Blueberries are one of the easiest fruit plants to grow when planted right and in the right spot.

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know...


Cultural Preferences



Soil Preferences

Blueberries grow best in an acid, organically rich, well-drained but consistently moist soil. 


How To Test Soil Drainage

If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your blueberry bushes, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and could be a caution you might need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.


Soil pH

Blueberry plants grow best in an acid soil ranging between 4.8 to 5.2 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0, meaning you might want to test pH of the soil. 


Testing Soil pH  

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. 

If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it is suitable for growing blueberry bushes, it's a good idea to test the pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil SulfurAluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.




Light Preferences

Blueberry bushes grow and produce the most fruit in full to mostly sun. However, they will tolerate some light shade. For best fruit production, we suggest at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day during the growing season.



Planting Blueberry Bushes In The Ground

Scroll down for container planting instructions


Spacing Plants

Solid Hedges: When growing blueberry bushes as a solid hedge, space plants in the row about 18-24 inches closer together than their highest listed mature width. For example, if a specific blueberry bush variety has a listed mature width of 5 feet, space plant 3.5 to 4 feet apart on center in the the row, which means from the center of one plant in the row to the center of the next plant in the row. 

Space Between Plants:  If you want there to be space between your plants, space 2 feet or more apart than the highest listed width of the plant. For example, if your specific variety of blueberry bush is listed to grow to 6 feet wide at maturity, space plants a minimum of 8 feet apart on center, which means from the center of one plant in the row to the center of the next plant in the row. 

Space Between Rows:  If you will be planting multiple rows of blueberry bushes, it's a little more difficult to determine how far apart to space the rows. If you space rows 8 to 10 feet apart you should have room to walk and mow between rows. 



Step-By-Step Planting Instructions


Step 1

Start by digging your planting hole at least three times as wide and as deep or not much deeper than the root ball of your plant. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.


Step 2

Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area, it may be beneficial to amend the native soil. When planting in heavy clay or or poor soil, mix in a good soil conditioner or planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil to provide good drainage while also helping to retain some moisture. When planting in a sandy or quick-draining soil, amending with top soil, organic compost, and/or peat moss will help to retain moisture and supply vital plant nutrients. When planting in a fertile, loamy, well-drained moist soil there may not be a need to amend soil.


Step 3

To safely remove your plant from the nursery container it was growing in, grasp the base of the plant and try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. If the root ball is stuck in the container it's best to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. If root bound, you can gently spray the sides and bottom of the root ball with a stream of water from a garden hose. This will help to wash away some soil from the exterior of the root ball making it easier to loosen roots. 


Step 4

Set your plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level to allow for settling. It may be necessary to place some of your backfill soil mixture in the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.




Step 5

After setting your plant in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight while using your other hand to begin backfilling the soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue backfilling to the top edge of the root ball. To avoid suffocating your plant, avoid placing any soil on top of the root ball.


Step 6 (Optional)

When planting your blueberry bushes in a location that is far from a water source, you can use remaining soil mixture to build a water retaining berm (catch basin) around the outside perimeter of the planting hole, as shown in the illustration above. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation often reducing the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a year when the plant has established itself.


Step 7 

Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, to stimulate early root formation and stronger root development you can also water you newly planted Blueberry plant with a solution of Root Stimulator, which reduces transplant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants. 

Note:  Avoid feeding blueberry plants with fertilizers that contain a nitrate form of nitrogen as this will damage roots.


Step 8

To conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, apply a 1 to 2" layer of pine bark mulch, a good organic compost, or a 3-4" layer of pine straw around your newly planted blueberry bush. As the mulch decomposes it will add vital nutrients to the soil that your plant will appreciate. Avoid the use of freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of the shrub as this could cause problems with the bark.




Planting A Blueberry Bush In A Container


Blueberries growing in pots appreciate a moist but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy soil can and often will cause root rot or other harmful or deadly plant diseases. Therefore, I recommend using a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof and a container that has a drainage hole(s). 

Choose a container that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. A container 8 inches wider than the root ball of your blueberry plant should be sufficient.

Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the colors of your plant, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment. 

Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.


Step-By-Step Container Planting Instructions


Step 1

Before filling your container with the soil mix, I recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. 


Step 2

To safely remove your plant from the nursery container it was growing in, grasp the base of the plant and try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. If the root ball is stuck in the container it's best to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. If root bound, you can gently spray the sides and bottom of the root ball with a stream of water from a garden hose. This will help to wash away some soil from the exterior of the root ball making it easier to loosen roots. 


Step 3

Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set the plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the rim of the container.




Step 4

Backfill with your potting soil around the root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.


Step 5

Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.


Step 6 (Optional)

Apply a 1/2" layer of pine bark mini nuggets or shredded aged wood mulch to soil surface to help conserve moisture.




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