Blueberries are sometimes a quiet fruit. These little gems can be packed full of gentle sweetness, or they can feature a boisterous sweet-tart taste that makes you pucker your lips and smile. If you love blueberries, you’re not alone. They rank up there with my all time favorite fruits.
Why Eat Blueberries
Blueberries are a powerful plant. They’re packed full of antioxidants, and they have some of the highest antioxidant levels found in fruit. What’s more, they’re fabulous for mixing into smoothies, and their blue skin is the secret to sneaking vegetables like spinach into your kids’ delicious morning drink.
How To Grow Blueberries
Plant your blueberry bushes in full sun and in rich soil that is full of organic matter. Space your blueberry plants are least 4 feet apart. Be aware that lowbush blueberries can grow to be about 2 feet high, while highbush blueberries often grow over 4 feet. The bushes need several feet to spread out as well.
Blueberries are the black sheep of the vegetable and fruit family. Or is that the blue sheep? They love acidic soil, so they’re very different from most of your other fruit and vegetable crops. Coddle your blueberry plants by giving them special care in their own part of the garden. Wood chips and needles from coniferous trees make excellent mulch for blueberries. These berries also like the wet. They love growing on old coniferous logs. If you cut down an old, rotten conifer, plant pieces in the garden and plant blueberries on top! If you don’t have adequate mulch in your garden, you’ll need to water your blueberries thoroughly to ensure that they get enough water.
Types of Blueberry Plants
Like raspberries, different varieties of blueberries are suitable for different times and locations. Some varieties will self pollinate successfully, while others require cross-pollination to make fruit. Know your berries and choose the right one for your situation.
Highbush Blueberry or Vaccinium corymbosum is hardy in zones 3 to 7. These blueberries will self-pollinate, but they get a better yield when they are cross-pollinated. The Rabbiteye Blueberry or Vaccinium ashei prefers zones 7 to 9, and it needs to be cross-pollinated. The Southern Highbush or Vaccinium formosum likes zones 7 to 10. Like the Highbush, it will self-pollinate, but it does better when it cross-pollinates.
Within these broad blueberry categories are many different varieties of blueberries. Some are large, some are small. While they all have a slightly different flavor, they’re all delicious. Like raspberries, some varieties of blueberry are early producers and some produce fruit later in the summer. You can have blueberries all summer, but you do need to plant a variety of different bushes if you would like a consistent crop. If you’d like your berries to cross-pollinate, it’s also important to make sure that at least some of your blueberries will flower at the same time.
Blueberry plants can be slow to produce fruit. If your blueberries aren’t producing a lot of berries, they may just be too young! Blueberry bushes may not produce a lot of berries until their sixth year!
Do you have a sunny spot handy? These lovely bushes will produce berries for years. Try growing a few blueberry bushes, and you’ll have pies and smoothies in store.