What to Look For When Selecting Blueberry Bushes

If you have space in your garden, one way to put it to good use is with a few blueberry plants. Although blueberry plants won't bear fruit for two or three years, once they're established, they'll provide hundreds of fresh blueberries for snacking every year, or for incorporating into delicious muffin, pancakes or pies. Growing blueberries is relatively simple, and the all-important first step is starting with the best plants.

Plan Ahead Before Purchasing Blueberry Plants

Think about your reasons for growing blueberries before you purchase plants. If you want small berries that will be delicious in pancakes and muffins, the plants will be different than those that produce large fruit that will work well for snacking or in desserts. Some plants not only produce fruit, but are also decorative, providing brilliant colors during the autumn months. There are choices for every preference, and you aren't limited to just one variety.

Buy From Reputable Growers

Purchase blueberry plants from reputable nurseries or professional blueberry growers who sell healthy plants that are guaranteed to be free of disease and fungus. Although it's possible to purchase plants from a wide variety of sources, a local grower will be likely to honor its guarantee, and will offer plants that will do well in your area.

Purchase Well-Established Plants

Blueberry plants should be well-established, and should be grown in 1-gallon or larger containers. Plants that are at least two years old will survive the transplant to their permanent growing site better than younger, smaller plants. Two-year-old plants should be 24 to 30 inches tall, and three-year-old plants should be 36 to 46 inches tall. Purchase full, healthy bushes with bright green leaves, and avoid those that look unhealthy, and those that are thin and spindly.

Consider Available Space

There are a variety of blueberry bushes in a wide range of sizes. Some varieties will be short and compact and will do better in confined areas or containers. Others will be upright and full-size, and will require more growing space as they mature. Some varieties will remain relatively short, but will spread out. Blueberries plants can live for many years, and planting varieties suitable for your available space will mean fewer headaches down the road.

Purchase Blueberry Plants for Your Climate

Look for blueberry plants that are right for your climate. Plants that will do well in sub-zero winter climates will suffer from excessive heat in warm climates, and blueberries bred for warm climates will freeze easily in cooler, northern climates that require plants with an early harvest.

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About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.