Tasty blue fruits and vibrant fall foliage make blueberry plants landscape all-stars. Call on this plant to create a multitasking hedge. Add several blueberries to a shrub border as a colorful, fruitful planting partner. Plant breeders have selected many new varieties that thrive in containers, producing patio-side fruit that is just as sweet and delectable as the fruit grown on 8-foot-tall shrubs.
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Blueberry Care Must-Knows
Blueberries demand the right climate and soil but take only minimum care if you provide a site suitable to their somewhat exacting conditions. Growing blueberries requires a fair amount of cool weather in the winter; they won't grow well at all in mild winter climates. They also require full sun, so avoid setting them on the east or north side of a building where bright sunlight is limited or below trees that will provide shade for several hours a day.
Blueberries prefer well-drained, sandy, acidic soil and grow best in soil with a pH reading of 4.0 to 5.5. (Contact your local extension service to learn more about the general pH reading of soils in your area.) Make soil more acidic and therefore hospitable to blueberries by incorporating sphagnum peat moss into the mix. Sulfur also can lower the pH, but add it one year before planting blueberries as this chemical element reacts slowly with soil. If your landscape is plagued by poor soil, consider planting blueberries in large containers where you control the soil make-up. Vaccinium 'Top Hat,' Vaccinium 'Sunshine Blue,' Peach Sorbet Vaccinium corymbosum 'ZF06-043', Blueberry Glaze Vaccinium x 'ZF08-095', and Jelly Bean Vaccinium corymbosum 'ZF06-179' are small blueberry varieties that are easy to grow outside of the garden.
Blueberry Planting Tips
For best pollination and fruit set, plant two or three different blueberry cultivars. Blueberries are grouped by plant size. Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum 'Jubilee', for example) are 6 to 12 feet tall at maturity, while half-high blueberries (such as Vaccinium 'Chippewa') usually grow 2 to 4 feet tall. Low-bush blueberries (e.g., Vaccinium angustifolium 'Burgundy') are just 1 foot tall and generally have smaller berries than the other two varieties.
Plant container-grown blueberry plants in spring or early summer. Be sure to water them deeply once a week during the first growing season. Early spring is the best time to plant the dormant, bare-root blueberry plants from mail-order sources. Soak the roots of bare-root plants in water for about an hour before planting.
Blueberries are ready to pick two to four months after flowering, from July to September. Hold a container in one hand and use your other hand to gently loosen berries from the cluster so they drop into the container. Ripening berries turn from green to pinkish-red to blue, but not all blue ones are fully ripe.
Blueberries are extremely perishable. Store them unwashed in the refrigerator for up to one week. Enjoy them fresh out of hand, on cereals and in fruit salads, or cooked in baked goods, jams, and preserves. Rinse and dry berries and freeze them in single layers for long-term storage.
More Varieties of Blueberry
This variety of Vaccinium bears large, firm, pale blue fruit that stores well. The 5- to 6-foot-tall and wide plants have yellow stems in winter. Zones 4-7
Vaccinium reliably produces large, light blue fruits with good tart flavor. The 4- to 6-foot-tall bushes are hardy and thrive in a short growing season. Zones 4-8
This blueberry variety has very large, firm, sweet fruit. This upright plant thrives in many climates and grows particularly well in the Pacific Northwest. Zones 3-7
The large, light-blue fruit of this Vaccinium variety remains tart until near harvest. The fruit of this tall, upright plant are good both fresh and for cooking. Zones 3-7
This variety of Vaccinium is a highbrush blueberry with large, sweet fruits said to be the size of nickels. A self-pollinating cultivar, you only need one plant for fruit set. Zones 4-7
This is a variety of Vaccinium produces an early crop of large, sweet fruit. This highbush blueberry is commonly grown for both fresh eating and culinary uses. Zones 5-7
Vaccinium has medium, firm berries with good flavor. The 6- to 8-foot-tall bushes are hardy and disease resistant. Zones 4-8
The late-ripening, firm, and very flavorful dark blue fruits of this Vaccinium variety make it stand out. 'Lateblue' has a more tart flavor than other berries. Zones 5-7
This variety of Vaccinium grows just 1-2 feet tall and is self-pollinating, so you only need one plant to get fruit. The sweet fruit is dark blue and large. Zones 4-8
This variety of blueberry produces large, sweet fruit with a mild flavor. A mature 1- to 2-foot-tall plant produces 2-3 pounds of fruit. Zones 4-8
Vaccinium yields a large crop of sweet, sky blue blueberries. The 1- to 2-foot-tall shrub has yellow-orange fall color. Zones 3-7
This Vaccinium variety grows 4 feet tall and produces large, sweet, dark blue fruit. Use this medium-size cultivar in the landscape and enjoy showy spring flowers and bright orange fall foliage. Zones 3-7