How to Plant and Grow Blueberries

Blueberry Picture

Choosing Your Variety

With blueberries there are many options to choose form.  This can depend on bush size, berry size and different types of flavour. I have two varieties of blueberry, Bluecrop and a Jamie Oliver variety.  The Jamie Oliver ones have much bigger berries than the other variety at the moment. Bluecrop are one of the most popular blueberries to grow.  They are a highbush variety and have both resistance to drought and also to some frost. They are heavy cropping and normally have large berries.  They grow quite tall at 6 to 8 feet high. My own bush has a very heavy yield this year and is an older bush but the berries are small.  I will be doing some TLC on it to ensure next year the berries are bigger. There are also three kinds of bush which are a lowbush, hybrid half-high and a highbush.  

Quantity of Bushes

You can get away with only one bush if you want to as many blueberry bushes are self fertile. However you do get a much better crop if you have more than one bush from differing varieties.

Planting Your New Bush

It is best to plant the bushes either in the autumn or the spring.  They like it sunny or sunny with a bit of shade. Blueberries photoThe highbush varieties can make great hedges.  With blue berries you can plant them with other plants if you want to as they make a very attractive addition to a garden.  In the autumn they are stunning.  My sister does this quite effectively although she does leave a space between plants.  My other sister has hers in pots. For us allotmenteers, we can decide to to that or plant separately in our fruit section.  I have mine lined up with plenty of space around them (although not the full 5 feet as suggested due to a small allotment).  This makes for easy netting, water and picking. They are an ericaceous plant (ie they hate lime) and need a slightly acidic soil to grow well.  That is a soil below 5.5PH level.  If you live in the west country you may be fine with them directly in the soil. (Mine are fine) if not you will have two options, you can either plant them in pots or tubs and use ericaceous soils easily obtained from your local garden centres. Or you can create a bed especially for them with the right kind of soil.

Watering and Feeding

Make sure you keep the soil acidic however do not use normal manurer as this is far too rich for the delicate blueberry.  Instead use conifer compost or even some pine needles. Keep the bush moist but do not over water.  For the first year give a good water every week during the hot summer dry spell (this bit is for optimists lol).

Harvesting Your Blueberry Fruits

Blueberries do not all ripen together so you can have dribs and drabs of them.  My sister diligently picks hers a few at a time and freezes them until she has enough.  If you want a lot at one time you need to combine established big cropping plants with a few bushes.  Once established one bush (depending on variety) can crop up to 15lb to 20lb.  Although lesser amounts are more common and depend on how well maintained they are. You harvest the berries when they are a deep blue shade.  If you do not pick them then they will either shrivel or drop off.  If in doubt you can tell by how easy they come off the bush.  Ripe berries will come off easily. You will need to net the berries before they start to ripen or the birds will get them all.

Pruning Basics

How to Prune Your Blueberries This video is all about pruning a young blueberry plant.  You need to prune in February or March each year after the first couple of years when pruning should not be necessary.  How to Prune Your Young Blueberry Bush Blueberries fruit on stems that are one year old. How to prune your established blueberry bushes.