cluster of blueberries on a plant
Organic Gardening

How to Grow Blueberry Bushes

Learn how to grow blueberries with these basic care tips from how to plant your blueberry bushes, how to choose healthy plants, soil and light requirements, how to prune and harvest, and pest and diseases to look out for.

This post is all about how to grow blueberry bushes.

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Blueberries held in a cloth and held in hands
Homegrown Fruit – How to grow blueberries

Backyard Blueberries: How to Grow Your Very Own Blueberry Bushes

Be sure to check out Part 1 of this 2-part series that discusses blueberry bush varieties. It’ll point you in the right direction as to what variety is right for your area and garden!

Planting at the correct time of the year is important to ensure the success of the bush.  Blueberry bushes should be planted in April and May. Depending on the maturity of the plant, you may or may not get a harvest as explained above. 

Cluster of Blueberries on a Blueberry Bush
Cluster of Blueberries

Choosing Healthy Plants – How and Where to Plant Blueberries

You can buy blueberry bushes in lots of nurseries as they are widely available. Look for nurseries that guarantee their quality. I try to avoid big box stores as much as possible. One reason is because I like to support small businesses. The other reason is they usually have a better selection of plants. I prefer to go somewhere that knows the ins and outs of plants. Although you may find a knowledgeable person at a big box store, you’re more likely to find one at a nursery. Look for plants that are certified disease free. Carefully check over the plant to make sure it looks healthy.  You’re better off buying a plant that’s a couple of years old because they have a higher survivability rate than younger plants. Check the roots to make sure they’re in good shape.

When you’re ready to plant, soak the roots for about two hours before planting. Dig a hole that will allow you to put soil at the same level as the soil around the root ball. Firmly press the soil down after adding the soil back into the hole after planting. 

Soil Requirements

Blueberry bushes need full sun with well-draining soil. Avoid heavy, clay soil that doesn’t allow proper draining. Blueberry bushes don’t like sitting in wet soil that doesn’t drain well.

They like acidic soil (pH 4.0 to 5.0) that is high in organic material. If the pH is too high though the plant’s growth may slow down, leaves become discolored, and the plant may even die. To raise the pH level of the soil, add lime. To lower the pH level, add sulfur to it.

Light Requirements

Most plants that produce fruit need a lot of sunlight. Although blueberries can produce fruit in some shade, you’ll have a better harvest if it’s in a spot with full sun. Select a spot in full sun and avoid shade from trees. The trees will compete for nutrients, water, and disrupt air flow. If you’re planting more than one blueberry bush, which you should be, plant them 3 feet apart. Use an acidic mulch around the plants, like pine chip mulch.

Plant more than one Blueberry Bush

Although blueberry bushes are self-pollinating to a point, to grow large fruit it’s best to plant two different varieties for cross-pollination.

Clump of blueberries on a bush
Clump of Blueberries on a Bush

Blueberry Plant Care

It’s important to prune, fertilize, and watch out for pests and diseases to have healthy plants. Here are some more tips for keeping them robust.


If you just planted a blueberry bush, don’t fertilize at the time of planting. Wait one month before applying the fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer on a yearly basis in the spring. I use an all natural fertilizer by Down to Earth. It contains potash, phosphate, calcium, magnesium,  sulfur, and humic acids. It can also be used on raspberries, azaleas, hydrangeas, and other plants.

Pest and Disease Management

Be on the look out for the following pests:

  • Birds
  • Japanese beetles
  • Spotted wing drosophila
  • Parasitic nematodes
  • Flea beetle
  • Thrips
  • Aphids
  • Blueberry tip borer
  •  Scale 
  • Sharp-nosed leafhopper
  •  White marked tussock moth 
  • Gypsy moth
  •  Blueberry gall midge
  •  Blueberry stem gall wasp

What diseases to look out for:

  • Cankers
  • Crown gall
  • Armillaria root rot 
  • Alternaria Fruit Rot
  • Botrytis blight
  • Mummy berry
  • Silver Leaf
  • Powdery Mildew 
  • Fusicoccum Canker
  • Witches Broom
  • Anthracnose (ripe rot)
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch
  • Leaf spot diseases 
  • Leaf Rust
  • Stem canker and Stem Blight
  • Twig Canker and Twig Blight 
  • Phytophthora Root Rot


After you’ve planted your blueberry bush(es), remove any broken, dead, or dying branches. Pruning should then be done on a yearly basis in late winter or early spring before any growth starts. I would personally wait until the weather warms up and prune in the spring. The key is before any new growth. Pruning after growth has begun can inhibit production and ultimately your harvest. Remove any old stems that no longer produce fruit. Old stems should be cut down to ground level. This will allow the bush to focus on newer stems and producing fruit. Maintain about 4-6 healthy stems, and allow a couple of new stems to grow.

Clump of Blueberries ready to pick
Blueberries Ready to Pick


It’s time to start picking your blueberries once they’re a nice shade of blue. Blueberries will turn from a shade of green (unripe) to deep blue (rip). There are some varieties of blueberries that obviously will not be blue, like pink lemonade blueberries. The fruit should be ready to be easily plucked off.

For younger plants, wait at least two years until you start harvesting fruit. Any young plants that produce flowers should have the flowers plucked off. This is so the plant is able to establish itself and have a nice, healthy start.

This post was all about how to grow blueberry bushes.

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