A good time to transplant blueberries from ground to containers
I have 4 blueberry bushes (small size cultivar 'top hat' that should reach 1 1/2 to 2 feet) that were planted in the ground last year. The 2 concerns I have are 1) I don't think they are in optimal acid soil for them. 2) They are currently planted in a spot that I'd like to put a raised garden bed before this spring. Would it be a good approach to dig them up and plant them in containers with special potting soil for acid-loving plants. Is this a good time of year to do that while they are without leaves?
Washington County Oregon
Thank you for your question to Ask an Expert about your Top Hat blueberries. Top Hat blueberries are a dwarf vairiety that is usually marketed as a patio containter plant. They are also very hardy (down to -30 degrees). You don't say when the plants were placed in the ground last year, but you certainly may be able to successfully plant them in pots using potting soil for acid-loving plants. You are right to be concerned about the pH level of your soil: poor plant growth from soil pH that is too high is the most common problem when growing blueberries in a home garden.
You may increase your chances for success by waiting to pot the plants until the weather warms up a bit, since the roots of potted plants will be colder that those of plants in the ground. It's too early to start working on your new garden bed, so no harm in waiting. Do replant while the blueberries are still dormant (before bud break). Blueberry roots are very fibrous and grow close to the surface, so be especially careful to keep them moist while you do the transplanting. Blueberries also like lots of mulch, so - even in pots - cover with several inches of mulch (sawdust or peat moss are good choices). For more informaiton on growing blueberries see the following publication from Oregon State University:
Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden
Good luck with your Blueberries!