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Blueberries: How to grow the best blueberries

  • How to grow blueberries in the ground or in pots
  • How to keep them productive
  • How to prune blueberries
  • Choose a good variety. Our Best Buy blueberries are a good starting point.
  • Unless you have naturally acid soil, it’s a lot of effort growing blueberries in the ground. You could create a raised bed and replace the soil with ericaceous compost.

Grow blueberries in a container

Blueberry plant

Blueberries make good container plants

  • For most people it’s easier to grow blueberries in a container filled with ericaceous compost (anything recommended for rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas will suit blueberries, too).
  • Blueberries make good patio plants, with autumn colour, flowers and fruit. They’ll tolerate some shade, too.
  • When you buy a plant in a small pot, don’t put it into a large container straight away unless the roots have already filled the pot.
  • As it grows and the roots fill the pot each year, repot it into a slightly larger container, adding fresh ericaceous compost around the edges
  • Feed with an ericaceous fertiliser and water with rainwater. This is easier said than done in a dry summer, but you could set aside a water butt just for your blueberries.
  • Keep the compost moist, but not waterlogged.

How to harvest blueberries

  • Blueberries are self-fertile so you only need one plant, although having more than one will improve the amount of fruit that sets.
  • When fully ripe the berries develop a bloom. Immature fruit are sharper tasting, which you might prefer for cooking; if you prefer eating them fresh, they become sweeter the longer they're left.
  • Once you get your eye in, leave them until they're at the perfect stage for your needs.
  • Blueberries keep for weeks once picked, so you can store them in the fridge until you have a decent amount. They also freeze well if you're lucky enough to have a surplus.
  • The main pest is the blackbird and other fruit-eating birds. You will have to be fastidious in covering your plants with netting to defeat them.

How to prune blueberries

Pruning

Prune out a third of the older branches each year

  • Pruning is fairly straightforward. In the first couple of years, simply shorten any wayward shoots and aim for a neat, open-centred bush.
  • Thereafter, prune a third of the oldest branches to their base in late winter to give a balance of one-, two- and three-year-old wood. Blueberries fruit on shoots formed on year-old branches
  • Blueberries are not fully hardy. Wrap the pots or pull them under cover in severe winters.
  • Cover the blossom with fleece if hard frosts are predicted.

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