How To Grow Blueberries

Blueberry is a nutrient rich fruit possessing soluble fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries contain more cancer-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable.

Find detailed information and tips on growing organic blueberries in pots and garden beds at home.

I have found growing blueberries relatively easy in Sydney, Australia, but many people struggle with them and fail. The reason lies in the soil.

Blueberries can be grown easily in containers. Propagating blueberries by stem cuttings is also possible.

The blueberries plants are shrubs and belong to the Vaccinium genus- the heath (Ericaceae) family of plants whose other members include the cranberry and bilberry, azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron.

How big does a blueberry bush grow?
There are three groups of blueberries:
High bush Blueberries (4-7 feet high), Low bush Blueberries (less than 2 ft high) and Rabbit eye Blueberries (4-10 feet high).

The high bush types have often been hybridized to produce larger size berries that are commonly available at fruit stores and plant nurseries. The low bush types produce berries of a smaller size and grow wild, not commonly found in markets.

Blueberries contain more cancer-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable (blueberry nutrition and health benefits). Organically grown blueberries contain more total anthocyanin antioxidants, phenol antioxidants and significantly higher total antioxidant capacity.(Antioxidant foods, Top antioxidant foods)

Blueberry Growing Tips

Blueberries are a perennial crop and are one of the easiest fruits to grow in your garden.

Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. The following tips will be helpful in growing your own blueberries.

When To Plant Blueberries?

You can plant at any time you get the small plant from the garden shop. They grow well in spring and summer.

Planting in Pots

Blueberries can be grown in containers or pots. They are shallow-rooted shrubs with fine, fibrous, surface-feeding roots, like azaleas and rhododendrons. The container need not be very deep, but should be wide.

I grow my organic blueberry plants in 40-50 cm wide containers. But I started with smaller pots and changed to bigger ones when the plants grew. It is better to leave top 4-5 inch of the pot empty so that you can put composts every year on top of the soil.

Water your blueberry plants such that it does not come out of the drainage holes. This will save the nutrients, specifically the acidity of the soil.

Position: Where To Plant Blueberries?

Blueberries grow best in full sun. Select the position of the plant carefully taking into account the need of acidic and freely draining weed-free soil and good air drainage that is essential for successful organic production. Once planted, it is very difficult to make major changes to improve soil.

Blueberry baby plant from Nursery
Blueberry Plant
from Nursery

I didn't have ideal soil and position so I planted my blueberries in a pot using a baby plant in a container bought from a garden nursery shop.

Some people want to grow blueberries from seeds, but Growing them from established plants is the simplest way.

Planting Steps

  1. Take a pot of size 60 diameter and 50 cm height with drainage holes at the bottom.
  2. Spacing: If you are growing blueberries in ground, then plant them as close as 90 cm (3 feet) in rows, at least 1.5 m (5 feet) apart.
  3. Soil For Blueberry Bush
    Choosing a correct soil is the most important step in growing blueberries successfully.
    1. An ideal blueberry soil should have a humus-rich soil having a pH of 4 - 5.5 and low calcium content. Mix equal amounts of pine chips, peat moss and a premium quality azalea potting mix. Instead of peat moss, you could mix decaying plant leaves, animal bones, pine sawdust or wood chips that make the soil rich in organic matter. Fill the pot with this potting mix and make a hole slightly larger than the baby plant container at the top center of the soil to put the plant there.
    2. A lot of people struggle with growing blueberries because of incorrect soil they use. If the soil is alkaline, add sphagnum peat or compost or rotten leaves to make it acidic besides adding a good source of organic matter.
  4. Carefully take out the plant from the container and lightly roughen up the outside surface of the root ball with hand. Place the plant at the hole in the pot. Plant slightly deeper than it stood in its nursery pot.
  5. Spread a 15 cm layer of organic mulch over the ground.
  6. Place the pot in a sunny position.


After planting, apply a 15 cm of mulch of sawdust, wood chips, straw, shredded leaves, pine chips, sugarcane mulch or grass clippings to conserve moisture and prevent weeds. This mulch will keep the roots cool and moist. Do not use cedar or redwood trees bark or sawdust as mulch. Mix some kelp meal into mulch to add trace minerals.


As blueberries are sensitive to chemicals, rain water is ideal for irrigation because it contains few dissolved salts (rain that has no pollution in it has a pH of 5.6). Gray or recycled water is not suitable. If your water is alkaline i.e. hard water, acidify it with 4 teaspoons of vinegar per 10 liter.

In warm weather plants should be watered every 2 days. Avoid watering plants over their foliage to avoid leaf fungal diseases.


  1. Do not fertilize for at least six weeks after planting. Blueberries require nitrogen in plenty in the form of ammonium sulfate or urea or from manures. They don't like nitrates and chlorides. They enjoy Sulfate of Potash.
  2. During the first year, feed liquid fish fertilizer or liquid rhododendron fertilizer.
  3. Fertilize in early spring and in late spring with Azalea fertilizer to the drip line. Water thoroughly after fertilizing. Use less fertilizer than what is recommended since they are very sensitive to over-fertilization, the plant will die.
  4. You can apply some pelleted slow release organic fertilizer in early spring every year.
  5. A good 3 month slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer every 3 months 
  6. Give a liquid feed (comfrey tea fertilizer) 2 times through the growing season.
  7. A good liquid foliar feed every 2 weeks from the first sign of fruit will increase fruit size.

Organic fertilizers for Blueberries

Organic fertilizers are ideal because they are less likely to burn the plant's delicate roots. These fertilizers have a slower release time. Slow release organic nitrogen sources are acidic cotton seed meal (6-2.5-1.7), feather meal (13-0-0), fish meal (10-4-0), soybean meal (7-1.6-2-3) or alfalfa meal (3-1-2). Blood meal (NPK 12-1.5-0.6) is a quick acting fertilizer that lasts 6 to 8 weeks.
  1. A 3-inch-thick layer of leaves or sawdust promotes a healthy blueberry bush.
  2. Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen. Rake 4 cups of coffee grounds into the top layer of soil.
  3. The fallen tree leaves can be crushed and racked into the top soil.
  4. Pine sawdust, wood chips, Blood meal, soybean meal, fish meal, Alfalfa meal, cotton seed meal, feather meal, etc. are good sources of organic fertilizers. Use soybean or alfalfa meal at the rate of 1/2 to 2 cups per plant depending on plant size.
  5. Never use any kind of manure.
  6. Foliage Feeding - Liquid seaweed or fish emulsion or compost tea can be sprayed on foliage of the plant at the time of first appearance of buds, before harvest and just after harvest.


Blueberry bushes bloom in winter to produce fruits for picking up in summer. Harvest blueberries after a few days after they turn blue to allow them to reach their full flavor and aroma. You could tickle the blue bunches of berries, the fully ripe ones will fall off into your hand to reward yourself with the sweetest berries.

Pruning Tips For Blueberry Bush

Blueberry Plant
Blueberry Plant 3rd Yea
  1. In the first 2 years, remove most of the flower blooms as they appear. This allows plant to put all of its energy in growing.
  2. Remove low growth around the base.
  3. Remove the old, dry stems every winter.
  4. Annual hard pruning of the plant will encourage healthier and more vigorous growth producing larger fruits.
  5. Keep vertical branches to promote upward growth and remove horizontal branches which may touch to the ground. Open the canopy to promote air movement. Also reduce branches touching to each other.
  6. Cut them back either down to ground level or to a vigorous new shoot near the ground.
  7. Avoid over-fruiting which results in small fruit or poor growth, so prune your plant to half its size each year for vigorous growth after 3 years.
  8. Remember, blueberries produce fruit on the tips of the previous season's growth.

Pests, Diseases and Problems

These plants are generally trouble-free. Caterpillars can damage the plant. The plant is susceptible to fungal leaf diseases under high humidity. Apply a good fungicide to protect against this.

Birds will undoubtedly be after your berries. Luckily there are several things to protect your berries from birds. The effective way that I do to deter them is by covering the bushes with a netting.

Storing Blueberries can be frozen in a freezer proof container or zip lock bag without doing damage to their antioxidant properties.

NotePlant 2-3 varieties of the plant to allow them to cross-pollinate and produce better yield with bigger fruits. You may plant an early, a mid and a late variety together to get berries for a longer period.

The video shows the hundreds of blooms or flowers on my blueberry plants, which will grow as blueberries in 2 months time.


  1. Plants Profile: Vaccinium corymbosum L., High bush blueberry, US Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service. 2013. 
  2. Yi W, Fischer J, Krewer G, Akoh CC, Phenolic compounds from blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis, J Agric Food Chem. 53 (18), 7320–9, 2005. 
  3. The benefits of berries, Chicago Tribune, 2011-03-03. 
  4. In-depth nutrition information on raw blueberries,, 
  5. Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention,Fact Sheet. National Cancer Institute. 
  6. Basu A, Du M, Leyva MJ et al., Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome,The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Sep 2010. Vol. 140, Iss. 9; p. 1582-1587. 2010. 
  7. Still AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD et al. Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Oct 2010. Vol. 140, Iss. 10; p. 1764-1768. 2010. 
  8. Carroll J et al., 2013 production Guide for Organic Blueberries, NYS IPM Publication No. 225, ttp://
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  1. Should I prune my blueberry plants?

    1. For the first 3 years, no pruning is required except removing dead tips and branches and horizontal thin branches near the base.

  2. What is the best time to plant a blueberry plant?

    1. You can plant a potted blueberry plant that you buy from your nursery at any time because these potted plants have a good root system, so they undergo minimal transplant shock.

  3. How big a blueberries bushes grow?

    1. Blueberries bushes can grow to a height of 4-7 feet depending on the blueberry bush type. Low bush type grows to less than 2 ft high.


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