Expert Advice

4 Tips for Improving Success With Blueberries

Authored by:

Earth Science

When it comes to growing blueberry bushes, many people get frustrated, perceiving blueberries as difficult to grow. On the contrary, blueberries are fairly easy to grow and maintain, with the proper conditions. For optimum fruit production, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Start with the Right Soil pH

Blueberries require strongly acidic soil conditions (pH between 4.0 and 5.6) to grow. A low pH soil is essential for success with blueberries, and improper soil pH is the main reason gardeners fail when planting blueberries. For best results, test the soil pH before planting, and amend the soil with sulfur to bring it into the proper pH range before planting.

2. Choose the Right Varieties

Several species of blueberries (Vaccinium species) are native to the US. Blueberry varieties are typically grouped into different classes of plants: Highbush, Lowbush, Half-High, and Rabbiteye. Choosing the right class of blueberry for your climate is important. Gardeners in southern climates, where winters are short and mild, should choose Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush types with low chill requirements. These varieties need only limited cool winter conditions to mature fruit buds. Growers in cold climate areas should choose Lowbush, Northern Highbush, or Half-High varieties.

Breeders have developed cultivars with different maturity times (early, midseason, and late season) in the different classes of blueberries. Planting varieties with different maturities helps to extend the blueberry harvest.

Planting multiple varieties is also helpful to ensure good pollination and fruit production.

3. Choose a Sunny Site

Always plant blueberries in a sunny spot. Blueberries require full sun (6 hours or more of direct sunlight per day) to grow and yield well. Plants will grow more slowly and produce less fruit if they are planted in too much shade.

4. Use Mulch

Blueberries have shallow root systems and prefer moist but well-drained soil. Mulching around plants with an organic mulch provides multiple benefits to blueberries. Not only does mulch help keep the soil moist, but it also helps deter weeds from growing and competing with the blueberry plants. Mulch will also break down over time, enriching the soil with organic matter and nutrients. A few inches of mulch can do wonders!

Following these tips will help give gardeners wanting to grow blueberries the best chance of success. For more help with growing blueberry bushes, or adjusting your soil acidity, contact us today!