Make These New Blueberry Varieties Your Go-To for Hanging Baskets

These compact blueberries offer sweet fruit in summer, plus pretty fall color. 

Blueberries are among the easiest fruits to grow yourself, and now you can even grow blueberry bushes in hanging baskets. Two new varieties from Bushel and Berry: Midnight Cascade and Sapphire Cascade are just the right size for growing in hanging baskets and other containers. Plus, their branches tend to grow outward and downward, so they'll trail over the sides. Both Cascade blueberry varieties will produce fruit all summer until your area's first frost. These small shrubs will give you a tasty harvest without needing a lot of space. And these blueberry plants also have pretty spring flowers and bright fall foliage to sweeten the deal.

blueberry plant in hanging basket
Midnight Cascade blueberry looks beautiful in a hanging basket. Courtesy of Bushel and Berry

According to Kristen Pullen, woody and edibles ornamental program manager at Bushel and Berry, the new Cascade blueberry varieties for hanging baskets are exciting because they're both edible and ornamental. "As edibles have been taking off as a trend, there's also the whole edible landscape side of things," Pullen says. "So you not only have an ornamental for the landscape, but an edible, too." These new Cascade blueberries are both varieties of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) that were bred to stay compact and have weeping or trailing branches. In addition to growing these blueberry bushes in hanging baskets, Pullen says they also work well as a groundcover or creeping over a low wall.

Growing Blueberries in Hanging Baskets

Both Midnight Cascade and Sapphire Cascade are available in garden centers across the country, as well as from online retailers. They usually come as small starter plants, so you may want to get three plants to fill up a 12 to 16-inch hanging basket at first. As they grow to their mature size of about 18-24 inches tall and wide, you can move them into their own individual hanging baskets or other containers. Make sure to use a potting mix made for acid-loving plants and only use pots with drainage holes. If you want to plant Cascade blueberries directly in the ground, they are hardy in Zones 5-9, meaning they will survive the winter outdoors.

Midnight Cascade and Sapphire Cascade blueberries prefer full sun, or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Hanging your blueberries from an arbor or the edge of a south-facing porch or balcony would work well. Water two or three times a week, or whenever the soil feels dry. The plants benefit from a liquid acidic fertilizer twice a year; once in spring as new growth appears, and once in midsummer.

It takes Cascade blueberries 2-3 years to begin fruiting after their first year. Some types of blueberries need more than one plant so they can cross-pollinate to produce fruit, but Cascade blueberries can self-pollinate. However, they tend to produce more fruit when you grow at least two Cascade plants together or near another highbush blueberry variety so they can pollinate each other.

Cascade blueberry bushes also require 450 chill hours in order to fruit. This just means the plants need exposure to temperatures below 45°F over the winter for a cumulative amount of time equal to at least 450 hours (about 19 days). The plants naturally will receive this chill requirement outdoors in their hardiness range. However, Bushel and Berry recommends bringing your hanging basket blueberries indoors in very cold areas, so make sure to keep your plants in an unheated garage or shed that stays chilly over the winter.

Sweet Fruit and Fall Color

After the flowers appear in late spring, fruit will start ripening on your Cascade blueberries in June. Both varieties produce medium-size, sweet berries. Pullen says Sapphire Cascade fruit has a more classic blueberry flavor and Midnight Cascade berries have a hint of vanilla. Each plant will give you several handfuls of blueberries over the summer, perfect for adding to drinks and smoothies, tossing into a classic pancake mix, and just enjoying fresh or frozen as a snack.

Even when not fruiting, Cascade blueberries look beautiful in hanging baskets. "You're getting, outside of the summer fruit, spring flowers and fall foliage color," Pullen says. "In the fall, they turn a really pretty dark burgundy red color. And then an abundance of bell-shape white flowers in the spring."

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