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Putting Container Planted Berries to Bed

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

After a warm start, winter finally arrived in Louisville. So how do you protect those raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry plants bred for containers? Compact and easy to care, these plants dotted patios, balconies, courtyards, and backdoors across the country in 2017. These steps will make it just as easy to care for them during the winter.

  1. Apply a thin layer of compost (about one inch) to the surface of the soil. The compost will break down over winter, feeding microbes in the soil. Do not fertilize because this will encourage leafing out during warm spells.

  2. Wait until early spring to prune for shape or to remove damage canes. Many berries fruit on two-year-old canes, so pruned branches may wait a year to fruit.

  3. Insulate pots by wrapping them in chicken wire and stuffing the space in between with fall leaves or straw. Remove the insulation after the threat of prolonged cold has passed.

  4. Protect roots from freezing by sinking the pots up to their rim in a compost pile or even a trashcan filled with mulched leaves. Lift the pots out in the spring and place where desired.

  5. If you store container berry plants in an unheated attached garage or cold cellar, be sure to water sparingly. Move them back outside when the weather warms.

These tips are like a nice warm coat. They’ll keep your berries happy and robust. When warmer temperatures return and are reliable, give your plants a thorough watering, and then feed them. And count the days until spring.

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