Cultivating blueberries in your home garden is a very rewarding experience. From learning and understanding the intricacy on how to plant them, to harvesting and enjoying the fruits of your labor, blueberries will definitely keep you busy and on your toes.
There are many different varieties of blueberries available to plant. It all depends on the climate and region that you live in, but the best results can be obtained by having at least 2 varieties of blueberries in your garden. This will allow you a longer harvest season as well as a higher quality yield as studies have shown that cross-pollination from two varieties product berries that are larger in size and quantity. Blueberry season can start as early as June, and can last all season with a little bit of effort placed in planning. The three main type of blueberries are:
High bush blueberries grow quite tall and can go as tall as 6 feet. These are hardy varieties that can survive well in zone 4 to 11 regions.
Half-high blueberries are hybrids of highbush and lowbush blueberry varieties, and are hardier than highbush blueberries, but do not grow as tall as the later. They grow well in zone 3 areas.
Lowbush blueberry varieties do not normally grow taller than 1.5 feet high. They grow out over the ground and survive well in colder climates.
How to Select Your Blueberry Bush
- First step to selecting your blueberry bush is knowing the climate zone in the area that you live in. Cultivating a blueberry bush that\’s not right for your climate zone will only lead to disappointment. They will not thrive at all (and if even if they survive they may not give you the yield you desire).
- You will then need to buy plants that are free from pests and diseases. Check the plants and consult the nursery to make sure that the plants you\’re purchasing are healthy, free of pests, spots and diseases. Avoid purchasing blueberry bushes that look drought-stressed as these will not survive well.
- Buy bushes that are the right age for initial cultivation. Blueberry bushes that are too young will take years to ripen and produce blueberries. Those that are too old may be prone to disease and blight. The best age to purchase is about 2 to 3 years old.
- When purchasing your plant, you will be given a choice of buying container blueberry bushes or bare root ALWAYS opt for the container blueberry bushes as the later will take time (sometimes too long a time) for them to reach the right stage to ripen and bear fruit.
Note: While you can extract blueberry seeds to plant your own bushes, it may take quite some time before you can actually enjoy a harvest because the blueberry bushes will take years to mature.
- Always remember to plant a minimum of two varieties of blueberry bushes to enjoy a consistent supply of delicious, nutritious blueberries throughout the growing season.
Tip: The trick of the trade is to buy three varieties, namely early, mid-blooming and late blooming varieties that will provide you with all year round harvest.
Early season blueberry bush varieties include Earliblue which require very early cropping variety (mid July) and are vigorous stout bush that grow to about 2 m high. They produce large light blue berries. Earliblue are not very hardy and will require winter protection. Another Early season variety is the Bluetta which are medium light blue berries that grow on fairly vigorous compact bush and are hardier than Earliblue.
Mid/late season blueberry bush examples include Bluecrop which is one of the main variety grown worldwide. These are vigorous and very productive and produce large light blue berries with very good flavor. They are easy to grow but avoid planting them in frostpockets. Chandler is another mid/late season variety that produces the largest blueberry in term of yield and size and are tolerant of long winters (as long as temperature are not extremely cold). They produce very good flavor berries produced for six weeks between mid and late season.
- Make sure that you buy enough blueberry bushes for your home garden to ensure adequate cross-pollination.
Note: When purchasing the blueberry bushes for your garden, always deal with reputable professional growers who sell hardy, healthy bushes that are guaranteed to be parasite and fungus-free. Varieties that come from cuttings are more susceptible to diseases than tissue culture as they aren\’t nearly as hardy. When possible, buy a tissue-cultivated blueberry bush that are three years old and have been established well in a gallon can.
Once you\’ve taken the necessary steps to find out about the different variety of blueberry suitable for your home garden, decide on which type you prefer. Then work on preparing your site for planting as well as what you will do to protect your blueberries from pests and diseases. Also make sure that you take adequate steps to maintain a good garden so that you will be rewarded with a good harvest.
Growing Blueberries: Tips on How to Grow Blueberries:
Growing Blueberries: http://www.farminfo.org/orchard/blueberry.htm
Hints on Growing Blueberries: http://www.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/e-2066.htm
Spacing Plants and Root Systems:
How to select the correct blueberries for your zone:
Blueberry Cultivation: Pollination and Cross-Pollination:
Blueberry Varieties: The Best Type For Your Climate: