Blueberries are one of the best plants you can choose for your edible landscape. They are easy to grow, beautiful in all seasons, and give absolutely delicious and nutritious fruit. By growing your own organic blueberries you can be sure they are the best and the safest.
There are a few things you need to know about blueberries and your climate in order to choose the best variety for your garden. I’ll make it simple here, but if you’d like to know more be sure to watch this video on planting and choosing your blueberries.
First of all you need to determine your growing zone. You can do that by typing your zip code into this USDA chart or the Sunset Garden book also offers growing zones by zip code here for the United States.
USDA Hardiness Zones:
The zones vary based on type.
- Northern highbush : Zones 4-7
- Southern highbush : Zones 7-10
- Lowbush : Zones 3-6
- Half-high : Zones 3-7
- Rabbiteye : Zones 7-9
All blueberries like acidic soil, similar to conditions that suit azaleas and rhododendrons. You can add peat moss to your soil to lower the pH (4.5 – 5.5). You should also use
Shrubs Alive!TM acid food and fertilizer.> Blueberries have fine surface roots, which should not be disturbed by cultivation. I like to heavily mulch my blueberries with sawdust. This protects the roots, keeps the soil moist and the weeds to a minimum.
There are several kinds of blueberries. Highbush blueberries grow upright between 5 and 6 feet tall. They require winter cold and their fruit ripens from late spring to late summer. Most high bush varieties grow in colder climates. Northern highbush grow in zones 4-7. Southern varieties grow in zones 7-10.
Lowbush blueberries grow in Zones 3-6. As the zones suggest, these are very good for cold places. These grow only 6-18″ high. They have underground runners. Find the right varieties in your local nursery or order from catalogs for your zone
There is another variety called half -high. Half-High mixes the benefits of highbush – large fruit – with the benefits of lowbush – cold tolerance.
Finally there are rabbiteye blueberries. Rabbiteye grows in Zones 7 to 9. These can grow over ten feet tall.
In addition to acidic soil, blueberries need full sun, well drained soil and continuous moisture for best fruit production. Although some varieties are self pollinating, it is better to have at least two different varieties for best fruit production.
It is simple to prune blueberries. On older plants cut back the ends of twigs to strong buds. Remove some of the oldest branches each year and any dead or weak shoots. This gives the plants more air and light.
Pick the fruit when it is a dark blue. Like these:
The health attributes of the blueberry are many, but really we eat them because they are sooooo goood. I urge you to find a place in your garden for this most wonderful of plants.
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I seem to have several volunteer blue berries in my yard – they look just like the one I purchased, but they don’t have the same flavor. If I let them grow, will they get better?
Hi Gayle, You don’t say where you live, but some states have native blueberries. Perhaps this is what is happening in your yard. Also, blueberries can spread underground and send up new shoots where there will be new plants. If the soil has not been amended it is possible that this is affecting the flavor of your blueberries. Another possibility is that the plants are young. It takes a few years for shrubs to produce a crop of good berries. You can use a fertilizer for acid loving plants. Garden’s Alive sells organic fertilizers that work well. I hope this helps. Avis
Y read about you and I want to tell you my admiration. I live in Montevideo, Uruguay, South America. In my country the public opinion is not yet aware about the importance of organic food and organic gardens. And unfortunately so, we have not here such a variety of plants as you do in the States. Nevertheless I wish I could start an organic and edible garden.
I enjoy your blog (I heard from Care2Pages). Perhaps I should try to find a place in the states that has a similar climate than our and then start with the seeds recommended for it.
Thank you for your comittment to make a kind of join venture from health an beauty.
Rocio, Thank you so much for your comment. I will do some research bout your climate and see if I can make some recommendations for you about what seeds to buy. Avis
Thank you Avis for this wonderful artical on blueberries.
I love the tiny little blueberries. I buy them frozen from Trader Joes. I live in Orange County California. Will these grow where I live and where do I get the itty bitty blue berry plant?
Hi Kim, Thanks for your comment. Yes you can grow a variety called Southern Highbush Blueberry. It is for low chill climates like yours. The variety Reveille and Southmoon will probably work well. You can find them at Dave Wilson Nursery. There other varieties as well and a lot of good planting information at this site: http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/promotion/blueberries.html. You might consider planting them in containers where you can control the soil acidity better. Good Luck! Let me know how it goes for you. Avis