Growing Blueberries: A Plant for All Seasons

Jul 20, 2017
Growing Blueberries

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If you are thinking of adding a new flowering shrub to your landscape, why not consider a highbush blueberry?

Besides offering the beauty of its delicate bell-shaped flowers in the spring and its delicious sweet berries in the summer, it will add bright crimson foliage to your fall garden and its red stems will stand out against the snow in the winter. The blueberry is truly a plant for all seasons.

Healthy Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are second only to strawberries as the most popular berry in the US. According to USDA tests, blueberries contain the highest amount of antioxidants compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables. They are high in vitamin C and only 83 calories per cup. If that wasn’t enough, they also are nutritional dynamos, full of phytochemicals that aid vision, improve memory, support a healthy immune system, and are good for urinary tract health. What’s not to love about them?

Go Organic With Blueberries

Unfortunately, commercially grown blueberries are on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables that have high levels of pesticide residue in them. To be safe you really need to buy organically grown ones or grow your own.

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Blueberries are Easy to Grow

Highbush blueberries are easy to grow and relatively pest-free. They need full sun and well-drained, acidic soil with a pH of 4.5-5.2. Mulching them with rotted sawdust, wood chips, pine needles, or shredded leaves will encourage this level of acidity and help keep their shallow roots moist and cool. Yellow leaves indicate a lack of acidity in the soil. Soil pH can be lowered by adding elemental sulfur or peat moss to the soil.

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Bare-root shrubs are best planted in the spring but container-grown ones can be planted at any time. Space them 4-6 feet apart and don’t plant them any deeper than they grew in the pot.

Grow at least two different varieties for better pollination and higher yield.

Once they are established they are very long-lived, lasting 60 years or more!

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Depending on the variety, each bush will yield 4 to 8 quarts of fruit.

Blueberries should be fertilized sparingly in the spring, once the leaf buds begin to swell and again when the fruit starts to form.

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They need 1 to 2 inches of water a week while the berries are developing.

Anytime is a good time to add another edible plant to your landscape.

Read more on our Blueberry Plant Guide.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

Reader Comments

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Can't grow them

For the life of me I can't seem to get blueberries to grow in my garden. I bought one 2 years ago and I can't seem to get more than 5 berries and a couple of stems. I bought two last year and they don't seem to be coming back. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. My son loves blueberries and I want to have them available at any time to eat them. I planted a strawberry plant next to them in the same spot and it's already going like gang busters. Any suggestions?

Soil is the key to success

Soil is the key to success with any plant. Have yours tested and see what nutrients it lacks and what the pH is. Blueberries need acidic soil to grow and produce well. If the pH is too high the leaves will be yellow and the plants will struggle to grow. A site with full sun is best. They are very sensitive to drying out so they need plenty of water, especially in the early years. Mulching with wood chips or pine needles will help protect the roots and conserve moisture. It takes a few years for the plants to become established and begin to pump out the berries so after you have made any necessary soil corrections be patient. Eventually you should start to get the berries you are eagerly looking forward to!

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