Want to succeed with blueberries? You’re in the right place. Blueberries can be a tricky plant to master, but we have gathered some of the best research from experts in the blueberry industry.
There are two keys to successful blueberries: variety and soil.
The first key to blueberry growing success is to pick the right variety for your climate. There are four main types of blueberries: Highbush, lowbush, half-high, or rabbiteye.
- Highbush blueberries are the ones you buy at the grocery store. They are large, dark berries that grow on huge bushes. Best for zones 4-7. Southern highbush types thrive in zones 7-10.
- Lowbush blueberries grow just 6-18 inches high, but they spread with underground runners, and they can survive a freeze. The berries are smaller and sweeter and work great in zones 3-6.
- Half-high blueberries are a combination of the large berry size of high-bush and the cold-hardiness of low-bush. The plants don’t grow as tall, nor do they spread by underground runners.
- Rabbiteye blueberries are for southern gardeners who don’t want a highbush berry. These are smaller and ripen later and are less finicky about their soil, but still grow several feet high.
Once you know the type of berry that is best suited to your area, half the battle is over. Now you’ll need to prepare your soil. Blueberries are demanding when it comes to their soil. It must be w
ell aerated, moist, and very acidic. Start with a soil test and then acidify it to get to a pH level of between 4-5.5. You can acidify your soil by adding in sulfur into the top six inches of soil.
Once the soil is ready for planting, set the berries 2-6 feet apart (15 feet apart for rabbiteyes). Enrich the soil first with a bucket of compost to maintain acidity. After planting, add organic mulch on top and give the plants a good watering. Berries need about 1-2 inches of water weekly during their growing season.
Tips for Success:
Regardless of your climate or variety, there are a few tips for blueberry success:
- Blueberries love sun.
- Water well and water regularly. A drip system is ideal for berries.
- Outsmart the birds. Net the plants during fruiting season.
- give it company. Blueberries produce more and bigger fruit when planted with at least one other variety to allow for cross-pollination.
- Your blueberries won’t need any pruning at all for at least the first three years.
- Add peat moss to the hole when planting.
- Recheck the pH and readjust every couple of years with more sulfur.