How to Grow Raspberries & Blueberries Together in Clay Soil

Overview

Blueberries thrive in a highly acidic soil environment with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Raspberries prefer a slightly more alkaline environment with a pH or 5.6 to 6.6, but because raspberries are hardier then blueberries, aim for a soil pH of around 5.2 to 5.5 if you're going to grow them together. Both raspberries and blueberries need well-draining loamy soil; adding organic matter to heavy clay will improve the soil environment for both plant species. Efforts to improve soil before planting will increase plant health and harvest in coming years.

Step 1

Spread a 3 to 6-inch layer of organic matter--such as compost, seasoned manure or peat moss--over the surface of the planting area. Work the organic material 8 inches into the soil using a garden fork or shovel. Add 1 to 2 inches each of perlite and coarse, clean sand to the top of the bed; continue working the materials into the soil until it is evenly mixed.

Step 2

Altering the pH of the soil can take up to six months, so start well before planting time. If the soil has a high-pH, low-acidic level, the University of Oregon recommends adding ground sulfur to adjust the soil.

Step 3

Plant blueberries between October and April, whenever the ground is workable. Dig holes 4 to 5 feet apart for the blueberry plants. Make the holes slightly wider and 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch deeper than the nursery pots the plants are in. Turn the pots on their sides and gently pull the root ball free.

Step 4

Place one blueberry plant in each hole 1/2 to 3/4 inches deeper than they were in the nursery pots and fill in the soil around it. Pat down the soil firmly to fill in any air pockets.

Step 5

Plant raspberry crowns in the spring after the last frost. Space the planting holes 2 to 3 feet apart in a row. Make the holes slightly larger, and as deep, as the root ball of the plants. Do not let the roots dry out before planting.

Step 6

Slide the raspberry plants out of the nursery pots; if you have to wiggle them out by the stems, wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from the sharp thorns. Put one plant in each hole with the base of the stem level with the surrounding area. Fill in the soil and press it down firmly with your hands or the heel of your shoe.

Step 7

Water the blueberries and raspberry plants until the soil is damp to the base of each planting hole; spread a 4-inch layer of mulch around the plants to keep moisture close to the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Perlite
  • Coarse sand
  • Soil test kit
  • Sulfur (if needed)
  • Mulch
  • Plastic barrier

References

  • University of Minnesota: Amending Soil for Perennial Beds
  • University of Oregon: Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Growing Raspberries and Blackberries
Keywords: growing berries, planting berries, blueberries and raspberries, amending soil, soil improvement

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.