Blueberries are one of the only berry plants native to North America. While this doesn’t mean that they grow easily everywhere, varieties that are hardy in USDA hardiness zone 5a will grow successfully in northern Illinois. Choose from highbush (cultivated) or lowbush (wild) blueberry types and provide them with their desired living conditions. Keep in mind that blueberries have special needs, and will require your attention throughout their lifetime to be at their most productive. When cared for in this way, they will reward you and your local wildlife with many delicious berries for years.
Test your soil to determine its pH level. Blueberries do best in rather acidic soil, somewhere in the pH range of 4.8 to 5.2. Use a test kit or submit a soil sample to your local county extension office for testing. Always follow the kit’s or your extension office’s instructions regarding soil testing.
Dig a hole in an area of your yard that gets full sun. The hole should be as deep as the container holding your blueberry bush, and about twice as wide.
Dig in some compost. If your soil test determined that your soil was not acidic enough, dig in sulfur at the rate recommended by your test. If you are adding sulfur, wait at least a week after adding sulfur before planting your blueberry bush.
Plant the blueberry bush in the hole and cover the root ball with soil and compost. Water well and add mulch to a depth of 2 inches, leaving around 4 to 6 inches between the base of the bush and the start of the ring of mulch.
Prune once a year to encourage new, healthy growth. Fertilize according to package instructions with ammonium sulfate.