Caring for, cutting and fertilizing blueberries — with our tips for a bountiful harvest

Botanical name: Vaccinium corymbosum
Other names: cultivated blueberry, American blueberry, blueberry
Use: fruit for immediate consumption and processing, sweet fruit, container plant
Origin: North America
Flowering period: depending on the variety from April to May, cream-white, pale pink
Harvest period: mid-June to late August
Particularities:Blueberries are self-fertile, which means you can still harvest fruit from one plant. Cross-pollination occurs on multiple plants, which can result in higher yields and larger fruits. The forest blueberry native to us is not involved in the emergence of the cultivated form. All types of blueberries require acidic soil.

Blueberries are popular and very healthy berries. The species known as cultivated blueberries bear fruits that are larger than those of the native wild species (Vaccinium myrtillus). Furthermore, the skin of the small forest blueberries contains a high proportion of the coloring agent anthocyanin, the cultivated blueberries in turn have light-colored flesh and the tongue is not so intensely colored when eating. For a long time you had to search for the tasty berries on sparse woody edges as well as in moorland and heathland. The cultivar of the blueberry, which originated in America, has been available as a garden plant for several years. Elaborate breeding has resulted in a large number of varieties, which are particularly characterized by larger fruits and low demands on care. Nevertheless, a sunny locationand a sandy to peaty soil with a pH below 5 is necessary for successful cultivation. Here you will find all the important information about the blueberry bush.

In which location does the blueberry feel most comfortable?

Blueberries prefer a sunny, sheltered location in the garden or on the balcony. The aroma and fruit size are significantly influenced by intense sunlight. The bog plant also grows in semi-shade, but the fruits are much smaller and the yield is lower than in the sun. The fruit tree is hardy and can stand in the same place for many years. When planted in a pot, it is important that there is no waterlogging in winter and that the pot is protected with winter protection materials, but the shrub is outdoors all year round. Note that for a successful blueberry culture, the soil must be acidic. Lingonberries (Vacccinium vitis-idea) and cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are other suitable items to plant with.

How can I plant blueberries?

Find out everything about planting blueberries, the right time to plant the popular blueberries, possible planting partners for blueberries and optimal planting distances .

When is the best time to plant blueberries?

From March you can plant blueberries. Once the ground is no longer frozen, blueberries can be planted in pots or in the ground. The best planting time is in spring or late summer, so that the young blueberry plants can still grow well. After the winter, you can buy blueberry plants from mid-March to mid-May and plant them in the ground, in raised beds or in containers. If planted too late in the fall, there is a greater risk of frost damage, so timely planting is importantof blueberries important. Whether you plant blueberries in pots or in the ground, the soil pH should be between 3.5 and 5 for ericaceous plants. Most of the time, the pH of the garden soil is not ideal for blueberries. Therefore, only plant with plenty of bog bed soil, rhododendron soil or hydrangea soil. The acidic environment in the soil is essential for the aromatic berries.

Pro tip: In poor, unsuitable soil conditions, planting blueberries in raised beds or large tubs with rhododendron earth is an optimal and more sustainable solution for a rich harvest.

Which planting partners go well with blueberries?

Blueberries are self-fertile, meaning their own pollen is suitable for fertilization. However, cross-pollination increases the yield of blueberries. It is therefore an advantage if you plant two different blueberries. As a result, the best planting partner for a blueberry is another blueberry plant.

In the home garden, however, good yields can also be expected from single blueberries. Since blueberries grow best in acidic soil, the choice of planting neighbors is somewhat limited. The plant partners should also grow at low pH.

Possible combinations for blueberries are cranberries, cranberries or currants. In addition to berries, there is the option of choosing ornamental shrubs as planting partners for blueberries. Azaleas, rhododendrons or hydrangeas are well suited for the combination with the blueberries. The latter have a high water requirement, which can lead to the berry bushes suffering if they are planted too densely. It is therefore important to carefully select the planting partners for blueberries and to care for them as required.

Fact: Blueberries are flat-rooted. For this reason you should not choose plants as partners that cause enormous root pressure (such as ivy) and only work the soil around the blueberry plants gently.

When can you harvest blueberries?

If blueberries are planted in spring, strong planting material can produce a good crop of fruits in the first summer. Ripe fruits can be recognized by a dark blue stalk and the fruits that are no longer quite firm. Depending on the variety, it takes between 70 and 100 days from flowering to the first harvest. In the case of early-ripening varieties, you can harvest blueberries from the end of June in climatically favorable regions. The harvest lasts for weeks, fruit always ripens later and you should pick the blueberry bushes about twice a week. On late varieties you can harvest blueberries until the end of August/beginning of September. Especially on the balcony it is an experience when you can harvest ripe blueberries for weeks. Blueberries are the climbers in the popularity ranking of berries. Right after strawberries comes the blue sweet fruit with an increasing trend in cultivation and consumption.

Pro tip: Cover your blueberry bushes with bird netting from mid-June. In this way you secure the harvest, because birds also love blueberries.

Step-by-step instructions on how to plant blueberries

The right soil is important when planting the blueberries. Blueberries tolerate incorrect soil conditions only moderately. With normal garden soil and a pH value of over 6, the blueberry bush suffers. Therefore, the use of rhododendron soil or other acidic soil when planting blueberries is essential. The blueberries can be planted directly in the ground, in a raised bed or in sufficiently large tubs (30 to 50 liter capacity).

  • Planting distance for cultivated blueberries within the row: 70 cm
  • Row spacing for blueberries: 1 to 1.5 m

    Planting blueberries in the ground – step-by-step instructions:

  1. Loosen the soil well and remove all weeds. A deep and well-drained location is ideal for blueberries.
  2. Dig a planting hole twice as wide and at least 10 to 15 cm deeper than the root ball.
  3. Put 5 to 10 liters of rhododendron soil or other acidic soil in the planting hole.
  4. Water the blueberry bush thoroughly before planting. The so-called immersion method has proven itself well. Place the blueberry plant with the pot in a container filled with water and immerse the root ball until no more air bubbles rise. This will ensure that the root ball is completely wet.
  5. Remove the pot, loosen the root ball slightly with your hands and place the blueberry in the center of the planting hole. Make sure that the edge of the root ball is approx. 5 cm above ground level. Planting too deep is not ideal for blueberries.
  6. Scatter Kölle Bio Root Power in the planting hole. The organic natural fertilizer promotes root formation due to the mycorrhizal fungus cultures it contains. Root formation is sustainably improved and soil activity is increased.
  7. Fill the space between the root ball and the planting hole with bog soil.
  8. Kick the soil firmly with your foot so that the root balls get good contact with the ground. Make sure the blueberry bush is straight.

Finally, the blueberry is poured with 5 to 10 liters of water and covered thinly with mulch. Gardener tip: A layer of mulch reduces evaporation, suppresses weed growth and improves soil life.

Planting blueberries in a bucket — step-by-step instructions:

    1. Choose a vessel that has a water drainage hole and has a capacity of at least 20 liters.
    2. Put a drainage layer on the bottom of the pot. Expanded clay is ideal for this.
    3. Then put a layer of pot fleece in the container as a separating layer between the drainage and the potting soil.
    4. Water the blueberry plant thoroughly.
    5. Fill some rhododendron soil on the pot fleece.
    6. Place the potted blueberry bush in the center of the container and fill the space between the root ball and the pot with special soil.
    7. Press the soil lightly so that no voids are left.

Water thoroughly through the blueberry plant. Gardening tip: Make sure that blueberries in the bucket are never waterlogged. Standing water should be avoided. When waterlogged, the blueberry plant quickly suffers and becomes chlorotic.

How do I care for my blueberries?

In addition to the optimal soil conditions, the sunny spot and the even water supply, Vaccinium are robust garden plants that thrive without much care. Start fertilizing in the spring before they sprout. A berry fertilizer or rhododendron fertilizer is ideal for this.

The second time fertilize at the beginning of July, but make sure that the fertilization is not later than the end of July. Nutrients that are too late lead to soft shoots that are not mature and are therefore susceptible to frost.

In autumn you can spread a 2 to 3 cm layer of bark mulch on the ground to protect the roots. Further winter protection is not necessary for the blueberry bush planted in the bed. All products related to fertilizing blueberries can be found in our range.
Our gardening tip: Only remove existing weeds by hand or carefully with a hoe. The fruit bushes have shallow roots and are therefore sensitive to excessive hoeing. With the use of mulch film, weeds can be suppressed and evaporation can be minimized.

How do I water my blueberries correctly?

Blueberries need consistent soil moisture for growth and good fruit set. In the first few weeks after planting, it is important that you water as needed. This means that enough water is needed for the shrub to establish itself in the new location and form new roots, but there must never be standing water. How often you need to water depends on rainfall, temperatures, and soil conditions. In the second year, the plant still needs an even soil moisture, but the care is less intensive.

Our gardening tip: Especially in the period between flowering and harvesting, it is important that the soil does not dry out too much. Use rainwater with as little lime as possible for watering.

How can I cut my blueberries?

In the first few years after planting, you can do without any cutting measures, because the growth is initially quite low. Cutting blueberries is not worth it here. After 4 to 5 years, you should perform a rejuvenation pruning in early spring. Cut off the older shoots directly on the ground. Leave young shoots on the plant, because fruit set takes place on the one-year-old side shoots. An annual cut is not necessary, older plants will thank you with the formation of new shoots and a rich harvest. Cutting blueberries is easy to use.

What types of blueberries are there?

At the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of blueberry varieties were created through selection and special breeding. Particular attention was paid to large, tasty fruits, reliable fruit set, vigorous plants and frost tolerance: the best prerequisites for growing delicious fruit in your own garden. The ancestors of today’s garden plants come from North America and are offered as so-called Northern Highbush varieties. The different varieties vary with a different ripening time, fruit size and growth height.

It is optimal if you plant different varieties, so a harvest from the end of June to the beginning of September is possible and the yield is increased by cross-pollination. It can be harvested over a long period of time, because the blue berries ripen gradually, the harvest is highest in mid-July. Experts test the best varieties and select them based on taste, yield, berry size, frost tolerance and growth. In recent years, more and more varieties have emerged. In addition to the typical blue fruit, the berries are also available in pink. This novelty is extremely decorative, grows upright and bushy and is also suitable for growing in tubs. With the pink fruitsand the sweet taste, this variety is a rarity for the balcony and garden.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about blueberries

How are blueberries propagated?

In their natural habitat, forest blueberries usually reproduce by seeds and root suckers. Both are rarely the case with cultivated blueberries. Here there is the possibility of gaining new plants from cuttings.

Do blueberry plants always have to be kept in pairs?

Blueberries are self-fertile, meaning their own pollen is suitable for fertilization. In the case of cross-pollination, the yield increases. A second variety is therefore recommended.

What distinguishes the wild varieties from the cultivated form of the blueberry?

The wild forms (Vaccinium myrtillus) have significantly smaller berries and are more squat than the cultivated varieties. In addition, the taste is more intense and the flesh is much darker, which causes the mouth and fingers to turn blue when eaten. Wild blueberries are more difficult to harvest than the large-fruited varieties in the home garden.

Why are blueberries interesting plants for the balcony?

In addition to harvesting the delicious fruits, the shrub is decorative and harmonious in growth. With an enchanting autumn color, blueberries are beautiful to look at from the time they bud in spring until well into autumn, and the good taste of the blue berries is a hit with people big and small.

What happens when blueberries are planted in regular potting soil?

As a bog plant, the shrub suffers after a few months because the pH value in the potting soil is too high. The plant takes care, gets yellow leaves, growth and fruit setting are low. The same happens when planting in the garden without preparing the soil. Therefore, a sack of rhododendron soil is part of the purchase of a blueberry. It is also important to fertilize the moor bed plant with a special fertilizer. Even watering with calcareous tap water is not optimal, rainwater is better.

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