How To Grow Blueberries

Blueberries | Gardening Direct

How To Grow Blueberries

By Gardening Direct
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How to Grow Blueberries | Gardening DirectHow to Grow Blueberries | Gardening Direct

Blueberries are long-lived, hardy and easy to grow, these dainty fruits are renowned for being jam-packed with antioxidants, fibre and being one of nature’s many superfoods.

The fruit, which many choose to grow in containers on their patio, provide colour and fruit from spring blossom, through to vibrant autumnal colours. If you’re unsure about how to grow blueberries, here is our guide with everything that you need to know. 

When is the best time to plant blueberries?

Ideally, blueberries should be planted in autumn or winter, which will allow them to grow vibrant fruits during the spring.

How to plant blueberries

The one essential condition is the acidic quality of the soil - a pH between 4 and 5.5 is ideal for growing blueberries. If your soil is not naturally ericaceous, you can use sulphur chips, or you can grow your blueberries in a pot where you can monitor and alter the pH using ericaceous compost from the start. 

If preferred, you can also plant your blueberries in a raised bed.

How to grow blueberries | Gardening DirectHow to grow blueberries | Gardening Direct

 

Prepare the soil ahead of planting out - if you are lowering the pH by adding sulphur chips, do this at least three weeks before planting in order for these to take effect.

Dig in plenty of well-rotted compost - organic matter such as grass clippings, leaves or manure is perfect. Then dig a hole to comfortably fit the root ball, mix a small amount of granular fertiliser into the hole. Note that if not thoroughly mixed in or if too much is used, it may cause damage to the roots. 

Remove the plant from its pot and position it in the hole, fill with soil and water thoroughly. Ideally use rainwater, as tap water contains lime and will bring the soil pH away from the acidic quality needed. 

Plant blueberries 1.5 metres apart. If you plant more than one blueberry this will ensure cross-pollination - which is not essential, but will give you higher yields. Use pine needles, wood chips or acidic peat as mulch.

How to grow blueberries in pots

A pre-potted plant can be left in the pot for one year to mature, and then be potted up into a larger container, or planted out. It is important to keep a blueberry in a container in a sheltered place, away from any strong winds, and keep well watered with rainwater to ensure that the soil’s pH is balanced for optimum blueberry growing. 

Tip: If you are growing your blueberries in pots, feed regularly with a feed high in potash.

Harvesting blueberries

Blueberry fruits will appear in clusters and ripen haphazardly. When fruits turn a deep blue they are fully ripe, and they will develop their most intense flavour a few days after this. Pick quickly before the berries fall to the ground.

Blueberry fruit net | Gardening DirectBlueberry fruit net | Gardening Direct

 

We recommend that you use fruit nets to guard against birds - as they love blueberries! Always use rainwater to keep the plants moist from first bud right through to leaf fall.

Handy tips

It's important to keep the soil pH at 4 to 5.5, so it's worth monitoring the soil yearly, adding sulphur pellets as adjustment if it is no longer acidic. If you are growing your blueberries in pots, feed regularly with a feed high in potash.

Through the year

Pruning is only necessary after two or three years. Then it becomes advantageous to prune out dead or diseased wood in the winter (between November and March) during the plant's dormancy period. You can also prune out the oldest and the least productive canes, helping to maintain high yields and vigorous growth - fewer, larger berries. 

Lower branches should also be pruned back if these lay down to the ground when fruiting. When pruning, note that buds for next year's fruit will appear on second year wood - don't prune away more than half of the new growth.

Ready to plant your own fruit now you know how to grow blueberries? Take a look at our blueberry plant collection.
25 March 2020
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