QUESTION: Are blueberries difficult to grow? I buy a lot at the grocery store and they’re expensive, so I love the thought of growing my own. I’m a pretty beginner level gardener though. – Kelly C
GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: No, blueberries are one of the easiest fruits you can grow. Notice I mentioned the word fruit. If you’ve ever tried your hand at growing fruit, you know they take a good amount of maintenance and patience.
Blueberries require less maintenance than most fruits, but these plants do still require patience and for specific growing conditions to be met.
If you’re ready to grow blueberries, start with the proper growing area. Select a growing location with full sunlight and loamy, acidic soil that drains adequately.
Test your soil to find out if this growing location is right for your blueberries. You’re looking for a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.
If your soil doesn’t fall within these parameters, don’t stress. You can amend the soil, in most cases, to get it to where it should be for growing blueberries properly.
I’ve grown blueberries for years, and I’m surrounded by clay soil. The soil was amended at the time of planting, and we’ve maintained it every year since. It’s wise to test your soil every three years to ensure everything is still where it needs to be since blueberries are perennials and should be with you for years.
After your soil is adequate, dig a hole deep enough in the earth to comfortably sustain the root system of the plant. Then backfill the hole.
When done, water the plant deeply. It’s a good idea to mulch around your blueberry plants each year. This helps keep the soil evenly moist and will compost to add further nutrients to your growing location.
Plus, mulch serves as insulation for the roots of blueberry plants to protect them from freezing during the coldest portions of the year.
You’ll only need to water your blueberry plants the first year and only when they aren’t supplied with an inch of water naturally throughout the week.
After year one, the plants should be established enough to sustain themselves outside of times of severe drought.
In many cases, cultivars of blueberries are self-pollinating, but you can still plant a variety around your landscape. This way you can stagger your harvest times.
This is handy if an unexpected frost arises. It should only hinder one of your harvests and not the entire thing.
The final things blueberry plants require of you is to be pruned once a year after year four. Do this when the plant is dormant and only to remove dead, damaged, or tangled portions of the plant to keep the center open for receiving more light.
You may also need to cover the plant in bird netting as birds are usually the biggest threat to your blueberries. They’ll munch on your harvest, so either protect the berries or plant enough to share.
What you won’t need to do with blueberries is spray them for pests. Typically, these plants don’t face many issues with pests or diseases.
However, you will have to wait at least three years to start receiving blueberries from your plants. They don’t start producing at full capacity until around years five and six.
You now know what a blueberry plant needs from you. As long as you provide the right growing conditions and perform small amounts of maintenance, you shouldn’t have many problems with these plants.
In my own experience, I can say that there’s no comparison between store bought and homegrown blueberries. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy growing this plant as much as I do.