PLANTING, GROWING, PRUNING, AND HARVESTING BLUEBERRIES

Did you know that the modern blueberry (ブルーベリー) is a 20th-century invention? Before the 1900s, the only way to enjoy these North American natives was to find them in the wild. Then, scientists started to unlock the secrets of cultivating blueberries—and we’re glad they did! Here’s how to grow blueberries in your garden.

Plump, juicy blueberries are now easy to grow in your backyard on bushes that are resistant to most pests and diseases, and can produce for up to 20 years. A relative of rhododendron and azalea, blueberry bushes aren’t just a great fruiting plant but also an attractive addition to your overall landscape, offering scarlet fall foliage and creamy-white, bell-shaped spring flowers. Read more about why you should grow blueberries in your home garden (as if you needed an excuse!).

TYPES OF BLUEBERRIES

There are four types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high and rabbiteye. The most commonly planted blueberry is the highbush. Most blueberry breeding has focused on this species, so there are many varieties that range widely in cold hardiness and fruit season, size, and flavor. Read more about blueberry varieties below.

HOW TO PLANT BLUEBERRY BUSHES

  • Dig holes about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide (or about twice as wide and twice as deep as the roots of the plant).
  • Space bushes 4–5 feet apart in a row, with at least 8 feet between rows. Prepare a planting mixture of 2 parts loam and one part oak leaf mold, peat moss, aged sawdust, or compost, and place a layer of this mixture in the bottom of the hole.
  • Set the bush in the hole with its roots spread out. Don’t plant the bush any deeper than it grew in the pot. Pack the hole tightly with soil.
  • Apply fertilizer one month after planting, not at the time of planting. Apply ½ ounce of a 10-10-10 fertilizer in a band around the plant 6 to 12 inches from the crown.
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