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I bought some gooseberries and planted them in some self-watering containers. They did well for a few weeks but now one has lost all of its leaves and the other is losing some leaves, while other leaves are turning yellow and brown. In short, they are not thriving.

I've moved the containers a few times to adjust the levels of sunlight -- one thing I tried was to put them next to currants, which are doing well -- but this hasn't helped. More recently, I added some additional compost, heavy on eggshells, with the idea that this would provide missing nutrients. Still no dice. Any ideas? If it is relevant, I live in Massachusetts, near Boston.

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There is no doubt that gooseberries, while preferring the open ground, can be grown successfully in containers, provided that:

  • you plant no more than one per container;

  • the container is large enough - ideally, at least 2 feet deep by 2 feet wide;

  • the compost is free-draining;

  • they are watered and fertilized regularly;

  • they are not over-watered (the soil should be slightly damp, never wet);

  • you keep an eye out for pests.

If several leaves are turning yellow (rather than brown which would suggest under-watering) and falling at the same time, I think this may be caused by over-watering; it is worth checking whether your container is delivering the right amount of water..

There is a very full article on growing gooseberries in pots here.

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From what I can remember from my childhood (we grew gooseberries in our back garden), gooseberries are a pretty large, rambling bush, therefore they need space (this definitely includes plenty of room beneath the ground so their root system can spread out...

So unless your containers are very! large, I would hazard a guess the gooseberries are pot-bound ie The roots haven't enough room and are choking themselves.

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