Everyone loves blueberries – fresh, in pancakes and muffins, or baked into pies. But for the best quality, sweetness and flavor, blueberries are best picked after ripening fully on the bush. You can only do that if you grow your own, and the good news is that blueberries are easy to grow, and a few bushes give a big harvest. Even better, nothing is wasted because you simply put extra berries straight into the freezer and use them when you need them. Fully-ripened berries have the most vitamins, and the powerful anti-oxidants that make them such a healthy choice. The Powder Blue Blueberry tells you when it is fully ripe, by developing a white, dusty powder on its ripe berries. Picking them when they are perfect is suddenly easy.
It is important to grow the right varieties for your area to have those big harvests. In areas with long hot summers, the native rabbiteye type of blueberry is the right choice. Although they grow wild through the south, the best berries come from varieties grown for gardens, and the Powder Blue Blueberry is a top-pick variety. If you live in Virginia and further south, and over into Texas and Arkansas, then grow this variety for the best results. Wild plants have thick skins and many seeds, so breeders have developed superior varieties for gardens and farms. These are always the best choice for top-quality results (another popular variety is the Emerald Blueberry Bush).
Growing Powder Blue Blueberry Bushes
Blueberries are a top choice berry both for health and flavor, but they are hand-picked, so they are always expensive at the grocery store, even though they must be picked half-ripe, so they can be shipped and kept in the stores. Instead, grow your own and enjoy big harvests that are perfect for eating fresh, adding to pancakes and muffins, baking into pies, or turning into preserves. This is one fruit that is never wasted, no matter how many you pick. Just put them into a bag without washing them and put them straight into the freezer. They keep for months, so you always have your own blueberries around, even in winter. Put them still frozen straight into your pancake mix, and they won’t turn the batter purple.
The first step in growing your own blueberries is to check your soil for its acid/lime balance. If the pH of your soil is between 4.0 and 6.0, then you can grow blueberries. If it is higher, then you can still grow them, simply by using large planters and boxes. In containers you should plant them into a soil specified for acid-loving plants and use acid fertilizers too. Trying to change the pH of soil is very difficult, and usually not successful, so boxes are the easy solution. If you have hard water, use rainwater for your plants as much as possible. Berries you can grow in lime soils include blackberries and raspberries, and these are easy to grow too.
Planting and Initial Care
Blueberries grow best in full sun or light shade, and the soil should be moist, but well-drained. If it is always wet, make raised beds, or plant on low mounds of soil. Keep plants growing in the ground and in containers well-watered, especially during the summer months. After planting, and each spring, mulch your bushes with a thick layer (4-6 inches deep) of materials like peat moss, pine bark, pine needles, leaves or grass clippings. Avoid manures and composts, which usually contain lime, as thisis harmful to these plants.
Long-Term Care and Maintenance
Once your plants are a few years old, you can start pruning them for the biggest crops, and to keep them low enough to easily pick the berries. Prune in late winter and remove stems that are more than 3 years old, or that you have seen are not producing many berries. Keep the younger branches that shoot up from the base of the plant, and if there are a lot of these, remove the weakest ones to keep the plants from becoming too crowded. This simple job is all the regular care blueberries need, and they rarely have pests or diseases.
Hardiness and Climate
The Rabbiteye Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) grows wild across the southeast United States, growing naturally from Texas to North Carolina and all the way south into Florida. They grow best in zones 7, 8 and 9, because they don’t need long winters to ripen the flower buds, and they are not affected by hot summer weather. In spring you will see clusters of white flowers, like hanging bells. For the biggest crop, grow another rabbiteye variety nearby, and we recommend the Brightwell Blueberry, a top-quality plant that also carries a heavy crop of delicious berries.
You can also grow blueberry bushes among your ornamental shrubs, and the Powder Blue Blueberry has the bonus of fabulous fall coloring. As cooler weather arrives the leaves turn gold, red and orange, making a beautiful show in the garden. This variety has been carefully selected and bred for superior quality and taste. It can only be reproduced from stem pieces, so avoid cheaper seedling plants that are not a named variety – they will only disappoint. Blueberries are hugely popular fruit bushes because they are so easy to grow, and our stock of this highly sought-after variety will soon be gone. Order now while we still have supplies available.