If you want to grow blueberries in your own backyard, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
There are three basic types of cultivated blueberries, along with the native lowbush blueberries. Maine is famous for their wild blueberries, and these are the native lowbush berries. Cultivated blueberries are highbush, rabbiteye or southern highbush varieties, or a cross of any of these types.
Choose a variety that is suited for your climate. Gardeners in northern climates should choose a highbush variety, or a half-high hybrid that is crossed with the native lowbush plants. Rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberries are more suited to the warmer climate of the South.
For larger blueberry yields, two or more varieties should be planted. It is not absolutely necessary to have more than one variety for pollination, but if the plants are allowed to cross-pollinate, the berries will be larger, and the plants will produce a larger yield.
Blueberry plants require full sun to produce a good crop. Blueberry bushes need to grow in moist, acidic soil with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0. If the pH is above 5.0, apply granular soil sulphur to acidify it, following the application rates on the package. If the soil pH is below 4.0 apply ground dolomitic limestone to sweeten it a bit.
The soil should be kept moist but not soggy. If the soil in your backyard does not drain well, consider creating a raised bed for your blueberries. To prepare the planting bed, mix a shovel full of well-rotted compost or peat moss with the soil in each planting hole to increase the organic matter.
Plant blueberry bushes in the fall, or in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The plants should be spaced four to six feet apart.
The plants will begin to produce fruit in their third season, and the crop will increase a bit each year until it reaches its full potential in the sixth season. The plants generally require very little or no pruning for the first three years.
Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at FreePlants.com and read his blog at MikeBackYardNursery.com.
Related Articles & Free Email Newsletter
How to Properly Prepare and Store Food for Winter
How to Tell if Spider Mites are Eating Your Plants
How to Use Bottom Heat to Propagate Cuttings