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from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

Grow Your Own Blueberries

Blueberries are pretty easy to grow, but people often get confused about soil acidity (pH). “Oh, you can’t grow blueberries unless you have acid soil.” True, blueberries thrive in soil with a pH of 4.0 to 5.5, but it’s not something you can’t manage with soil amendments.

Early-season blueberries, before they grow plump, ripe and blue.

In the unlikely event that you have too many blueberries to eat, you can freeze them. Just pack the cleaned berries, whole, into freezer bags.

Recently on Facebook we asked people: What’s your favorite backyard fruit? The top three vote-getters are strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. No surprise there, but good ol’ rhubarb ranked in the top 10. When it comes to berries, I find that gardeners have the most questions about blueberries. For instance, Jim White asked us on Facebook:

I recently planted a garden that includes two blueberry bushes (2 years and no fruit!) I read I need acidic soil. What can I add to make it acidic? Also, would I be better separating them so the “acidic” soil doesn’t interfere with the rest of the garden? Thanks so much in advance……. Jim

Blueberries are pretty easy to grow, but people often get confused about soil acidity (pH). “Oh, you can’t grow blueberries unless you have acid soil.” True, blueberries thrive in soil with a pH of 4.0 to 5.5, but you can manage it with soil amendments.

When blueberries fail to fruit, I find that it’s usually not caused by the soil pH. Here are a few other causes to consider:

  • Do your plants get enough sun? All-day sun is best for good fruiting.
  • Have the birds eaten your crop? Birds can quickly pluck a shrub clean. Consider using bird netting to secure your harvest.
  • Do you have good cross-pollination? Blueberries fruit more abundantly if you grow two or more varieties. Our set of two plants includes Jersey and Blueray. Check with your cooperative extension for a list of varieties known to thrive in your area.

If you’ve considered all the factors above and you still get no fruit, check your soil pH and amend it as necessary. If your soil conditions are not ideal, think about growing blueberries in a raised bed. That way you can be sure of good drainage, fewer weeds and you can create the type of soil that makes blueberries thrive.

For more information, read Planting and Care of Blueberries.

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David Grist
Gardener’s Supply

1 Comment

  1. August 5, 2011    

    I live in Zone 10 where I was told that nothing of any good note will grow here.I tried lots of plants and I succeeded in growing Clematis,Akebia Quinata,Daylilies,Kiwis etc successfully.I tried Sunshine blue blueberry but it couldn’t take summer heat.Plan to try sharp blue this year.

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We are an employee-owned company of avid gardeners, located in Burlington, VT.