blueberries fruit

Blueberry Bushes – Growing Blueberries

If you like blueberries and you don’t have any bushes — fall is the perfect time to plant.  You’ll need a year or two for them to start really producing — so don’t waste another season.  They can be easy to grow in spite of what you read online.

A little research about what you’re buying is good thing but don’t be overwhelmed by what you read. Before you get into all that research — take a few minutes to read my story about blueberries.

Looking back, I’m sorta glad I didn’t know much about blueberries when I ordered my first two Sunshine Blue blueberry bushes about 13 or 14 years ago.

The current advertisement for Sunshine Blue blueberry bushes has a picture of one in a container. Back when I bought mine, they were advertised as dwarf bushes — 3 to 4 feet – which is why they appealed to me. (Same bush – different way of advertising.)

I put each in a different spot in the garden. One stayed small and the other quickly grew to about 3 feet tall with a 3 foot spread and gave me lots and lots of berries for several years.

Unfortunately,  I made the mistake of letting a Rudbeckia get too close to the blueberry bush. It worked it’s way into the very center of the bush and was impossible to get out.  It killed the bush.

I ordered a dozen more Sunshine Blue.  I planted them across the entire width of my garden at the lower end.  They get shade after 5PM. I lost 4.  The other 8 are still growing and giving me berries.

Sunshine Blue Blueberry bushes in my garden.

Most of the information you read online (including forums) says that blueberries prefer a ph of 5.5 and won’t grow well if they don’t get it. (Some sources say the ph should be as low as 4.09 to 5.)   My soil ph is about 6.7. My bushes are lush and large and give me fruit for almost two full months – June and July.

Blueberry bush owners on forums also say the bushes like to be watered. As regular readers know, I don’t water.

I keep the bushes mulched with straw.  If I can get pine tags — I do — and pile them around the bushes in winter. (And no — pine tags do NOT make the soil acidic.) The decaying straw, leaves and pine tags add the organic matter the bushes need to grow.  I’ve never added any kind of fertilizer.  I don’t even given them additional compost.

I never had to prune these Sunshine Blue bushes until about year 8.  And that was minimal.  Basically, I cut some dead wood out and some tips of longer branches off.

I’m sure  glad my bushes never knew all the information that’s online about them. They’ve debunked all of it in the decade plus that they’ve been in my garden.

About 3 years ago, I decided that although my bushes look great and probably will produce for another few decades, I need to have backup.

I ordered a couple of new varieties.  If I remember correctly on was Blue Jay.

The other was Chandler which I chose because it’s suppose to produce the  biggest blueberries. It’s also suppose to need a lot of hours at temperatures between 32 degrees and 45 degrees Fahrenheit each winter.  I figured it might not be cold enough for them here in some winters, but it will be in others — so definitely worth a try.

Their first year — severe drought.  Second year – moderate drought. Third year – drought again. The BlueJay is looking good and producing fruit.

But the most fun — the Chandler.

Last winter I thought was relatively warmer than usual.  In spite of that Chandler — still a small bush — really put out some berries.  And boy were they huge!  Bill and I really had fun with them and were like kids checking that bush everyday.

Just in case you end up needing or wanting to know:

Sunshine Blue is considered a Southern Highbush. It’s said to be self pollinating, but yield is improved with cross-pollination. Growers indicate they are good in zones 7 to 10.  Needs very little cold compared to other blueberries. (150 chill hours)

Blue Jay is considered a Northern Highbush. And I think Chandler is as well. Self pollinating. Is said to need  a 1,000 chill hours in winter. Usually good in zones 3 to 7.

Final Thought

It’s always good to do a little research before your order.  But in my opinion — the only way you’ll ever know if blueberries will do well for you is to try them.

Believe me — they’re worth a gamble!

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Other Posts on Blueberries:

Growing Blueberry Bushes – Conventional vs. the TMG Way

Blueberry – Notes

Blueberry – Tip

Pruning Blueberry Bushes

Blueberries – Beware of Root Competition

Blueberries – What They Need

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Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot heathier.

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All content including photos are copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.

15 Comments

  • I really want to plant bluberries. We live in GA. What type you think I should order? Also I heard you need to have two different plants so bushes can produce. Any advice?

  • Alyona — for your first blueberry — why not try Sunshine blue. That way — you won’t need two different kinds. Also – Sunshine Blue doesn’t need as many chill hours as a lot of others varieties. It is said to be good for zone 7 to 10 and depending on what part of Georgia you are in — your zone would be anywhere from zone 7 through zone 9. So you should be fine.

    Unless your research indicates something that’s better — Sunshine Blue is what I would start with.

    Theresa

  • Thank you. I will buy Sunshine blue then. Is cooksgarden the best site to buy? Also, do you know where I can buy a nice young tree to plant?

  • Alyona, I don’t know which of those sites are “best”, but Cooks is certainly ok for the Blueberry bush.

    Trees will depend on what kind of tree you want. So you might want to give that a lot of thought. A lot of the places sell young trees, it will just depend on what kind you decide that you want.

    Theresa

  • I finally bought small blueberry plants. I have a question – should I plant them all together or in different places?
    Also, is place near fence will be fine?

  • Alyona – Whether or not you plant them all together will depend on what kind of situation you have. I have my Sunshine berries together in the garden in a long row. If you plant them like that then you need to give them plenty of room between the plants. 4 feet apart (at least) and if you bought a different kind they will usually require even more spacing.

    Near a fence should be ok as long as you have really prepared your ground well and they won’t have competition.
    Be sure and read my posts:
    https://tendingmygarden.com/pruning-blueberry-bushes/
    and
    https://tendingmygarden.com/blueberry-tip/

    Take the time to prepare your ground deeply and add lots of organic matter. (like leaves) Also — water deeply after you first plant. Mulch well.
    Let me know how you do. If you need more help — just ask.
    So happy you got them! They’re a great investment.
    Theresa

  • Thank you so much for the respond. I have a few more question for you. I’ll send you an email.

  • About 6 – 7 years ago I planted a few blueberry bushes as Marg’s favourite fruit. The first year we had some yield but non since. They don’t die and they don’t grow. I put them on a back burner while I played with my veggies. This article brought them back to mind and it’s time I did something. First thought is that for some reason I just planted them in the wrong place. I have had this happen before and moved some things 3 times before they were happy. Why? I have no idea but when I found that spot they just took off, so back to the drawing board to find that place. Maybe I picked the wrong ones in the first place??

    Happy gardening

    Ray

  • I know exactly what you mean Ray. And who knows why it happens.
    There are 3 bushes out of my dozen bushes that give little fruit and don’t grow very much and are within 2 feet of other bushes.
    Hope you find just the right spot for yours!
    Always good to hear from you Ray.
    Theresa

  • Hello I live in London loads of rain not enough sun I bought sunshine blues do you think they will be okay in shady locations? Can you recommend some varieties please thank you

  • Gurkan, taking you “literally” that you don’t have enough sun — then I can’t imagine growing fruits and vegetables. Many (if not most) need 6 to 8 hours a day of sun, baring the occasional rainy spell.

    I don’t know of any varieties of blueberries that are specifically for shady locations.

    It seems to me that all you can do now is wait and see what happens with your bushes.
    If your statement was an exaggeration, the bushes might do fine.

    Theresa

  • Hi, Theresa, I found your blog a little while ago and have been reading through the posts, very interesting information, I am really enjoying it and learning a lot, thank you so much for sharing.

    I am a beginner gardener and unfortunately at the moment I can only do it in containers or grow bags, mostly started from seed. I understand it’s not ideal, but that’s what I can do at the moment.

    I’m in Texas, zone 9A.

    I recently bought 3 blueberry bushes. Each was one variety, not sunshine, one was Premier, I don’t remember the others and can’t check right now, but the Premier is the one I want to mention.

    I replanted them in 3 very large containers, and added in the soil a bunch of leaves and pine needles to add organic matter and mulched with pine needles (I was already reading your blog, so I tried to do my best in my situation).

    I had not read your specific posts about blueberries, so I did use soil acidifier and an organic fertilizer for acid loving plants, both omri listed.

    I also put some worm castings in the hole when planting.
    I do compost but I noticed that all sorts of seedlings have started growing in it, so I didn’t add that to the blueberry containers.

    The Premier variety plant came with some spots on the leaves. I assumed it was from the trip from Florida in a box, and pretty much ignored it. All 3 had some new growth after being replanted so I was hopeful they were doing ok. But the spots on the leaves of the premier seem worse, not yet on the new growth, and it’s also losing leaves.

    I did some googling and apparently it might be a fungus but I couldn’t really identify it, and ideally I don’t want to spray anything or only the most natural product possible if necessary to save the plant.

    I just don’t want it to die, even if it doesn’t produce next year (it’s supposed to, but I’m fine waiting).

    In my other plants I did use some Sluggo (not plus), as you suggested, when I had too much slug damage, and BT when I was having a really bad situation with caterpillars and mostly cutworms. But other than that I don’t spray anything and use only organic fertilizer, worm castings,

    I stopped for now putting my compost in because of the seedlings, and I have been adding coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, that kind of thing, but not at least yet in the blueberry plants. Those as I said only got fertilizer twice, worm castings and soil acidifier once.

    I read that copper might help and it would be safe, but to be honest I haven’t done enough research yet, I only started worrying today.

    I haven’t seen any mention of anything like that in your blueberry posts at least so far, but if you do have any suggestions or know more about it I’d appreciate it. My hope is that it will get better eventually on its own or at least not kill the plant, but I’m worried.
    Thank you!

  • Welcome to TMG Lari!
    I’m so glad you are enjoying it and learning a lot.

    And I was so glad to learn that even though you are unable at the moment to garden in the ground, you’re not letting what you CAN’T do stop you from doing what you CAN do. That as you told me, is growing in containers.

    Another plus is that you are already starting things from seed.
    Good job!

    Spots on leaves can cover almost all plants, bushes, and trees at one time or another. And most are caused by a fungus.

    One thing I would do (especially since the bush was recently purchased) is to call the grower/seller. Tell them the bush came with some spots on the leaves and that you assumed it was from the trip. Also mention it is losing leaves. (And by the way, it would be normal for plants to lose leaves that are dying.) Also mention that it is putting out new growth that is green and has no problem thus far.

    Ask them if this is something you need to be concerned about.
    See what they say. If they recommend chemicals tell them you’re organic. Keep in mind that people who use chemicals have been brainwashed to think that no gardener can survive without them.
    So don’t get too excited if they list a lot of chemicals. Just keep asking questions.

    Also, many of the so-called “diseases” that may be present from time to time – sources will say are caused by fungus in decaying leaves and other natural sources. I ignore stuff like that. Nature is an ally and my garden has leaves added to it every fall.

    As you probably already have gathered from reading TMG, my garden is very healthy. In spite of that I have various spots on leaves from time to time.

    I tend to observe and not get too excited about it because in most cases it’s something that nature will take care of for me.

    Regarding copper:
    Years ago I researched copper. I determined then it was just too dangerous to use. Most good sources will address the dangers.

    After you call the grower, I hope you’ll check back and let me know what they said and we can address the problem again with the new information you have.

    Again, welcome to TMG, Lari. Nice to have you reading.

    Theresa

  • Thank you, Theresa!
    I was able to read your response now so please ignore my email saying it didn’t show up before.
    I feel quite silly, because as obvious as it now is I didn’t think of contacting the grower, thanks for pointing it out. I’ll do it this week.
    And thanks about the comment on copper, I had not done research on it but will not use it, I’ve been reading your blog enough to trust you on it.
    I’m hoping I’m just panicking for no reason, since I’m inexperienced. But my previous panicking over a cucumber plant certainly added to its issues and premature death, so I’m trying not to react without thinking first.
    I actually found some more leaves I had collected a little while back and put in the garage prior to a rain and added them as more mulching on the blueberry containers, since it’s getting colder even here in Texas. I did it even before you mentioned it on your reply, because I had read so much about it on your blog and figured it would be helpful in the long run, even if only for any replacement plant, in case this poor blueberry doesn’t make it. I also did it after a good rain, as you recommend.
    I’m not following you blindly just because you say so, but because it does make so much sense, something I fear people are losing touch with, just thinking if something makes sense or not, and letting that influence their decision.
    Thanks for getting back to me, I appreciate it. Your engagement with your readers is certainly one of the things that makes your blog so interesting, I personally always read the comments and your responses and feel they add a lot.

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