Growing blueberries

If it were up to me every part of my landscaping would be edible.  Though my homeowners association may disagree with me but blueberry bushes looks just as nice as any ornamental plant/bush when you visit the nursery with the obvious bonus of free food.

When selecting a blueberry bush, unless you are very patient spend about $10 a plant and get some more established ones (about 1/2 inch stem) You can get the two for $10 plants from your local Home Depot but you won’t be eating blueberries for a couple years.  With the larger plants you should pinch off the blossoms to get better growth for the first couple years but I opt to getting my reward now instead of later and enjoy the handful of berries the young plants can produce.

When it comes to plant selection there are a large number of species to choose from with varying fruit size and harvest timing.  I would recommend getting varieties that have varying maturity dates so you can enjoy those blueberries for a longer period of time.  When I got my first two plants I went with Toro and Berkeley.  The Berkeley is a very popular bush given it produces average size berries great for muffins/pancakes/cereal or the occasional snack with a mid-late harvest.  The Toro on the other hand produces large (almost grape size) berries which are great for jams and snacks though bit of a mouthful for muffins.  If you are curious of other varieties here is a great resource.

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I have heard differing opinions on whether you need to have different species to successfully produce fruit after a little research I found this article which explains that blueberries are capable of pollinating with a single species, though studies have shown that having more varieties can produce larger and earlier fruits.  So if you have a favorite variety you can go crazy with the single plant though a little diversity seems to always be a good thing.

When it comes to pest control the biggest pest is birds.  You can control them by laying some netting on the plants, though in my personal opinion that just gets in the way of me getting my snacks so I opt for the lazy approach and just plant more plants and share with “neighbors”.  Worse case I end up with a backyard with some bushes that look much nicer than my current evergreens, and I always can take up bird watching.

One of the most important parts to being successful with your little blueberry plants is soil preparation.  The plants need to have an acidic soil and their roots like to remain moist, but not drowning in water.  Given my area has an abundance of clay in my backyard, I naturally do not have either of these requirements.  To give the plants a head start I dug a 1 foot wide/deep hole and filled it with peat moss and mixed with a few handfuls of compost.  Not only will this retain water well, but the peat moss is also naturally acidic and will be a nice haven for a large family of worms in the next few years to add some awesome natural fertilizer (worm castings)  Last I purchased I box of organic blueberry fertilizer which provides the primary and trace minerals as well as help keep the acidity of the soil up.  I simply followed the directions on the box and watered the plants when there was a couple of days without rain.

Now some of you might be thinking, “hey it is fall why are you talking about growing blueberries”  Well this is the “Cheap Vegetable Gardener, right now is a great time to visit your local nursery to pick up some of their “old overgrown” blueberry plants at bargain prices which you can plant now and enjoy some delicious berries next spring/summer.

9 Responses to “Growing blueberries”

  1. Chiot's Run Says:

    I just added 4 more blueberry bushes to my front foundation garden (in addition to the 6 I already have out back). They turn a beautiful shade of red this time of year. I think they look a lot like burning bushes.


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Same here, my blueberry plants remind me of our "Halloween berry" plant. Though I am sure I would get a little sick if I tried eating the "Halloween berries"


  3. vrtlarica Says:

    For blueberries you need acidic soil, and if you have that – then great! But in my case, I was not so lucky, I had 4 bushes and they dried after 2 years (i was adding acidic mulch so this kept them running).


  4. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    vrtlarica, thanks for the mention. I can't believe I actually left out the plant instructions. Post above should be updated now. Though blueberries prefer acidic soils they are pretty hardy under a decent levels of pH. Was your watering consistent too much water can lead to their roots rotting, not watering often enough due to their shallow roots can cause a pretty quick death, especially first couple years until they get more established. Digging a big hole and filling with peat moss should give your plants a good head start though.


  5. xathras Says:

    I've had blueberries in pots at my apartment for the last 4 years. I keep the soil acidic by dumping my coffee grounds on them every morning. They're growing and producing more and tastier berries each year.


  6. vrtlarica Says:

    To answer: my blueberries also were lacking watering this summer, probably. It was a combination of things.


  7. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    xathras, sounds like the coffee grounds are working good for you. Though used coffee grounds should have a neutral pH, though unused does have a little bit of acid in them. Though I have heard others have similiar results, so there must be something in those grounds they like.


  8. Antique_blush Says:

    I currently live in an apt and the blueberry plants at lowes or home depot said they require quite the large amount of space to grow. What are my options with growing blueberries in containers indoors? Are there certain varieties suited for this?


  9. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Antique_blush, I guess it is possibly though I would say it would be one of the harder plants to do so. Mature they will take up an area of 3 feet wide and would require hand polination of all the berries…


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