You don’t need a huge garden to grow your own fruit. In fact, berries are the perfect container crop for small spaces. Think wild strawberries in window boxes, trailing blackberries overflowing from hanging baskets and blueberries in pots on the patio. Not only will your container-grown berries provide colour, scent and interest throughout the summer, but you’ll also enjoy a wonderful harvest with which to make delicious jams and cordials to see you through the winter!
Here, blogger Sasha Ivanova shares her advice on the best berries to grow in a container garden. Browse our full range of fruit plants for even more inspiration.
I started my strawberry garden by propagating alpine (aka woodland) strawberries from seed. The seeds germinated quickly and easily in the spring and by the end of July I had a few plants growing in my window boxes. Their compact growing habit and shallow roots make woodland strawberries ideal for containers and hanging baskets. I love these little hard working plants. They always look cheerful and flower non-stop, even in winter! The berries are smaller than common garden strawberries but they’re packed with flavor and fragrance. On a hot day, a few freshly picked berries create an incredible aroma in your hands.
For a vertical edible garden, try new varieties of climbing strawberry plants. Strawberry ‘Mount Everest’ and Strawberry ‘Skyline’ produce runners up to 1m long that can be trained onto trellis or pea netting. The visual effect of a green wall dotted with shiny red berries is stunning, and the scent of strawberries in summer is delightful. With luck, slugs and snails will be too lazy to climb “Mount Everest” to get their pickings!
Climbing strawberries are also a great addition to patios and front gardens. They look fantastic growing in ‘Tower Pots’, trained into tall vertical columns. Position Tower Pots strategically around your patio to create unusual focal points. They draw the eye, making small spaces look more spacious, and you’ll have the added benefit of eating freshly picked berries when they’re ripe!
Grower’s tip: sprinkle alpine strawberry seeds on top of compost and don’t cover with soil as they need light to germinate. Find all the information you need to grow your own delicious strawberries over at our handy strawberry hub page.
Blueberries & cranberries
Growing blueberries and cranberries is easier than you might think. Given the right soil conditions, both will supply delicious berries year after year. Acid-loving plants, they will perform best if the soil pH is less than 5.
The easiest way to ensure a correct pH level is to grow blueberries and cranberries in pots filled with an ericaceous compost mixed with bark. Bark mulch will help to retain moisture in containers, needed for the plant’s shallow root system.
Blueberry ‘Bluecrop’ and Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are my favorite blueberry varieties. ‘Bluecrop’ is a compact bush, suitable for containers, with large bell-shaped cream flowers in the spring, blue-purple berries packed with antioxidants in the summer and colorful leaves in the autumn. ‘Pink Lemonade’ is the first pink blueberry! A truly unique variety with delicate pink flowers and sweet rose-pink berries – it’s loved by kids for its delicious sweet flavor and by grown-ups for its amazing appearance. Both varieties are self-fertile but having two or more plants will improve pollination and your harvest.
I also grow ‘Pilgrim’ cranberries, or rather they’re making a pilgrimage across my garden. I planted them last spring under pine trees but they quickly became overrun with weeds. The creeping cinquefoil weed intertwined with the crawling cranberries became impossible to bear, so this season I’m experimenting with a new method. I’m now planting cranberries in three hanging baskets positioned one below the other to create a cascading effect. Because cranberries send out runners, I’ll simply root these in the lower baskets to propagate new upright plants. Flowers and fruit are produced on upright plants so it’s worth rooting as many new shoots as possible for a good yield. The glowing red cranberries look amazing in the late autumn when all other colors have almost disappeared from the garden.
Grower’s tip: Water blueberries and cranberries with rainwater to help maintain the acidity of the soil.
Dwarf raspberries & blackberries
When I got my own small London garden, my dream was to plant a few raspberry and blackberry canes, but I did have a few concerns. Large thorny bushes spreading across the middle of the lawn wasn’t very appealing! However, with new fruit varieties available, it’s easy to grow your own berries even without a garden.
Trailing raspberries and blackberries are a perfect choice for hanging baskets and require less maintenance than flowers. They look wonderful hanging on the patio, balcony or by the front door, and you can pick delicious home-grown berries on your way in from work! For an interesting color mix, try pink raspberry ‘Ruby Falls’ and dark Blackberry ‘Black Cascade’.
Dwarf varieties like Blackberry ‘Opal’ and Raspberry ‘Summer Lovers Patio Red’ reach only 1m height and are good for growing in large containers. Their flowers attract honey bees and bumblebees and their bushy habit ensures a bumper harvest. An extra bonus, both trailing and dwarf varieties have thornless stems!
To learn more about raspberries including the best way to grow a bumper crop, head to our dedicated raspberry hub page.
Have you tried growing berries in pots or containers? Send us a photo and let us know how you got on. Tag us using #yourTMgarden.
Sasha Ivanova is an urban gardener, blogger, and martial artist. Passionate about propagation and growing from seed, she grows all her plants from her in a small London back yard. Her research on her has led her to cultivate unusual edible plants, as well as experimenting with fruit trees in what she describes as a ‘garden without trees’. Read more at her blog about her, londonplantology.substack.com
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