Growing Blueberries Background

Growing Blueberries

Southern Highbush Blueberries

Developed to grow in climates with low chill hours

These are hybrids of blueberries which grew wild when European settlers first arrived in the New World. New Southern Highbush cultivars were developed to grow in California and other climates with low chill hours. Blueberry plants make an excellent addition to edible landscapes. They have dark blue green foliage and attractive pink or white blooms.

As a guideline, plant two plants for each blueberry loving family member. Plants can be planted as individual specimens or spaced about 2 feet apart to create a hedge. See varieties for heights and ripening times.

Planting in Containers

Potting mix should be acidic (pH 4.5-5.5)

For optimum control of soil factors, it is strongly recommended to plant in containers. The potting mix should be acidic, (pH 4.5-5.5) high in organic matter and well draining.

Recommended mix components include-

60%-80% ground and screened conifer bark, 10-30% peat moss, 10% Perlite or sand. After planting, keep the soil moist and mulch with bark, acid compost or sawdust.

Planting in the Ground

Most soils will require amendments to maintain acidity

Blueberries can be planted in the ground. Blueberry plants require abundant light and good air circulation so select your site accordingly. Work up a planting area 2 feet in diameter and one foot deep. Remove one third to one half of the soil. Add an equal amount of pre-moistened peat moss and mix well. One 4 cubic foot compressed bale will be sufficient for 4 - 5 plants. To conserve moisture and promote living soil structure, mulch with bark, pine needles, acid compost, or sawdust. If soil is poor or doesn't drain well, raised beds are effective. Most soils will require amendments to maintain acidity. Pine needle mulch or sulfur granules can be used to maintain acidity levels.


Blueberry plants do not like to dry out, so the watering regime should be consistent.

Blueberries require more water than many other garden plants. Keep soil moist. Blueberry plants do not like to dry out, so the watering regime should be consistent.


Remove dead wood and non vigorous twiggy wood

Pruning blueberry bushes to reduce the number of flowers and developing fruit will improve berry size and hasten development. Allow the plants to get well established in the first year by pinching off flower buds.

Thereafter each winter:

1. Remove low growth around the base. If it doesn't grow up, prune it out!

2. Remove dead wood and non vigorous twiggy wood. Select bright colored wood with long laterals. Remove blotchy colored short growth.

3. If 1/3 of the wood has not been removed by the above steps, thin out the fruiting laterals and small branches until the balance has been obtained.

4. As plants get older, prune to select 4-6 bright colored erect canes per bush. Prune these canes in October down to a height of 2-3 ft.


Blueberries like acid fertilizers such as Azalea formulations

Blueberries like acid fertilizers such as Azalea formulations. But be very careful not to use nitrogen in a NITRATE form!! For newly planted stock, use 2 tablespoons of 10-20-10 or similar fertilizer in late spring or once plants are established. Follow manufacturer's directions. For Organic fertilizers, use blood meal and cottonseed meal, and prepared compost. Avoid fresh manures. Blueberries are very sensitive to over-fertilization. Stop fertilizing by October, or the time of onset of cooler fall weather. Resume fertilizing in spring after blueberries have leafed out (around March 15).