ago. It turned out tragic. Now I’m in a2nd level apartment, and want to try a blueberry plant. MY question is about winterizing the barrel. I live in Southeast Pennsylvania, closer to Trenton, NJ. Can the barrel stay out on my patio all winter??? What protection needs to be applied?

Posted by Suzy Anderson on Nov. 22, 2014 at 5:31:51 AM

You will want to choose the Northern Highbush varieties, they will perform best outside in the East. During heavy snow, you might cover them with a frost blanket or if it is bitterly cold out. Varieties such as Patriot, Bluecrop or Jersey should do fine outside in the elements.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 01, 2014 at 4:10:15 PM


Do you have to bring the pot inside in the freezing winter months?

Posted by Crystal on Jan. 10, 2015 at 8:29:30 AM


Growing blueberries in containers would solve my problem of having alkaline soils where I live. But is there anything I can do to counteract our extremely alkaline water? Will blueberries work in an acidic medium if they’re constantly drenched with alkaline water?

Posted by Mel on Jan. 10, 2015 at 8:52:32 AM


I can see how acidifying the soil would be accomplished but if you have alkaline soil you likely also have alkaline water which over time would raise the pH and you’d end up with soil that is too alkaline again. How do you control for that to ensure that the soil stays sufficiently acidic?

Posted by Kristi on Jan. 10, 2015 at 10:18:02 AM


Love the blueberry-growing video. It would be helpful to get some ideas on how to implement automatic drip irrigation for the blueberries grown in the smart pots. I have a similar set-up and it is confusing to figure out the best configuration to get the hose line connecting between each pot. Use lots of L-shaped connectors to go up and down? or just have the hose connect from top of pot to top of pot with emitters on a stake in each pot? Looking for optimal choices here to simplify setup and ordering of parts. Thanks!!! Your information is so helpful in overcoming obstacles to organic gardening.

Posted by Karen on Jan. 10, 2015 at 10:35:28 AM

I would only be concerned if you live somewhere with bitterly cold temperatures. You just don’t want the soil in the pot to freeze. If you have a cold basement or garage you can move it in during sub-zero temps. Otherwise, try using a frost blanket over the plant.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jan. 12, 2015 at 11:53:42 AM

Yes, watering with alkaline water will alter the pH of your soil. I read a few posts about putting some peat moss in a bucket of water for a few days. This will bring the pH down. You might try measuring the water to see just how much peat moss you will need to bring the pH down.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jan. 12, 2015 at 12:00:45 PM

My idea would be to have your supply line run along the bottom of the smart pots (on the out side) and just use some 1/4 poly to run from the supply line up to the pot. From there you can use an emitter to deliver the right amount of water.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jan. 12, 2015 at 12:07:22 PM


I live in Ontario, Canada. I just bought a Vaccinium Corymbosum x angustifolium ‘Tophat’ from Home Depot. What should be the container size to grow it in? Do I have to have at least two plants to produce fruits?

Posted by Peter on May. 24, 2016 at 1:58:37 PM

Peter, the Top Hat stays small so you can put it in a 3-5 gallon pot. You get a better (heavier) crop if you have other varieties to cross pollinate. You will get fruit without other varieties but not as full.

Posted by Suzanne at on May. 24, 2016 at 5:21:54 PM


I’m just starting with blueberries this year. I purchased four bushes, each 3-4 years old. The varieties are Austin, Brightwelld, Delite, and Tifblue. I prepared the raised bed using organic tree/vegetable soil mixed with composted chicken coop straw. I added about 2” of peatmoss on top. Do you feel that the ph will be low enough considering this mix? Do I need more Peat moss? Suggestions?

I have one blackberry bush very near this raised bed in similar growing conditions (minus the peat moss) and it grows insanely well.

Thank you.

Posted by Becky on May. 25, 2016 at 6:46:42 PM

Becky, I could not guess if your pH is low enough with this mix. I would suggest to get something to test your pH. You can also lower the pH with things like sulfur or just use more peat moss.

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Posted by Conniesi on Jun. 23, 2016 at 11:39:58 PM


In the above article about planting blueberries in containers, the author states “You can also use the prepared acid soil mixes sold for rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias, like the Dr. Earth’s Acid Lovers Premium Soil.”

When I clicked on the Link provided in the article for the Dr. Earth’s Acid Lovers Premium soil, the product description includes a highlighted “Note: it is not recommended to use this mix on blueberries due to the content of redwood sawdust.”

You might want to re examine the advice provided in the article. I almost went to Home Depot to purchase that product for my new blueberry plants.

Posted by Gloria Boland on Jul. 01, 2016 at 6:58:44 PM

Gloria, the vendor changed the ingredients to this mix just recently, well after the article was written. You are correct about the mix and not using it with blueberries. We will make an edit to the article so people will not use this product with blueberries.

Posted by Suzanne at on Jul. 12, 2016 at 12:33:59 PM


I have a 1 gallon top hat and a one gallon pink lemonaid plant. both a nice size in the 1 gallon pot. Would it hurt to plant both of these together in a half whiskey barrel or do the each need their own barrel.

Posted by Don on Jul. 29, 2016 at 11:17:45 AM


Don, I think that the pink lemonade variety would eventually crowd out the top hat. The top hat does not get very big, but the other variety can get much larger. Would probably be ok for a couple of years though.

Posted by Suzanne on Aug. 23, 2016 at 1:08:37 PM

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