Imagine stepping out your door and picking a handful of fresh, juicy blueberries. It’s easier than you might think. Here are some tips on how to grow blueberries in your backyard or home garden to ensure a steady, delicious crop for both this summer and many summers to come.
How to Grow Blueberries – (It’s easier than you may think)
Blueberries are a delicious addition to any backyard garden. Perfect as a quick snack, these low-calorie blue beauties are packed with antioxidants, healthy fiber and vitamin C. But are blueberry plants hard to grow?
If you’ve ever struggled with growing fruit trees, you can finally relax. Growing blueberries are much easier. Once established, they pretty much grow by themselves.
Blueberries are perennial shrubs. With a little bit of care, they will continue to grow and produce fruit year after year, with some bushes lasting up to 20 years or older.
As an added benefit, they make a beautiful landscaping bush, starting with white spring blossoms and ripening summer fruit to red leaves in the fall.
Where to Plant Blueberries In Yard?
Before planting your blueberry bushes, check out your yard for an area with sufficient sunlight, proper soil and enough space to allow them to grow.
Do Blueberries Need to be Planted in Full Sun?
Blueberries like sunlight. They prefer six to eight hours a day but can tolerate a little bit of shade. The more sun they get, the better they produce.
If you have older blueberry bushes that are producing less fruit than they have in the past, check the landscaping for anything nearby, such as a growing tree that may be shading the bushes and decreasing their yield.
What’s the Best Soil for Growing Blueberries?
Blueberries have a shallow root system and need well-drained soil. While they like frequent watering and damp soil, too much water or standing water can cause problems.
How do you know if your soil is well-drained? Dig a hole about eight to ten inches deep. Check it after a rain. If the water drains out within 24 hours, it should be fine for blueberries. If the water is still there, plant your blueberry bushes elsewhere.
Blueberries like acidic soil, preferably between PH 4.0 to 5.0. Before planting, test the soil in that specific spot to see if you need to add any amendments to the soil to achieve the proper PH.
Keep in mind that the soil in your yard can vary from place to place. If you are sending out samples to your local extension agent, make sure to provide different samples for each different are you plan to plant.
If you’re testing your soil at home, many kits such as the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash, by Luster Leaf, allow you to make multiple test samples. These come in handy for testing your soil both before and after any soil amendments, so you can make sure you have the proper PH for whatever you’re planting.
How Do You Prepare Soil for Blueberries?
If your soil isn’t ideal for blueberries, you can add in soil amendments to improve it. Organic material such as peat moss, pine bark or pine needles can help improve acidity. Other additions include bloodmeal, cottonseed meal or granulated sulfur. Pick one and try it out.
It’s best to work the amendments into the blueberry bed in the fall before spring planting. This gives the material plenty of time to break down and be incorporated into your soil. Monitor the PH of the soil each year to keep it within range.
Use a Good Mulch
Mulching your blueberry beds helps to maintain good drainage and keep the soil moist. Keep in mind that any type of mulch used will have an effect on the underlying soil. Using an acidic mulch like pine bark or pine needles, helps to maintain the proper PH for your blueberry beds.
How Many Blueberry Bushes Do You Need?
Before you buy your blueberry bushes, first decide how many you need. Here’s a few things to consider.
- how many blueberry plants per person for eating?
- sizes and types of blueberry plants
- available space and landscaping considerations
- cross-pollination needs
How Many Blueberry Plants Per Person?
If you have blueberry lovers in your family, estimate around two plants per person. For serious blueberry lovers, or if you plan to preserve the fruit for smoothies or canning, you may need more.
On average, a single bush can produce around a gallon of berries at maturity.
How Big are Blueberry Bushes?
It depends on the type of blueberry bush. Highbush blueberries can grow from six to twelve feet tall and eight to twelve feet wide. Rabbiteye blueberries can grow from eight to ten feet tall.
If you want to plant blueberries in containers, there are shorter varieties, as well. Half-High blueberries, Southern Highbush and Dwarf Hybrids are much smaller ranging from two to three feet tall or smaller.
Do Blueberry Bushes Need to Cross Pollinate?
According to Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont, “You’ll want to choose at least 2 if not 3 different ones for
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your plants bloom at the same time. If you have different varieties but they don’t bloom together, it won’t help much with pollination.
How Close Can You Plant Blueberry Bushes?
Blueberries don’t require a lot of space, which makes them perfect for backyard gardening. For cross-pollination, plant blueberry bushes no more than five feet away from each other. They grow well in rows or clusters. Just keep in mind that, with proper care, Highbush and Rabbiteye varieties can grow to be very large bushes.
If you’re interested in edible landscaping, blueberries make a unique hedge. They can be planted as close together as two or two and a half feet apart and provide an attractive privacy screen as well as nutritious summer snacks.
With these tips on how to grow blueberries, you’ll be well on your way to growing and eating your own fresh backyard blueberries this summer and many more summers to come.