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Home & garden.

Updated: 29 Apr 2022

How to grow blueberries and best varieties

Blueberries can be grown in the ground or in a pot on the patio. Discover our tried-and-tested blueberry varieties and tips for how to grow them
Ceri Thomas
Blueberries

Blueberries are a very popular soft fruit to grow, and not just for the health benefits. The tasty fruit is delicious fresh from the bush, in smoothies, muffins and pancakes. Originally from the United States, they’re on the tender side in the UK but can be grown outside with a bit of protection in cold weather. As an extra benefit, several varieties also have beautiful autumn leaf colour. They need an acid soil but can be grown in ericaceous compost in a pot if this is problem, making attractive patio plants.

The experts at Which? Gardening magazine grew and tasted 11 different varieties to find you the best ones to plant.


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How to grow blueberries: month by month

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Best blueberry varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? for instant access.

Full testing results for blueberries

Variety Overall rating
Height x spread (cm) Average harvest (g) Yield Quality of berries Vigour Autumn leaf colour Taste 
90 x 55589
65 x 75484
55 x 50435
60 x 55227
90 x 75214
80 x 510271
100 x 100265

USING THE TABLE The more stars the better. OVERALL SCORE The more stars the better. Rating is based on: yield 50%; quality of berries 15%; vigour 15%; autumn colour 10%; taste 10%.

How we test blueberries

The Which? Gardening magazine experts bought 11 varieties of blueberries. The plants were potted into 6L pots using ericaceous compost, and we added a controlled-release fertiliser designed for acid-loving plants. The plants were left outside on a trickle-irrigation system during the summer and brought in during the winter months to prevent the pots from freezing. Although blueberries can withstand quite low temperatures, they’re more prone to damage from the cold if they’re grown in containers, and they need protection from very low temperatures and freezing conditions. In spring, any plants that had outgrown their pots were repotted and all the plants were fed. In the late summer, the plants were covered in netting to prevent birds stealing the ripening berries. The harvest was recorded and the berries tasted. In the autumn, an assessment was made of any autumn colour the plants developed.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Plant in a moist, well-drained, acid soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower.

If planting in pots, use ericaceous compost and add a controlled-release feed suitable for acid-loving plants. Choose a container that's at least 6L for young plants, then move into 10-12L pots as they grow.

Blueberries like a sunny and sheltered spot, so they're ideal for growing on patios.

Keep the soil around your plants moist, watering with rainwater if possible.

If you’re planting your blueberries in the ground, they may not need a specific feed. You can apply a mulch of well-rotted leaf mould or composted conifer clippings. Conifer clippings have the added benefit of helping to acidify the soil.

Pruning

Your plants should not need pruning in the first two years. Prune older plants from late February to early March, removing around a quarter of the old wood at the base every year. 

Protecting from cold

Blueberries are on the tender side, so it’s a good idea to wrap pots in bubble wrap for winter and bring them inside if the forecast is particularly bad. Flower buds are also susceptible to frost, so cover them with fleece if frost is forecast during this period.

How and when to harvest

July to August

Protect your berries from birds by covering the fruit with netting as it starts to ripen. Harvest them when they turn a dusty-blue colour. You may need to pick over your bushes several times, as they don’t all ripen at once.

Common growing problems

Powdery mildew

In dry spells, blueberries can suffer from powdery mildew, which is a white coating on the leaves. Keep the roots moist and use an ericaceous mulch, such as conifer clippings, to help the soil retain moisture.

Read more about powdery mildew.

Yellowing leaves

If your soil has a pH higher than 5.5, the plants may have yellowing leaves due to a lack of iron. Treat with chelated iron (a water-soluble form of iron).

Vine weevil

Pot-grown plants can suffer from vine weevil. Check for white, C-shaped grubs around the roots. Repot using fresh compost or treat with biological control.

Read more about vine weevil.