Blueberries

Family: Ericaceae

Countries: Americas, Canada, Central America, Honduras, Mexico, North America

I love growing blueberries!  Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium angustifolium) are deciduous shrubs that produce sublime tasting berries.  These handsome plants produce tasty fruit but they bring added interest to the garden with their intriguing white, bell-shaped flowers, which are adored by bees in springtime and their vibrant autumn leaves.  In autumn, blueberries deliver stunning leaf colours, turning vivid shades of orange and red before falling.

In my own garden, I’ve found blueberries to be very hardy.  I’ve grown blueberries successfully outdoors, without any protection whatsoever, in Scotland, as well as in England.  Blueberries are decorative yet productive plants.  Although blueberry plants are self-fertile, it’s best to grow two or more plants together, ideally select different varieties and grow the plants in the same area of your garden or allotment.  The bees will delight in your blueberry plants’ flowers and will happily pollinate your plants.

Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium angustifolium) are deciduous shrubs that thrive in acidic soils.  If your soil is alkaline, don’t worry, you can still grow blueberries; these plants will grow happily planted in large containers filled with peat-free ericaceous compost.  Blueberries flourish in moisture retentive soils with sufficient drainage to prevent the ground from becoming waterlogged in winter.

When choosing a location to grow blueberries, look for a position that will allow your plants can bask in sunshine or partial shade.  Blueberries should be watered with rainwater, these plants need regular waterings throughout spring and summertime; therefore ensure that neither your plants or their containers will be shielded from the rain by a roof or awning or a nearby wall or fence.

Water blueberry plants with rainwater, (if you can) as tap water creates more alkaline growing conditions.  If you’re planning to fertilise your plants, remember to select an ericaceous product that is especially formulated for lime-hating plants.

Whether you’re growing blueberries in the ground or in containers, in early springtime, mulch or top dress your blueberry plants with peat-free ericaceous compost, or mulch around your plants with pine needles, pine sawdust, or pine bark.

Once your plants reach three years old, it’s wise to prune your blueberry plants to encourage new growth and to maintain your plants’ productivity and longevity.  In February, remove up to one quarter of your plant’s oldest stems, simply by cutting them back at the base with a sharp pair of secateurs.  Pruning will encourage new growth.

In my garden, I find that my blueberries are very popular with blackbirds as they ripen!

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