How to Grow Organic Blueberries

Organic blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow and are a great addition to a healthy diet.
Organic blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow and are a great addition to a healthy diet. | Source

Growing Blueberries


One of the most easy-to-grow fruits or vegetables is the blueberry. Even better news is that you can pretty much grow them anywhere.

Blueberries are hardy in zones 2 through 8 but every locale usually has their own strain of blueberry that will grow best there.

The best place to check for blueberry plants or purchase them is your local nursery. Stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, or even grocery stores like Fred Meyer sell them as well.

That said, make sure if you purchase from one of the above stores (not a nursery) that you ask or check to be sure where the blueberry bushes are from.

For instance, we live in Central Oregon but many stores in the area receive their plant shipments from Portland, which is on the west side of the mountains. Plants that grow there are not necessarily indigenous to this region and can't tolerate the hard freezes we get. I've lost many a plant only to discover that they were hardy to Portland's weather, not mine.

On the other hand, when I've purchased plants from local nurseries, the plants have come through the winters flawlessly--because they were the right plants for this area.

Starting out with the right blueberry bushes will ensure you an easy time of growing organic fruit for years to come.

Because blueberries are so easy to grow and so resistant to the elements and disease, they are a perfect choice for organic gardening. They require no pesticides and are one of the best organic fruits to grow with the least amount of fuss.

How Hard is it To Grow Blueberries?


Most everyone can have a green thumb when it comes to growing blueberries. They require little work and if tended properly, they will continue to provide fruit year after year.

There are some things you should know though about growing your own organic blueberries:

  • They grow best in full sun
  • You need at least 2 different varieties if you want them to be prolific and have abundant berries--so 1 bush of "Top Hat" variety and 1 bush of "Jersey"--whatever specific types are best for your area
  • Plant within a reasonable distance from each other so that they can cross pollinate--for instance within the same backyard and not an acre apart
  • Blueberries come in several different heights so make sure you know which type of bush you'll want to plant (more on that below)
  • You can plant blueberries in fall or spring
  • They require very acidic soil--that is their only unusual requirement--adding things like pine needles or coffee grounds around the plant or within the planting area (not touching the roots) can help feed the soil
  • They require very little fertilizing--maybe once per year in the spring
  • Blueberries are pretty plants that have small flowers before they bloom and in fall, some varieties sport red canes making a pretty addition to a dull garden
  • Usually pest-free, the only threat to blueberry plants and harvesting is winged--birds love blueberries and oftentimes netting will need to be used in order to have some to enjoy
  • Use good organic compost material when planting them--in the hole and around the top of the plant and keep them supplied throughout the year with more, adding in the acidic components as well
  • Water well when planting, in fact, soak to encourage the root system to take hold; keep adequately moist for several days after planting and then make sure the plants never dry out. In Central Oregon, that means watering in warm parts of the fall and winter to assure that they do not dry out and break
  • Pruning is relatively simple and usually can go every 2 years though it depends on the variety--removing old canes or pruning in spring just to where new branches are coming on
  • No pesticides are required and blueberries are not prone to any kinds of diseases though they may drop their leaves naturally when done blooming
  • Use organic fertilizers because they stay in the soil longer--see the great YouTube video below

Source

Growing Blueberries in Containers


You can also grow blueberries in containers. Select a dwarf or a low bush variety.

A major consideration with this planting method is the weather.

If you get hard frosts, it's best to plant blueberries in the ground. This is because containers contract and expand with the freeze-thaw-freeze process and any plant in containers runs the risk of breaking and dying.

It's also very hard to control the amount of water and dryness in the summertime. Gardening in containers is always a delicate balance of keeping the soil from drying out or being overwatered.

Four Types of Blueberry Plants


Highbush
These are as the name suggests--very tall. They can grow 6 to 8 feet tall and produce the kinds of blueberries you see most often in the market.

Some popular varieties:

  • Bluecrop
  • Jersey
  • Patriot
  • Cape Fear
  • Gulfcoast
  • Blue Ridge

Lowbush
These super hardy berries like subzero temperatures. They only grow 6 to 18 inches high and spread through underground runners. They are not as cultivated as high bush blueberries so every nursery may have local starts that grow indigenous to that area. These produce small, sweet berries.

Some varieties to choose from:

  • Top Hat
  • Cumberland
  • Fundy

Half-High
This is a mixture of the high bush blueberry and the low bush variety. The berries are large like the high bush varieties but are more cold resistant, like the low bush varieties. They consequently don't grow as tall (about half the size) as the high bush. They also don't spread by underground runners (like the low bush).

Some great varieties to try:

  • Polaris
  • Northland
  • Friendship
  • North Blue

Rabbiteye
This is a variety mostly grown in the south in zones 7 to 9. These are also typically smaller than high bush varieties but they also ripen later in the season than the other kinds. These plants can actually top out at 10 or so feet tall and they also cross pollinate each other well. These plants also don't care much about the kind of soil they're planted in, making them a super choice for the gardener with a brown thumb.

Some varieties to pick from:

  • Climax
  • Bonita
  • Tifblue
  • Premier

For a real treat, try the pink lemonade blueberry--instead of blue, it's actually deep pink.


Have you ever grown blueberries before?

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Comments 13 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Kristy - I actually have had a brown thumb myself--not black but very brown...but the weather here - though the most god awful short growing season---really has helped me be a success~ I'm hoping my 2 planted do very well next year! If of course I can keep them away from my Satan dog Gabby~~~~


kissayer profile image

kissayer 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

I would love to grow blueberries - but I think I'd eat them so fast I'd kill the plant! Plus I have a major black thumb :P

Fabulous hub, as always!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Full of Love Sites - thanks for stopping by~


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

great hub and great writing. Extensive research and good tips. keep them coming.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

That sounds wonderful- I agree- those memories are priceless!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Oh - I guess you're right...Gabby the helper~ She is always helping me to do (or undo) something lately~~ I should do a hub on Gabby decorating 101--how to redo a bedroom ala Gabby chic....my curtains are chewed off, our bedskirt is half gone---and I won't go to my homemade decorative pillows (sigh) and every blanket on our bed! I have to say though...at least she's consistent--it's all done in a similar scalloped pattern so when I go to the seamstress and have her redo the curtains (the only things salvagable), she'll be able to hopefully save them...I have never had a dog that ate everything in site--well Griff and food - we won't even go there--but every breathing, living, non-breathing, non-living thing...she gets it and must sample! I was worried as I read somewhere that blueberry bushes are like rhodies and can be toxic to dogs - but since she just broke off a huge branch....she didn't actually have time to eat it before I descended on her with my wrath of MOM~

One summer, we went and picked blueberries with our kids - they were free in the Tacoma/Seattle area and the bushes were gigantic - I had no idea they grew that tall - and you're right...some of them actually made it home and to the freezer but we had to keep going back~ We always picked raspberries and strawberries too in the Tacoma area with our kids---they still grouse about it but it was a lot of fun--especially all the delicious things I made with the berries...and blackberries - oh la la - all along the riverbanks and we'd pick for hours. I do miss the beautiful bounty of berries in Puyallup/Tacoma/Seattle.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

That explains why the prolific writing! I also didn't know about having two distinct varieties. Growing up, they were all over the woods, so I guess anything we planted in the yard had plenty to interact with. I miss them, so it'll be great to try again now.

Gabby's just trying to pick them the way we used to years ago. The biggest bushes required ladders, and the adults would break off entire limbs full of berries for the children to pick. Some of the berries even made it into our buckets!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Glad it helped~ Being in the apprentice "shop" at the moment, I am striving for 24 per month...and I got done a week before August ended so wrote these 6 up and now have to start over - but at least I'm 1/3 of the way there!!! Hooray for me.

On the blueberries, it makes sense as I've botched plant after plant for 7-1/2 or so years since moving here...I couldn't figure out why perfectly good plants were croaking and it ticks me off---so I finally asked at the nursery - oh duh~~~ The plants weren't that much more either - $12 for a nice, big plant! She also told me that if you don't have two DIFFERENT kinds, they will not do well at all because they have to cross pollinate - that went over my head but I just nodded like the old wise sage that I am and skipped away with my 2 DIFFERENT plants~ Only to have my Gabby monster bite off an entire BRANCH when I was cleaning the next morning and before Bob got them planted for me! Oh well...they are in the ground (safe from Gabby's big mouth) and doing well....fingers crossed for a great crop next summer---though I'll probably be fighting the birds since we live on a wetlands~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

I can't believe how many hubs you've written while I wasn't looking... but that aside, I love this one! We live in a great area for blueberries, but have always had bad luck with them. I never understood why until I read above where you said to buy locally... Monique has always ordered from seed/plant magazines. Most of their plants have done well- you should see our giant blackberry bush! Now I know why our Blueberries never took.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

I bet you can grow them anywhere~~~ I'd just check at a local nursery because from my take on it here in the high desert--you just need the right ones for your climate. The biggest concern is freezing not really heat~ as long as they be watered!!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I wonder if we can grow them in the low desert.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

It says somewhere...I know...lots of talk~ Spring or fall is a great time to plant - of course they would grow there as we live in high mountain desert (Oregon)....you just have to be sure you get the right variety for YOUR area---and I always suggest a nursery for stuff you want to hang around forever. I have bought plants at Home Depot or Lowe's which were beautiful plants but found out the hard way they came from the other side of the mountain---not good for freezes like we get....same is true for you I'm sure....Good luck--I just planted 2 this week!


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Did I miss something...WHen do you plant? Will they work in the high desert of Arizona? I love blueberries and would love to grow them.

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