Blueberries are my favorite type of berry so are therefore my favorite type of berry for growing in my apartment.
Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in an indoor garden due to the fact they can be grown successfully on a windowsill with limited light and the size of the bush is easily controlled with pruning.
Read this complete guide and you will learn exactly how I manage to easily grow a dwarf blueberry bush indoors in my apartment in the middle of the city and munch a load of blueberries in the process.
To grow blueberries indoors simply choose a dwarf variety and use a pot that is 12-18 inches deep. Place the bush somewhere that gets 6-8 hours of daylight. Keep the soil damp and use an acidic fertilizer when feeding. They will be ready to harvest between May and August.
What sort of blueberries are best for growing indoors?
Blueberries are one of the fruits I would recommend growing if you are a beginner to indoor gardening.
They don’t take much effort and produce a good amount of berries, even from a small indoor bush. Probably the most important question when deciding what variety to grow is what size will it grow to?
Varieties like the jersey Blueberry and Emerald Blueberry may be easy for a beginner to grow but they can grow to 6 feet high and 6 feet wide. Dwarf blueberry varieties are the best option for growing indoors.
A good choice for growing indoors would be the Top Hat variety, they are practically a bonsai plant and only grow to 18 inches tall.
The Northsky variety is a hardy blueberry suitable to most climates including cold and they only grow to around 18 inches. The Northblue variety grows to around 40 inches and has one of the highest yields amongst dwarf varieties.
The Sunshine Blue variety is an evergreen semi-dwarf variety and reaches a height of 48 inches.
Do your research and choose a variety that will thrive in your local climate.
Should I grow a blueberry bush from seed or buy a seedling?
Most people who decide to grow a blueberry bush do so from a cutting they have bought.
This is because if you grow a blueberry bush from seed it will take 2 – 3 years for the plant to produce any blueberries. Also, blueberry seeds that you may harvest from inside a blueberry are not reliable so they might never grow.
If you do want to grow a blueberry bush from a seed it is best to purchase seeds from a reputable supplier as they will have a higher chance of sprouting.
How to germinate blueberry seeds
To obtain blueberry seeds you will need to freeze whole blueberries for at least 90 days. This breaks the seeds nest period and will make them more likely to germinate.
Defrost them and put them in a blender with water and blend them for 10 seconds. The fruit will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom, remove the pulped fruit and you are left with the seeds.
Use a planter box or tub for germinating your seeds.
Spread some sphagnum commonly known as peat moss about 1 inch deep across the bottom of your box and give it a misting with water. Sprinkle your blueberry seeds across the peat moss then cover them with another thin layer so that some light still gets through and give it another misting with water.
Keep your seeds in a room that receives some light and is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Check your seeds and give them a misting every day, it’s important to keep them damp but not soaking.
When the seeds begin to sprout move the box into direct sunlight until the sprouts are about 3 inches tall when they will be ready to plant.
What sort of pot should I use for a blueberry bush?
Blueberries don’t have the biggest root system so if you are growing one plant in a pot then you should only need a pot or container that is around 12 – 18 inches deep.
The fact they can successfully grow in a fairly small pot is one of the reasons I would recommend them for growing indoors as they can easily fit on a window sill.
What sort of soil should I use for a blueberry bush?
Blueberries prefer a well-drained acidic soil that has organic matter such as peat moss, pine bark or needles mixed through it, by mixing your soil like this it helps to keep it acidic.
The pH of the soil should ideally be between 4 and 5. If the leaves on your blueberry bush turn yellow, that is a sign the pH of your soil is too high.
If you don’t want to mix your own soil you could purchase a 50/50 mix of potting soil and peat that would be ideal for growing a healthy blueberry bush that produces berries indoors.
How much light does a blueberry bush require?
The minimum amount of light blueberry plants require to grow healthy and produce berries is 6 – 8 hours of sunlight daily.
If your blueberry bush receives less light than the ideal amount they will still grow but they will grow slower and produce fewer berries.
If your blueberry bush receives less than 4 hours light that is the point they probably won’t produce any berries. As always I would recommend using an LED grow lamp to top up the light your bush receives if you want it to produce the maximum amount of berries.
How often should I water my blueberry bush in a container?
The ideal soil condition for blueberries is for the soil to be kept damp but not totally soaking.
How often you water your blueberry bush depends on your local climate, it’s probably best to check your bush daily during hot weather. When the soil on the top inch feels slightly dry, that is probably a good time to give it a water.
Always make sure your blueberry plant has good drainage (put some sort of dish under the pot) as they don’t like to be in sitting water and will likely die if they are for a prolonged time.
What temperature is best for an indoor blueberry bush?
There are all sorts of varieties of blueberries that are ideal for different climates.
Some varieties will thrive in hot weather and some will get too hot and possibly die whereas other northern varieties prefer a cooler climate.
Blueberries will survive just fine in a wide range of climates and I’m pretty sure the climate of your house will be just fine for growing blueberries indoors. When you are deciding what variety of blueberries indoors just make sure you choose a variety that is suitable for your local climate.
What is the best fertilizer for blueberry bush in a pot?
As blueberries like acidic soil, it is best to use an acidic fertilizer.
The ideal fertilizer to look for is one that contains ammonium sulfate or sulfur-coated urea as these tend to have a higher acidic value. You should also try and source a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen but make sure you never use a fertilizer that has nitrates in it as this type of fertilizer can kill some varieties of the blueberry bush.
You may want to test the pH of the soil before you decide what type of fertilizer you go with and consult an expert in your local garden center before buying specialist fertilizer.
How to prune an indoor blueberry bush in a pot
When you start growing a blueberry bush you probably won’t need to prune it for a couple of years.
For mature blueberry bushes should be pruning every year as it encourages growth in your bush. The best time to prune a blueberry bush is spring right before your bush is about to start growing for the year or autumn after the harvest.
When pruning first remove any dead or diseased branches then remove any low hanging branches that may hit the ground when laden with berries. Fresh canes in your bush will be the most productive when it comes to producing fruits so you should cut off any canes that are more than 6 years old to encourage fresh more productive canes to grow.
How to pollinate a blueberry bush?
When you are choosing what variety of blueberry bush to grow you should always choose a self-pollinating variety unless you want to plant 2 bushes.
If your bush has lots of flowers fall off without producing fruits, this is a sign you may need to help with pollination.
To do this simply use a small paint brush to brush the pollen from one flower into the female part of another flower. Go round your bush and do this and you will see a greater yield of berries even for self-pollinating varieties.
Should I thin out any heavy clusters of blueberries?
The process of thinning out how many blueberries grow should really be dealt with when you are pruning your bush.
The berries are too small and fidgety to cut off individually.
As long as you have pruned your bush properly the canes that are left should produce tasty berries that are a healthy size.
When to pick blueberries from the bush
Blueberries are one of the simplest fruits to tell when the right time to harvest is.
The berries will turn blue and should practically fall off into your hand.
Depending on the variety you have chosen to grow and what your local climate is the time to harvest could be anywhere from late May through to mid-August.
How to best store fresh picked blueberries
If you want to store your blueberries in the fridge it is best to use a wooden or plastic dish, definitely, don’t use a metal container as that can encourage mold.
Remove any berries that have any signs of white mold or are too soft and line your dish with paper towels to help soak up any moisture. Place your berries in the bottom part of the fridge as the top may be too cold and damage your harvest. Berries stored this way can last 5 – 10 days.
If you want to store your berries in the freezer line a dish with parchment paper, spread them out in a single layer and put them in the freezer for 2 – 3 hours until frozen.
At this stage take them out and put them in a sealable bag and put them back in the freezer, this stops them all freezing together into one big clump. Blueberries frozen like this can stay good to eat for up to one year.
What to do if your blueberry bush stops producing fruit
If your blueberry bush has stopped producing fruit the first thing I would make sure is that your bush is getting enough sunlight.
Check that the variety you have chosen to grow is a self-pollinating variety otherwise you would need 2 blueberry bushes in order for them to pollinate each other.
If you have a mature plant it may stop producing berries because of lack of new growth. To solve this you will have to give it a pretty severe pruning. Remove between ⅓ and ½ of the wood on your bush, this will encourage new growth and its the new growth that produces the berries.
To grow a blueberry bush outdoors
If you wish to grow a blueberry bush outdoors you should plant it somewhere that receives as much sun as possible, has well-draining acidic soil and is sheltered from the wind.
The pH of your soil needs to be 5.5 or lower. If your soil is above this you could add sulfur chips to the soil prior to planting in order to lower the pH.
If the soil in your garden is too alkaline you may not be able to grow a blueberry bush and you may have to grow it in a container instead.
Common blueberry bush problems and how to solve them
Blueberries are easy to grow but like all plants, they can suffer from diseases that you will have to act promptly to treat if you want to stop it spreading through your whole crop. Here are some of them:
Powdery Mildew – This looks like a white powder that will spread over this surface of the leaves on your bush. The leaves will eventually stop growing and become shriveled. To solve this make sure you are giving your blueberry bush enough water and if possible try and keep it in cooler conditions.
Brown Rot – When this has affected your bush the new tips that have grown will start to wilt and dry out before any blossom happens on them. The berries will turn yellow, firm and leathery and will eventually turn dark and mummify. To treat this prune off all affected branches and get a brown rot treatment from your local garden center.
Botrytis Blight – This appears like a gray hairy mold that will rot the blossoms, berries when they are green and ripening and will even continue to spread on your blueberries after you have harvested them. To treat this disease you will need to purchase a spray from your local garden center.
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