Blueberries are incredibly useful plants. Not only do they give us delicious berries, but they are pretty from spring through fall. Some varieties even have reddish stems in the winter!
Here are a few tips for home-grown blueberries!
Which Blueberry Should I Buy?
Blueberries are sold at The Greenery bare-root in winter, or as potted plants year-round. We recommend buying two different cultivars to ensure pollination. Some cultivars from Monrovia, such as Bountiful Blue and O’Neal, are self-fertile (they don’t need another cultivar to bear fruit) but planting multiple can help increase yields.
Another characteristic to consider when choosing blueberries is the chill requirement needed to bear fruit. The Central Valley generally has enough chill hours for blueberries, but it is important to consider.
Well-drained soil is a must! Not sure if you have well-drained soil? Try this trick: dig a hole approximately 1’ deep by 1’ wide.
Fill it with water and let it drain. Then fill it with water again, but this time note how long it takes for the water to drain. It should drain 1” per hour or faster. If it does not, then you have poor-draining soil and need to create raised beds for your blueberries, or plant in containers.
Once you have established that you have well-drained soil to plant in, go ahead and dig the hole. The hole should be twice as wide as the container the blueberry is currently in, and 1 1/2 times as deep.
The key to planting blueberries is soil pH. Blueberries prefer 6.0 or below. When planting, add Gardner & Bloome Acid Planting Mix, handful (check the package for recommended dose) of Soil Sulfur, and an organic acid fertilizer like Gardner & Bloome Rhody, Azalea & Camellia or Espoma Hollytone (check the package for recommended amount), cover all with native soil and mix thoroughly.
Next, plant your blueberry so that the root ball is just above the rest of the soil to allow for settling. Now mulch! You need to mulch the soil up to 4” thick with a medium to coarse bark like orchid bark.
Mulching with coarse bark filters salts out of the irrigation water, therefore keeping the soil acidic. Make sure to keep the mulch away from the stems of the plant otherwise, it may smother and kill the plant! Water thoroughly when finished.
Blueberries in containers
Blueberries also do very well in containers if you don’t have acidic soil, or would like to move them around if you ever need to move! Use the same soil, sulfur, and fertilizer as recommended above when planting in a pot. Sunset Western Garden book also recommends that they do very well in half wine barrels.
Feed as directed with an organic acid-based fertilizer like Gardner & Bloome Rhody, Azalea & Camellia food beginning at bud break (when new growth begins in spring) and ending no later than July 30th. Feeding after July 30th is unnecessary since they begin to go dormant after the summer solstice.
For an extra boost, use Neptune’s Harvest Liquid Seaweed and Fish fertilizer applied as a foliar spray, 3 times per year; at bud break, pre-harvest and post-harvest.
Always use organic fertilizer on blueberries. Organic fertilizer makes them disease-resistant, heat-resistant, and healthier overall, which means a prettier, more productive plant for us!
For these and more tips, stop by the nursery and pick up our FREE Guide to Growing Blueberries!