Gardening How-To: Growing & Repotting Blueberries in Idaho

Container of blueberries and strawberries ready to repot

Blueberries and strawberries before repotting

I grow blueberries in Idaho. This is not their preferred environment. Blueberries like warm, humid swamps in the eastern part of the USA. The biggest problem is that swamps, by their very nature, have acidic soil and the high desert of Idaho is decidedly not acidic soil. In fact, the soil here is the very opposite — alkaline!

To solve this problem, I grow my blueberries in containers with half potting soil and half peat moss for acidity and better water retention. I have been growing four different varieties of blueberries, Patriot, North Country, Northland, and Jersey (not quite sure about the last one, the tag is lost) to see which does best.

Well, this year, I didn’t get any fruit, and the leaves on 3 of the plants (in separate containers) were showing signs of low iron. The hard water reduces the acid level in the soil and makes it alkaline, inhibiting the uptake of iron for the plant.  So I decided I would change out the soil and add a fertilizer with high levels of phosphorous (for fruit production), sulfur (to release iron in the soil), and iron for those 3 pots. North Country is obviously the best choice for my area, since I have had it the longest (a year longer than the other 3) and I still have not needed to change the soil. I decided just to give it the fertilizer, since the leaves are looking good still.

So how did I repot my blueberries and change the soil? See below for the answer in photos. (I also grow strawberries in the pots, so you’ll see the strawberries being divided, too.)

  1. Remove blueberry plant from pot

    Remove blueberry plant from pot

  2. Tools and Supplies for repotting

    Tools and Supplies for repotting {I didn’t use the sulfur because the fertilizer (not shown) was high sulfur}

  3. Open up the root ball

    Open up the root ball

  4. Remove unneccesary soil

    Remove unneccesary soil

  5. Ready to repot with root ball cleaned of extraneous soil

    Ready to repot

  6. Pot with potting soil

    Fill the pot halfway with potting soil

  7. Add peat moss

    Add peat moss

  8. Add fertilizer

    Add fertilizer {If you are in eastern Idaho, I am using Town & Country’s Fruit & Flower Food — only available locally and specially formulated for our soil and water conditions}

  9. Mix all the soil together

    Mix all the soil and fertilizer together — use gloves or the phosphorous & sulfur will make your hands smell terrible

  10. Add blueberry plant

    Add blueberry plant

  11. Now cover the blueberry rootball with potting soil. Be sure to completely cover the crown of the rootball.
    The rootball's crown is showing

    You’re not done yet when it looks like this! The crown is still showing — the soil slopes down from the plant to the edge of the pot.

    Finished crown covered

    This is finished. The crown is covered and the soil is level.

  12. Now for the strawberries.
    The strawberries' root ball ready to have the excess soil removed

    The strawberries’ root ball ready to have the excess soil removed and the strawberries divided.

    Strawberry plants divided

    Strawberry plants divided

  13. Then add some of the strawberries back to the blueberry pot. There were more strawberries than I needed for that, so I made another pot of strawberries, which I unfortunately did not get photos of.

    Add strawberries to the blueberry pot

    Add strawberries to the blueberry pot

  14. All done! Give everything a big drink of water! {The water will compact the new soil slightly, so be sure the crown is still covered and fill in any holes with more potting soil.}
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  2. I have a couple of blueberries bushes – very young, but there is a farm near us and he has bushes 11 yrs and older – incredible berries. By the way I live in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Fascinating what you did. It will be worth it, blueberries grown with love are the best.

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