Plants of the Week - April 21st 2018


4/21/18   Plant Picks

This week, I have chosen a series of plants that have been specially selected for their smaller sizes (great for smaller gardens, container gardening, and easier to maintain), hardiness, good appearance, and great fruit production.  The series is called ‘Bushel and Berry’, and the plants are:


                  

            

All of the varieties in the Bushel and Berry™ collection are self-pollinating, meaning that they do not require another variety to be planted nearby in order to produce berries. While each of the Bushel and Berry™ plants can grow and produce fruit all by itself, planting more than one may further enhance fruit quality and production.

Does Bushel and Berry™ use GMO’s? Bushel and Berry™ does not use GMOs. All our breeding is done through traditional hybridizing—just like bees do it!  

What does "self-pollinating" mean? All of the varieties in the Bushel and Berry™ collection are self-pollinating, meaning that they do not require another variety to be planted nearby in order to produce berries. While each of the Bushel and Berry™ plants can grow and produce fruit all by itself, planting more than one may further enhance fruit quality and production.  

Should I fertilize Bushel and Berry™ plants? Fertilizing Bushel and Berry™ plants is not necessary for them to grow and produce tasty berries, however, it can help your plant thrive.  

For cane berries, a balanced liquid fertilizer in early and late spring is ideal. Look at the fertilizer container. The labels should include three numbers relating to Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (you’ll have the best results if you select a product with the same number for all three). 

For blueberries, an acidic fertilizer in early and late spring is ideal. Look for fertilizers such as rhododendron or azalea formulations, and either granular or liquid fertilizers. Blueberries also prefer high-nitrogen organic fertilizers such as blood meal and acidic cottonseed meal.  Tip: If your plants starts to yellow in the summer, a bit of balanced liquid fertilizer will help perk it up in addition to lots of water.  

How do I prune my berry plants?  For blackberries and raspberries, simply let your plant go dormant in the winter. In early spring, you should start to see new green sprouts coming up from both the soil and on some of the canes. The sprouts from the ground will become canes that fruit next year. Old canes with new growth emerging should fruit this year. Leave all the new shoots from the ground and old canes that have green leaves emerging. Prune all the dead canes with no new growth at ground level.  For blueberries, it’s best to prune in early spring when the blueberry plants are dormant. Pruning off dead wood or non-fruiting wood will allow the plant to put its energy into the good canes for maximizing fruit production. 

 I pruned my plants this spring and now I don't see any fruit?  Fruit will only appear on second year wood, so if you prune your plant in the spring you will not see fruit until the next year.  

How do I protect the berries in the winter? You don't have to do anything to these plants in the winter unless you have very harsh winter weather. Plants in decorative containers are more at risk than plants in the ground, so moving the container to an unheated garage is a good idea. You'll want to keep the soil moist but not soaked.  

How can I prevent critters from eating the berries? Birds and squirrels will be the largest nuisance to your Bushel and Berry™ plants as small critters love berries. One of the easiest ways to make sure there are enough berries is to plant more! Investing in mesh netting to deter hungry birds and squirrels can be helpful. Ask your local garden center for product suggestions.  

Do blueberries need acidic soil? Blueberries do best in an acidic soil with pH balance of 4.5-5.5. If you have a pH balance higher than 5.5, you can incorporate peat moss (or any soil acidifier product) into the soil which is acidic and can lower the pH balance. Dr. Earth® Acid Lovers® mix is a great way to lower the pH level. If growing in a container, pH levels should be checked every 6 weeks throughout the growing season and soil acidifiers should be added if the pH is not within the 4.5-5.5 range. 

What size container do I need to grow berries? All of the varieties in the Bushel and Berry™ collection will thrive in containers, raised beds or in the ground for years to come. If you decide to plant in a decorative container, we recommend blueberries be planted in a container that is 16-inches or larger in diameter to allow the plant room to grow and we recommend raspberries and blackberries be planted in a large pot as big as 24 to 36-inches.  Tip: Remember, plants and their roots in decorative containers dry out faster, especially on warm summer days. It’s important to water deeply every day and ensure the container has good drainage. A good way to gauge is to water until you see water coming out of the drain holes.  

How much sun do Bushel and Berry™ plants need? All berries need at least six hours of full sun to produce berries. Light shade is ok but they do not like intense evening sun.  

How often should I fertilize my blueberry plant in the container? Twice a year is ideal. Apply one dose early in the spring, prior to blooming and a second dose during the last weeks of spring. You may not need to add extra fertilizer if the blueberry plant is producing leaves, flowers and fruit well. If you want to spread out the fertilizer applications, apply a dose of fertilizer in spring and every two months for the remainder of the season until fruiting ends. Blueberries are sensitive to over fertilization, so please follow the instructions on the fertilizer you purchase.  

How often should I fertilize my blueberry plant in the ground? Twice a year is ideal. Apply one dose early in the spring, prior to blooming and a second dose during the last weeks of spring. You may not need to add extra fertilizer if the blueberry plant is producing leaves, flowers and fruit well. If you want to spread out the fertilizer applications, apply a dose of fertilizer in spring and every two months for the remainder of the season until fruiting ends. Blueberries are sensitive to over fertilization, so please follow the instructions on the fertilizer you purchase.  

How often should I acidify my blueberry plant in the container? Blueberries do best in an acidic soil with a pH balance of 4.5-5.5. If you have a pH balance higher than 5.5, you can incorporate peat moss (or any soil acidifier product) into the soil which is acidic and can lower the pH levels. Dr. Earth® Acid Lovers® mix is a great way to lower the pH level. Since the plant is growing in a container, pH levels should be checked every 6 weeks throughout the growing season and soil acidifiers should be added if the pH is not within the 4.5-5.5 range. 

How often should I acidify my blueberry plant in the ground? Blueberries do best in an acidic soil with a pH balance of 4.5-5.5. If you have a pH balance higher than 5.5, you can incorporate peat moss (or any soil acidifier product) into the soil which is acidic and can lower the pH levels. Dr. Earth® Acid Lovers® mix is a great way to lower the pH level. The pH level should be checked 60 days after the first amendment application and repeated until you achieve the correct pH level for the blueberries.   Raspberry Shortcake® and Baby Cakes™ perform best in a fairly neutral soil with a pH of 6.5–7.5. The soil and location should be well-drained and in full sun. In regions with extreme heat, these two varieties will perform best in afternoon shade to protect them from excessive heat.  winter care These two Bushel and Berry™ varieties require little winter maintenance and usually can be left outside. In cases of harsh winter weather, insulating the plant or moving the pot to an unheated garage is a good idea. While storing the plants inside, make sure to keep the soil moist but not soaked.

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