Summer Crop: How to Grow Blueberries

Ornamental, versatile, edible, and highly healthy — blueberries tick all of the must-have boxes for a high landscape plant. Using their pink-white spring blossoms, blue berries throughout the summer, and red or yellow fall color, they make a three-season splash in the garden. They can blend into a standard vegetable garden with no problem, but they also make superb ornamental shrubs or, implanted tightly, an edible hedge. Some increase low enough to work as a ground cover.

Though versatile, blueberries are somewhat picky. They want acidic soil and might require more care than many other edibles. They are also famous not to be an perfect plant for warm-winter climates, to the dismay of several blueberry lovers.The latter, however, is getting less of a problem as new varieties are constantly being developed.

Highbush blueberries are the giants of their household, reaching around 7 to 12 feet tall. These are the conventional blueberries you’ll see in grocery stores. Northern highbush blueberries are chilly lovers; southern highbush blueberries are hybrids that are low-chill and shorter; they do well in warmer climates. The very cold-hardy lowbush blueberries are much shorter, as their title suggests, generally only as much as two feet tall with dwarf varieties which can be even shorter. Half-high blueberry hybrids split the gap, generally growing between 2 to 4 ft.

Rabbiteye blueberries as well brief; a native of the American Southeast, they are a good choice for the western and southern U.S. because they don’t head warmer temperatures and frequently do better in less acidic dirt. If saltwater land is a problem in your region, you can develop blueberries in containers as well.

Plan to plant at least two kinds. Rabbiteyes need cross-pollination, and others benefit from it.


When to plant: Historical spring in cold-winter climates; fall or winter in mild-winter climates

Light requirement
: Full sun

Water necessity
: Regular


Favorites: Northern highbush Berkeley, Bluecrop, Blueray, Duke, Earliblue, Elliott, Jersey, Legacy, Patriot, Rubel; Southern highbush Jubilee, Misty, O’Neal, Reveille, Sharpblue, Sunshine Blue; Half-high Chippewa, Northcountry, Northsky, Polaris; Lowbush Brunswick, Burgundy, Top Hat; Rabbiteye Beckyblue, Bonitablue, Briteblue, Climax, Delite, Premier, Powederblue, Southland, Tifblue



Planting and care: Set 2 out to 3-year-old plants around 4 to 6 ft apart in shallow and broad planting holes, allowing lots of room for the more enthusiastic growers, and the crown 1/2 inch beneath the soil surface.Create a broad rather than deep hole. Cover the roots completely, Mulch after planting; the shallow roots will need to retain moisture.

If you are growing in containers, choose one which is at least 18 inches broad; a 20-inch kettle or half-wine barrel would be better. Utilize a contaminated potting soil and plant as you would in the ground.


Give 1 to 2 inches of water weekly during the growing season, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Using soaker hoses or watering furrows or basins is greatest; overhead watering can result in mold and mildew problems.
Unlike many edibles, feeding is not recommended, at least initially. Forgo any fertilizer that the first year and use it gently in early spring after that if needed. Select a fertilizer is effective for azaleas and rhododendrons.

Barbara Pintozzi

You will want as many blueberries as possible, but judicious pruning and thinning can help your plants create bigger berries and develop to their entire potential. Strip off any fruit that the first year (be patient, blueberries are fairly long-lived). The following spring, only remove low, drooping or crossing canes. The third spring, cut the branches back to 8 buds and remove any stalks that are growing too long. By year 5, start removing any old canes every spring to promote new and more productive growth.

Every few years, prune lowbush blueberries back to the ground.

Mildew and botrytis or grey mold occasionally may appear, but your main problem would be birds decimating your crop. Cover the bushes with netting as the berries appear so you’ll have some for yourself.


Harvest: Berries needs to be fully colored and sweet-tasting. Be patient; it will take several years prior to getting a good crop, however, the plants are long-lived therefore that you’ll still have years of fruit.

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