GYO Blueberries

Blueberries are a native of North America and in recent years their popularity has increased. Much publicity has been afforded them praising them as a “super food”. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, which are believed to help prevent cancer. So it is claimed that they have some health benefits.

 

By growing them yourself you can indeed save some money on the shop bought ones, which can be expensive. One of the great things about Blueberries is that they are perfectly happy in a container, making it an ideal patio plant.

 

Blueberries are an attractive plant with white delicate flowers in summer and attractive autumn foliage, adding colour and shape to the garden.

 

Growing Tips

 

  • Blueberries are well known for their acid–loving nature. If you know you have an acidic soil then they are fine planted in open ground. If grown in a container then you will need to use ericaceous compost on a top layer of broken pots or gravel to provide drainage. You could grow a few blueberry bushes together in a raised bed, ensuring that you add ericaceous compost.

 

  • Blueberries like company, so growing at least two bushes together, ideally three, will increase pollination of the flowers, producing a better crop.

 

  • Blueberries need a lot of space to become very productive, use pots at least 45cm (18”) wide.

 

  • Blueberries like to be kept consistently moist but never waterlogged. Use rainwater wherever possible as this has a lower PH than tap water.

 

  • Pot grown plants will need a monthly feed with ericaceous fertiliser or a seaweed feed. In addition mulch twice a year with ericaceous compost.

 

  • In order to prune blueberries you will need to understand its growth habit. Fruit is produced on the short side shoots that were produced during the spring and the previous summer. In a mature bush the aim is to produce a balance of three types of wood: one third new, one third from the previous year, plus one third of older stems.

 

  • Blueberries won’t need pruning in the first two years, except for removing old, dead or crossing wood. Three year old plants should be pruned in late February to March. To prune take out old spindly growth or branches that are crossing. Then remove the twiggy growth at the end of last year’s fruiting branches to a healthy, upward facing bud low down on the branch. These buds will grow next year’s fruiting stems over the coming season. Lastly take out up to a third of the oldest, woody stems. 

 

  • The berries are grouped in little clusters that ripen at different times. This staggers the harvest, so pick the berries as they ripen. Berries are ready when they are completely dark blue and have a whitish bloom on the surface.

 

  • Blueberries reach maximum productivity at about seven years old, producing as much as 6kg (13 lbs.) of fruit.

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