With glossy green leaves, white spring flowers, an upright habit and bright red fall foliage, blueberry bushes are ornamental as well as productive. They do, however, have fairly specific environmental requirements, so companion plants should be selected carefully. In a mixed perennial border, shrubby blueberry bushes provide a 5 to 20 foot tall backdrop that combines well with other acid-loving plants.
Test your soil. Blueberries need acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Simple-to-use soil tests are available at nursery and home supply stores. Your local county extension offers soil tests as well; they can help you interpret your results for the most effective program for your area.
Space blueberries 4 to 6 feet apart. While most blueberries are self-pollinating, a mix of several varieties will improve fruit production.
Plant blueberries in a dormant state. In the fall, plant blueberries after growth has stopped. If you are planting in the spring, do so before growth has restarted.
Fertilize your plants. Your soil test will determine the best fertilizer for your specific growing conditions, but a general purpose “acid-loving” fertilizer (6-4-4) will keep soil pH at an acceptable level for most plants.
Protect shallow roots. Blueberries have shallow root systems and can be damaged if you till too closely. Use a gentle hand when mixing in compost or fertilizer around the base of your plants.
Mulch to retain water. Shallow-rooted blueberries are vulnerable to swings in soil moisture. Apply a 6 to 8 inch layer of wood chips or peat moss to help keep moisture levels stable. Give your plants at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Use acid-loving perennials to complete your border or bed. Plant woody shrubs like azalea, clethra, mountain laurel, rhododendron and heathers as companion plants. Herbaceous perennials that thrive in the acid soil preferred by blueberries include lily-of-the-valley, creeping phlox, bleeding heart and gayfeather. If your plans include larger trees, consider cedar, ash, oak, fir, pine and spruce trees.