Blueberries bring a unique combination of delicious fruit and striking beauty to any garden. Being relatively easy to grow (given the right conditions), they make a great choice for gardeners looking to start growing fruit. Today we’ll be looking at how you can start growing blueberries indoors.
Blueberries also make an excellent outdoor plant for the summer or in warmer climates. Many of these same tips will apply to the outdoor gardener as well, or for those who move them to pots indoors for the winter. Growing blueberries both indoors and outdoors can actually be easier than ones grown solely indoors. In any case, it’s certainly possible to cultivate delicious berries grown solely indoors, and that will be our primary focus.
Choosing a Variety
First, you’ll want to pick a good variety of blueberries to start from. There are dozen of different kinds to start with, but you’ll want to look for “lowbrush” or “dwarf” varieties.
These varieties typically grow a bit smaller, which is generally what we want when growing in containers. This makes them easier to care for and allows us to grow them in smaller, indoor spaces. Varieties like “Top Hat” or “Northblue” are very popular and great choices for indoor growing.
Container and Soil
You’ll want to choose a rather large and deep container for your blueberry plant. Look for one that is at least 18″ deep to provide enough room for root growth. As we’ll touch on later, you’ll want to have at least two plants for pollination, but give each one its own container to grow in.
One interesting aspect of blueberries is that they prefer acidic soil. There are many specialty-made soils for blueberries (and other acidic-loving plants) that make getting the right PH level easy. You can also incorporate something like peat moss into the soil to help get the right level as well.
Do not attempt to plant them in standard potting soil or you’ll likely end up with less-than-ideal plants. This will also negatively affect their ability to bear healthy fruit. Look for specifically acidic soil to ensure a proper growing environment for your plant, or make sure to adjust the soil’s PH accordingly.
Like most other fruits, blueberries grow best when getting a full 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If indoors, placing them in front of a window that gets southern exposure is usually the best bet. A good grow light can also be used as a substitute.
Ample light is absolutely crucial if you wish for the plant to bear fruit. Take care to plan its location beforehand or be prepared to set up alternative means of lighting. Lack of light is often a big reason why a blueberry won’t bear fruit and has disappointed countless gardeners. If your plant seems healthy, but hasn’t flowered and produced fruit, then lack of light is almost always the problem.
Blueberries need ample water to grow properly. Underwatered blueberries will not produce fruit and will likely appear sickly. Blueberries enjoy moist soil, but not soil that is overly damp. You’ll want to make sure that your soil and container are well draining so that the plant can be watered often without the soil holding too much water afterward. It’s not a bad idea to add an inch or two of small pebbles at the bottom of your container to help with this.
Every few days, check to ensure that the top few inches of soil are moist, but not soggy. If it’s dry, give it a bit of water, then check again in a few days. It’s very important not to let the soil go dry, so be diligent in checking. Blueberries should be checked more often than many other plants as they are very sensitive to water levels. You’ll generally be giving your plant frequent small waterings.
Fertilizer and Pollination
Blueberries are pretty hardy and don’t require much fertilization. Fertilizing twice a year is generally a good rule of thumb. Once in the spring, and again in the fall. Using a fertilizer specifically designed for fruits or berries is a good choice to prevent over-fertilizing. Outside of that, you can dilute a fertilizer to half-strength or use slow-release capsules when growing in containers.
In order for blueberries to bear fruits they will need to be properly pollinated. This is why it’s suggested to grow at least two different blueberry plants near each other. While many blueberry varieties can self-pollinate, it’s shown that having multiple plants increases the size of the yields.
If you’re leaving your plants outside simply place them within a few feet of each other and the wind and insects will naturally cross-pollinate. If indoors you should take pollen from one plant and bring it to the other frequently during the growing season. This will ensure that the plant gets properly pollinated and you’ll be rewarded with large fruit yields. You can use a q-tip or other soft device to do so. Simply rub the flower of one plant, and then do so again with the other plant.
There are several different kinds of blueberry plants, but the majority like several months of cooler temperatures. This gives them a few months to go dormant, after which they come back into full bloom. This simulates the natural environment that blueberries grow in.
In the winter this may mean keeping them in a room that’s a bit colder. In some cases, blueberries need closer to freezing temperatures, so moving them to a garage or similar is perfectly fine. In some cooler climates, these varieties can survive living outside over the winter if protected from harsh winds.
Always check your specific variety though as not all enjoy the same degree of cold.
Harvesting and Pruning Blueberries
Blueberries typically take several years before they’re ready to bear fruit. They will generally begin to do so in their second year, but can take 4-6 for full production. For those looking to harvest sooner, it’s advised to buy a plant that is already a few years old, although this is more expensive than starting from seeds.
Blueberries are very easy to harvest. First, wait until the blueberries turn blue; don’t harvest them quite yet. Give them a few more days, then check back. You should be able to gently pull the berries off the plant, it should feel like they are falling off into your hand. If not, then give them a few more days and try again.
Blueberries don’t need to be pruned until 3-5 years after planting. At this point, gently cut back any bushy areas, dead branches, and low-hanging areas. Doing so will encourage growth in the following year. The best time to prune is late winter, right before the plant leaves its dormant state.
Growing Blueberries Indoors
Growing blueberries indoors can be a rewarding and tasty experience. Hopefully, these tips have helped to get started on the right path to growing your own delicious fruits! Let us know if you’ve tried this out for yourself!
Growing Blueberries Indoors FAQ
What Type Of Soil Do Blueberries Need?
Blueberries like slightly acidic soil. It’s best to use acidic leaning soil and check it often to ensure that it stays in the proper PH range.
Do Blueberries Self Pollinate?
Many varieties of blueberries do self-pollinate, but you’ll get larger fruit yields if you allow different varieties to cross-pollinate.
Can You Grow Blueberries Indoors?
Yes! Blueberries grow very well indoors and in containers. It is actually easier in a lot of cases as you’ll have more control over the PH level of the soil which is a major factor in blueberry growth.
How Long Does it Take a Blueberry Plant To Bear Fruit?
It takes about 2 years for the first fruit to appear, but expect to wait 3-5 years before it will produce a full harvest.