Blueberries, a fan favorite! These plump, juicy, and very blue fruits are both delicious and nutritious! Blueberries are high in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. A bonus: these berries are some of the easiest to grow, assuming you have the right soil conditions! Whether you have simply dabbled in gardening or have a certified green thumb, growing blueberries is fun, simple, and fruitful (literally and figuratively).
In addition to the superfood nature of the fruit, they augment the beauty of your landscape as blueberry plants produce spring flowers.
There are four major varieties of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high, and rabbit-eye. The most popular of the group is the highbush. It is recommended to wait until mid-spring to plant. When it comes to purchasing your plant, 1-3 year-old plants are the best choice. They can be bought from a nursery or online.
When preparing for planting there are a few things to consider. First, you must find a sunny and sheltered spot. Although blueberries are tolerant of shade, a sunny spot produces better crops. The plants should not be exposed to harsh, dry winds. Also, be careful not to plant your blueberries near trees, as not only will it shade your plant, but it will also suck up any moisture in the soil, competing with your blueberries for nutrients. Conversely, blueberries like to be near EACHOTHER. When planting multiple bushes, it is best to plant them in a patch rather than scattered around a garden, as this will augment their berry production.
Blueberry bushes are shallow-rooted plants; therefore, they require a soil that both retains moisture and drains well.
Optimal Soil Conditions
Blueberries, unlike most other plants, actually require a soil with an acidic pH. If the pH of the soil is not between 4.0 and 5.0, the plant’s growth will be stunted. Most soils are in a more neutral range (6.0-7.5), so you will need to perform a soil test in advance to determine your PH and if you need to lower it to the proper range. “Because acidification can take some time,” says John Buckner, hobby blueberry farmer in Loxley, Alabama, “you will want to perform a soil test several months in advance of planting.”
Soil can be acidified during the preparation process by adding elemental (sometimes called wettable) sulfur. Peat moss and pine bark (or needles) may also be helpful. A final step in preparation is, like with most any plant site, adding organic matter to your soil. John adds, “to calculate the amount of Sulfur needed to lower your pH to the proper range, you should use a lab-based soil testing program.”
When mid-spring rolls around and it becomes time to plant, you must know some basics. Be careful not to plant too deep. The root ball should be just about a quarter to a half inch below the surface. Dig holes that are approximately 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide. This will provide sufficient room for your roots to embed in the soil. Space bushes 4-5 feet apart, in a row (with at least 8 feet between rows).
After Planting Care
Once you have planted your blueberries, do not apply fertilizer immediately. Wait to apply fertilizer until one month after planting.
After your plants begin to prosper, it is important to maintain an ideal environment for the berries to thrive in. Use a 2-4 inches layer of mulch. You can use wood chips, saw dust, or pine needles to keep the soil moist. Blueberries need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Your favorite fruit can be grown in your backyard with these simple steps! We hope you enjoy!