One fruit we have people ask us to grow is blueberries. Not only are they delicious, they’re full of health-promoting antioxidants and easy to incorporate into your diet. From a growing perspective, you need to have a dedicated sunny spot and a bit of patience for several years as blueberries require a bit more work compared to other plants and a specialized highly acidic soil to produce good results. While we don’t always recommend our customers to grow blueberries, for the intrepid growers, here are some tips to improve your blueberry crop from year to year.
- Remove any berries you see forming for the first 1-2 years. This will help the plant to focus its energy into developing a strong root system rather than diverting energy to berry production
- Plant blueberries in full sun. They can take some shade, but full sun is best
- Soil should be very free draining, and highly acidic. Don’t plant in clay or very heavy soils. If you can, test the soil and adjust the pH so it is in the range of 4-5.5. If you choose to add sulfur to lower the pH, wait a year before planting as sulfur can take a full year to lower the pH of the surrounding soil. Blueberries can be planted in very large containers if native soil conditions aren’t suitable.
- Add 1-2 inches of peat moss and compost every year to ensure acidic soil conditions.
- Once plants reach maturity, pruning every year or every other year will improve yields. Remove broken, weak, wayward, or crossing branches to encourage a sturdy upright shape. Prune when plants are dormant in late winter.
- There are two main types of blueberries, highbush and lowbush. Generally, lowbush varieties are more cold tolerant and grow only about 12 inches tall. Highbush types grow between 6-15 feet in height.
- Choose two different varieties to ensure good pollination and large berries.
Cover Image by Martin Stone, used under its Creative Commons license.