Blueberries demand the right climate and planting soil but take very little care if you provide suitable conditions. They are about as hardy as a peach but need a fair amount of winter chill and will not grow well in mild winter climates.

Blueberries belong to the health family and count azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and huckleberries among their cousins. If any of these grow naturally near your garden, or if you have prepared an artificial site that suits them, then blueberries will also do well.

Blueberries like soil rich in organic material such as peat – very acid, but extremely well drained. Such soils are found in areas of high rainfall, which is lucky, since the berries need constant moisture, even though they cannot tolerate standing water.

Soil must be extremely well drained and acid. Plant in raised areas if there is any change of water standing around the roots.

For both drainage and acidification, add large amounts of peat moss or other organic material to the planting soil, up to three-quarters peat moss by volume for soils that tend to be heavy. Never add manure; it is alkaline. Dig a planting hole somewhat broader and deeper than the roots of the young plant. Never cramp the roots into a small hole, but spread the roots in the hole.

Set high bush blueberry plants about 4 feet apart. Choose two varieties for cross-pollination. Since the rabbit-eye plants grow much larger, you can set them up to 8 feet apart, although they can also be set closer and blended into each other.

Do not feed plants the first year. In succeeding years, use cottonseed meal, ammonium sulfate, or any product suitable for camellias, azaleas, or rhododendrons.

Blueberries require constant light moisture in the soil, and cultivating damages their shallow roots. For both these reasons, you should m mulch the plants heavily. Use any organic material such as straw, leaves, peat moss, or a combination, and renew it regularly to keep it about 6 inches deep. Some materials will use nitrogen as they decay, so you will have to compensate with extra feeding.

Blueberries suffer from very few difficulties, but birds will take them all unless you net the plants.

Always taste the blueberries before picking. Some look fully mature when still quite acid.

Approximately the same varieties are used throughout the country since the conditions for growing them are so similar.

Bark & Garden Center