Facts, Tips, and Tricks to Growing Blueberries - Dengarden - Home and Garden
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Facts, Tips, and Tricks to Growing Blueberries

I've been growing blueberries in containers in my backyard for years now and love sharing my knowledge with others so they can do the same.

Blueberries are the superfood you can grow in your own backyard, and this guide will provide you with all the information you need to grow and care for this amazing plant.

Blueberries are the superfood you can grow in your own backyard, and this guide will provide you with all the information you need to grow and care for this amazing plant.

Blueberries are the superhero of the superfoods. One of the most recognizable superfoods comes in a little tiny blueberry that grows on a group of canes that form a bush. We all know that blueberries are delicious and amazing for your health, but did you know you could be your own food superhero and grow this berry in your own backyard?

Just imagine picking fresh blueberries to add to your breakfast cereal or throwing a handful of your backyard berries in your smoothie for an antioxidant boost! Or better yet, use the tiny fruit in your muffins, baked goods, or desserts. The options are endless! But you have to grow them first.

Below is a list of facts, tips, and tricks on how to grow blueberries, all of which will have you growing pounds and pounds of blueberries every summer! Don't think you have room to grow blueberries? Don't write them off too quick! Find out to grow blueberries in a small space below.

You can often find great deals on blueberries and other berry plants if you look to purchase them in the fall.

You can often find great deals on blueberries and other berry plants if you look to purchase them in the fall.

What You Need to Know Before You Plant

Blueberry plants are perennials. This means they will go dormant in the winter and return every spring. This makes for a great investment, especially if you buy plants cheap in the fall season or purchase young plants for around $10. Eventually, each bush should produce 6–15 pounds of berries per season! We all know how expensive a pint of blueberries can be at the supermarket! By planting your own bushes, they practically pay for themselves in no time!

If you're patient, you can get blueberry plants on sale in the fall. I’ve gotten plants as low as $2 at garden centers. This is compared to paying $10 a plant in the spring. Just make sure to plant the bushes and protect them during the winter months.

Popular Blueberry Varieties in North America

Variety Ideal ZonesRipens Yield

Brigitta

4–7

mid-season

high

Duke

4–7

early

high

Gulf Coast

6–10

early

10–12 pounds

Jersey

4–7

mid-season

7–10 pounds

O'Neal

5–9

very early

10–20 pounds

Pink Lemonade

4–7

late mid-season

moderate

Sunshine Blue

6–10

mid-season

5–10 pounds

Top Hat

4–7

mid-season

3 pounds

Where Blueberries Grow Best

  • Blueberries are native to North America. So if you live there, it will most likely be easier to grow! Over the years, blueberries have spread across the globe and now can be found growing in the United States, parts of Europe, Canada, parts of South America, and even Australia!
  • There are two common species of blueberry. The “low-bush blueberries” are generally considered the wild blueberry and do really well in northern latitudes, particularly in the state of Maine. The other variety is called “high-bush blueberries." This variety is the taller blueberry bush that you will most likely find at the garden center. There are many types of high-bush blueberries that do well all across the United States.
  • Growing two or more blueberry varieties near each other will give you more berries! Like many fruits, cross pollination is a necessity for blueberries, but it also results in much larger yields. You can not just plant random blueberry plants next to each other, however. You need plants that will bloom at the same time. So when buying blueberry bushes, always know what variety you are buying. Many plants will have tags with appropriate companion bushes to plant nearby. The bushes I currently have planted are Chippewa, Briggita, and Duke, which all aid each other in larger yields. I also had Sunshine Blue blueberry plants, but they ended up being damaged by the extreme cold and dying.
  • Despite this anomaly with my batch, part of what makes blueberry plants special is that you don’t have to worry too much about frost damage from a late spring freeze, as blooms can withstand temperatures as low as 28°F! Other fruits, especially cherry, apple, and pear trees, tend to have problems when blooms are threatened by a frost or freeze, resulting in significantly less fruit that season.

Tips on Caring for Your Blueberry Plant

  • Did you know that blueberry plants love coffee grounds! They make for a fantastic fertilizer and addition to the soil around the plant. Coffee grounds will lower the pH of soil, which is great for blueberry bushes because they like acidic soil. This is also great if you are growing bushes in a container and want to maintain a nutrient-dense, healthy pot of dirt. Just sprinkle a little bit of coffee grounds around the plant in the early spring. But be careful not to add too much, for as with anything, moderation is key. If you don’t drink coffee, simply visit a local Starbucks, and they can give you coffee grounds for free! Just ask your local barista!
  • The blueberry flower has a beautiful, small bell shape. Like all berry plants though, they need to be pruned. Younger canes produce more fruit and the only way these canes will grow is if you make room for them. To do this, remove the damaged and older canes. Older canes will be thicker, more woody, and produce less flower buds. The best time to prune is late in the winter before buds really start forming. Canes will produce healthy fruit for up to six years. Check out the University of Maine video below to see how to correctly prune a blueberry bush.
  • No room in your yard? Don’t have a yard? Don’t have acidic soil? That's no problem, as blueberries can also be grown in containers. This is actually how I grow my blueberries, and I’ve been pretty successful! You do want to take some steps to insure your blueberry plants stay healthy though. First, plants need to be planted in larger pots to ensure enough room for the roots to grow. I recommend 16-inch pots or larger. If you’re planning on keeping the plants in containers for many years, consider replacing the soil and changing to a slightly larger pot every few years. By using a container, you can also control the acidity of the soil, creating the perfect conditions for growing blueberries. Stick to varieties that are slightly smaller, however. You don’t want a blueberry bush that’s supposed to be 6–8 feet high in a tiny pot.

Fun Facts About Blueberries

  • Blueberries are a superfood. Therefore they are excellent for your health and not to mention delicious! These berries are anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants, and high in potassium and vitamin C. This makes them great for lowering your risk of heart disease, cancer, and possibly Alzheimer's. How can you say no to such a delectable and healthy food?
  • If you find it hard to eat all the fresh blueberries your bushes are producing, why not freeze some! Blueberries are perfect for freezing! Just gently wash blueberries off and place on a small tray. You want the berries to each freeze individually and not as a clump. Place berries in the freezer and let freeze for a couple hours. Store frozen blueberries in a freezer bag or, better yet, divide the frozen berries up into individual bags. A good portion size is one cup of blueberries in each bag, This way you can just grab a bag and throw it into your healthy smoothie without even thinking!
  • Blueberry plants aren’t just a great food producers, they also make for a beautiful addition to anyone’s landscape. Let's face it, some plants that we grow for food are just not that great looking in our landscape or gardens—but that’s not a problem with blueberries. Not only do they have a nice shape to form a hedge, they also have beautiful fall foliage that will add great interest to your yard. The striking variations in red leaves will wow you and your neighbors come fall! And that’s not all—in spring, the plants produce beautiful, bell-shaped flowers that eventually develop into your berries. It’s a win-win situation!

My Experience Growing Blueberries

My experience with blueberries began years ago when I first started enjoying the little blue fruit. I was actually a very picky eater when I was young, so I didn't really appreciate or enjoy blueberries till my late teens and early twenties. Now I'm in love with this fruit!

In my college years, I began to become aware of the energy, the food miles, and the chemicals it took to grow much of the food we eat and decided to do something about it. I started my own vegetable garden.

Caring for My First Blueberry Plants in Containers

After a few seasons, I began to think outside of just vegetables and dreamed of rows and rows of blueberry shrubs. Unfortunately, I have no room in my yard for a nice blueberry patch. Then out of the blue, I saw blueberry plants on sale for $7 at the garden center in the spring of 2012 and couldn't resist buying some. This is when I bought my first two blueberry bushes. They were a cold-hardy, half-high hybrid variety named Chippewa.

Since it was an impulse buy, I wasn't sure where I was going to put the plants, and this is when I learned about planting blueberries in containers. So I bought two large pots and filled them up with some potting soil and some peat moss. They looked fantastic on my back deck and even gave me some berries that first year. Unfortunately, I lost one plant by August, because the pot was not draining correctly and we had a very wet end to summer.

As the fall of 2012 approached, I realized I needed another blueberry bush for the following year. So I decided to stop by a garden center one day, and I'm so glad I did! One of the best deals I've ever discovered happened at that garden center. Berry plants were on sale for $2! I ended up buying two Sunshine Blue blueberry plants, a Brigitta blueberry plant, an Apache Thornless blackberry bush, and two 16-inch pots for the astounding price of . . . $12!

Navigating My Plants Through Some Rough Winters

In the winter of 2012–13, I was smart enough to place my blueberry bushes in my shed right before the infamous blizzard Nemo hit! My area received about 40 inches of snow in one night! This certainly would have crushed my plants if I had not protected them. This wise decision resulted in an awesome harvest from all four blueberry bushes later that summer.

The following winter brought extreme cold for my area, which resulted in some damage to my Sunshine Blue plants (they're better suited for areas further south). One was lost and the other one was severely damaged. The summer of 2014 resulted in less blueberries, mostly because I lost one bush, another was damaged, and the other two needed some pruning.

The brutal winter of 2014–15 was the coldest on record for my area, however, and resulted in the loss of the other Sunshine Blue plant. So this spring, I went back to the garden center and bought a Duke Blueberry plant. I also pruned my other remaining plants, which includes my Chippewa and Brigitta plants. Hopefully, this summer will be bountiful!

If you're interested in growing blueberries but not sure where to start, then check out the chart below to see some popular blueberry varieties in North America and which hardiness zone they belong to. If you're not sure which zone you are located in, consult the USDA page on hardiness zones. Once you get started, you'll be enjoying blueberries in no time!

Blueberry plants make for beautiful fall foliage!

Blueberry plants make for beautiful fall foliage!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Linda Bryen from United Kingdom on March 25, 2018:

Thank you for this hub about blueberries. I just love this fruit, in fact I bought one from a garden centre and for two years it has been giving lots of blueberries each year. I also grow it in a pot as I don't have much space in my garden. Well done, it is a great hub. Voted as well.

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 27, 2015:

Hey agvupes! Yes, they definitely can be a money saver. Two summers ago I was able to have a handful of fresh blueberries on my cereal every morning for breakfast from Late July until Early September! Thanks for commenting!

Peter from Australia on April 27, 2015:

G'day Brian thanks for this great lesson on growing Blueberries I will have to find a plant, Over here in Southern Australia the prices vary quite a bit but atm I am paying about $6 for about 4 oz so it would be worth while growing a bush :)

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 27, 2015:

Thanks vocalcoach! That's awesome, you'll have to let me know how you make out!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on April 27, 2015:

I'll be growing potted blueberries after reading your helpful hub. Thanks so much. Voted up and sharing.

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 26, 2015:

Thanks Vespawoolf! That's so exciting! I did a quick google search on blueberries in Peru and it looks like a booming industry. Hopefully, that will make finding the right variety to grow easier. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 26, 2015:

The title of this Hub caught my eye right away. Blueberries were unknown in Peru until just recently. I don't know which variety is being cultuvated here, but I had never thought of growing them in a pot! I plan to look into finding a plant soon. Thanks for the information and inspiration.

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 26, 2015:

Thanks pstraubie48! The local nursery is an excellent place to start! Good luck with the new bushes, i'm sure you'll be enjoying homegrown berries in no time! Thanks for the vote up! Have a great evening enjoying those fresh berries from your friends!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 26, 2015:

So much helpful information here. I have NO blueberry plants as I have just moved to a new location but they are one of my favorite fruits so I will be reviewing your notes as I plant my new bushes. the local nursery has excellent ones for great prices.

My sweet little friends brought me a quart they had picked at a local patch yesterday. I am having some this evening.

voted up+++ and shared Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 26, 2015:

That's awesome Austinstar! Good luck with your blueberries!

Brian Dooling (author) from Connecticut on April 26, 2015:

Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan! I'm glad you find it useful. I hope you have better luck with your blueberries!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on April 26, 2015:

I'm trying to grow some blueberries now! Thanks for the tips.

Claudia Mitchell on April 26, 2015:

What a great and useful hub! I love blueberries but have never had success in growing them.