How to Raise Blueberries

Overview

There are few activities more enjoyable than eating juicy blueberries right off the bush and, since the shrubs are attractive ornamentals, they fit right into most home gardens. Hybrids of native North American species, modern blueberries come in a wide number of varieties, some suited to a southern climate, some best in northern conditions.

Starting Out Well

Step 1

First, choose a site for your blueberry patch. They like sun, but will take some shade in areas of strong and reliable sunlight. They also like soil that drains freely but has enough organic matter in it to stay moist. The shrubs may become 3-6 feet high at maturity and equally as wide, so give them room to grow, at least 3 feet away in each direction from walls or other shrubs.

Step 2

Buy your plants from a local nursery. They will have the proper varieties for your area of the country. Though one bush will bear berries, you'll have larger and more reliable crops through cross-pollinization if you plant more than one variety.

Step 3

Dig a hole 1 1/2 feet deep and 2 feet wide for each plant. Moisten your peat moss and add a gallon of the moist moss to the soil you remove from the hole. Mix well. Blueberries like an acid soil, around a pH of 5, and the moss will help to acidify the soil as well as adding organic matter to hold moisture. Alternatively, if your soil is heavy or constantly wet, create a mound at least 3 feet across, out of soil mixed with peat moss. This will be your planting bed.

Step 4

Set your small blueberry plants in the hole (or in the mound) so that the top of the rootball is at the same level at the top of your planting bed. Push soil around the roots, making sure there are no pockets of air remaining as you fill the hole. Water well. Mulch with several inches of straw, ground bark or sawdust to keep weeds from sprouting.

Step 5

Keep well watered throughout the year, and well weeded. Blueberries have fine dense root systems that cannot compete for nutrients with grass or other weeds. Fertilize once in spring and once in early summer with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your soil is neutral to alkaline, you may need to add more peat moss to achieve the right acidity. An inexpensive pH kit works well for testing.

Things You'll Need

  • Two blueberry plants, of different varieties
  • Shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Straw, ground bark or sawdust
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer

References

  • Blueberries - A Summer Delight
  • Blueberry Plants Productive When Plants Get A Raise
Keywords: growing blueberries, small fruits, blueberry bushes

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.