Friday, October 04, 2013

GMG's Friday Find: Winter Care for Berry Plants

Photo Courtesy BrazelBerries(R)
I found myself jumping into the berry craze this year and scored a BrazelBerries® Jelly Bean™ blueberry plant from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery.  I planted my young Jelly Bean in a container on my deck and tended to it throughout the summer.  Now that autumn has arrived and the temperatures are beginning to dip, I needed to find out how to care for my prized plant through the winter to ensure it's coming spring into summer bounty. 

The BrazelBerries® Collection of compact berries includes two beautiful blueberries,  Jelly Bean™ and Peach Sorbet™ and a luscious dwarf raspberry, Raspberry Shortcake™.  If you're lucky to have picked one up this year, the following tips on how to overwinter will help you get the most from your berry plants once spring arrives.  It's easier than you think! Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Raspberry Shortcake(TM)
Photo Courtesy BrazelBerries(R)
For the Raspberry Shortcake™, overwintering involves nothing. That's right, nothing.  Whether in the ground or in a container, you simply let your plant go dormant in the winter. It will appear to be dead, but don't be fooled by its appearance. In the spring new green sprouts will come up from the soil and will appear on some of the canes.   In zones 5-9 you can safely leave your berry shrub outside.  The only caveat is if you experience really harsh winter weather.  If a freezing blizzard is in your forecast, simply move the potted berry into an unheated garage or basement.  For planted berries, insulate with a plant cover until the danger has passed. 

Peach Sorbet(TM)
Photo Courtesy BrazelBerries(R)
Winter care for the Peach Sorbet™ and Jelly Bean™ blueberries is easy too!  Once you've enjoyed the leaves color change and the plant goes dormant, do a little pruning.  You can take 1/4-1/3 off the plant so that all the plants energy goes into the good canes for maximizing fruit production. If you're uncertain which cane to cut just scrape a little bit of the cane off to see if it's green underneath.  If it is, leave it be.  If there is no green when scraped, cut the cane at ground or soil level.

Jelly Bean (TM)
Photo Courtesy BrazelBerries(R)
Peach Sorbet™ is hardy in zones 5-10 while Jelly Bean™  thrives in zones 4-8 giving it an even wider range for cold tolerance. If you live in an area with extreme cold temperatures, it's a good idea to mulch heavily around the base of the berry plant and water to produce more heat.  If in a container, you can move it against a building or bring it into an unheated garage, and if your plant is in the ground place a blanket or layer of insulation on top.  Be sure to remove the plant cover once the freezing weather is over. 

Taking good winter care of your berry plants doesn't involve much when you consider the benefits that come in the spring and summer when the bounty of yummy raspberries and blueberries are readily available.

We'd love to hear your thoughts and comments about overwintering these fabulous berry plants--if you were lucky enough to get one!  If not, spring is just around the corner.

~Peggy

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