Saturday, 18 February 2017


I don't claim to be an expert on Blueberries, but I just want to write a few words about what I have learned about them...

The first thing is: Blueberries love acid soil and will not thrive if they don't get it. Not all suppliers will tell you this, in order to avoid putting you off buying their product because it may be perceived as difficult to grow. The solution is to grow them in containers, where you can more easily control their growing-medium:

As you can see, I have four Blueberry plants, and they are all in containers filled with Ericaceous compost, the type specially formulated for lime-hating plants like Blueberries.

My Blueberries are all ones obtained as Freebies in magazines, so I don't know their names. One of them produces pink berries. It is the one seen at the left in my photos. It's interesting to see that unlike the other three it hasn't dropped its leaves over the Winter. I expect that once Spring begins, those leaves will fall off and be replaced with new ones.

Blueberry plants produce most of their fruit on growth from the previous year, often in the form of a number of twiggy shoots at the end of a bigger branch, which is a point to bear in mind when pruning.

New shoots (red) emanating from an old branch (brown)

When I first started growing Blueberries I used to prune them quite severely each year, in an attempt to keep them compact, but the yields were disappointing. I have since learned that it's best not to cut too much off, even if this means letting the plants get very tall. When you get your young (Freebie?) Blueberry plant as a little tiny stick in a 1-litre pot you may not immediately realize that it will soon grow to 5 feet tall or more! This year I have just trimmed a bit off the tallest stems to make it easier to net them. I think the best approach to pruning is probably to remove some of the oldest stems in their entirety, when they get very woody. This promotes the formation of fresh growth from the base of the plant, rather than at the top.

By the way, I have learned through experience that Blueberries are very attractive to birds - particularly Blackbirds. And Blackbirds are both voracious and cunning. If you do not securely net your Blueberries, you will most likely lose all their fruit! In the past I have constructed various forms of temporary fruit-cage to protect my plants, reasoning that they are only vulnerable while the fruit is ripe or nearly so, but to be honest, a more permanent structure would be highly desirable. The Blackbirds will often steal the fruit well before a human would consider it edible, so "Better Safe Than Sorry" is the best policy.

You may have noticed that a couple of the Blueberry pots have got a lot of moss in them (why not all four, I ask...?)

Now, I'm not sure how much of a problem this is, but I'm planning to remove the moss soon anyway. My reasoning is that it probably uses up water and nutrients that should more properly be available to the Blueberries themselves, and may perhaps cause the compost to be more airless than would otherwise be the case.

Talking of water, Blueberries are supposedly best watered copiously (they are originally a bog plant, I think), and preferably with rain water. The water that comes out of our taps is full of chemicals that may adversely affect the pH of the compost. I have to say though that I know of several people who have disregarded this advice and yet have produced fine crops of Blueberries...

And if you do all the right things (or if you're lucky), this is what you get:

I'm not going to kid you that I have had massive crops from just 4 plants, but the yield has certainly been worthwhile. I would say off the top of my head that about 500g per plant would be a good result. Frustratingly, Blueberries ripen successively, not all at once, so you have to pick the berries on several occasions. I tend to pick all those that are mainly blue, even if it's obvious they are not 100% ripe, and then ripen them indoors. This is not only more convenient, but it also reduces the risk of losing them to the birds.

One final thought: Just like Strawberries, some Blueberry plants produce their fruit early in the year (June, maybe), and others later - say September or October - so it's possible to have ripe berries available for quite a long period of time. If you are buying new plants, it's worth researching this.


  1. We usually go and pick the blueberries every day, to your point they don't ripe all at once - the yield is not spectacular when you do it everyday but it add up nevertheless. We just put them on a tray and freeze them for later use. Or pick them early morning to add to American pancakes for breakfast - yum :-)

  2. I had never considered growing blueberries because the soil in these parts is quite alkaline, the bedrock being limestone. But pots sound like a real possibility. Do you grow them in a peat moss based potting mix? I would definitely have to net them, the redwing blackbirds here are numerous.

    1. The growing-medium I use is marketed as "Ericaceous compost" - see it in a post HERE:-

  3. We have considered buying a pink blueberry. Do you recommend them?

    1. My pink Blueberry bush is not yet mature, Sue, so it hasn't produced much fruit. The berries are nice though - and one advantage is that they are so pale that the birds don't recognise them as being ripe!

  4. Hi Mark, being in a pot I guess they need feeding, what do you use? Standard tomato type feed or special stuff?

    1. Andy, I don't recall ever having fed the Blueberry plants, so I definitely haven't bought any specialist stuff. If you plan to use tomato-feed, I guess you would need to check the pH of it.

  5. This is a timely post as I've just been given 3 blueberry bushes as a present. They are 3 different varieties designed to produce berries throughout the summer. Here's hoping they do!

  6. We have two large but different blueberries growing in our alkaline soil. I was told by a Norweigan lady that they plant theirs with nails that will rust. Or they use iron filings in and on top of the soil. So far, this seems to be working for us. This is the first year I have removed one whole stem, hopefully it will generate some new stems from the base.


Thank you for taking time to leave me a comment! Please note that Comment Moderation is enabled for older posts.