Blueberries are great in pancakes, muffins and pies. But did you know that they also go great in landscapes? If you have the right kind of soil – or if you’re willing to amend your soil properly – blueberries can thrive in your landscape.
And while the berries the plants produce each year will certainly be a bonus, blueberry bushes are excellent ornamental plants for landscapes, even discounting the wonderful fruit they’ll produce.
In the springtime the bushes are loaded with a beautiful display of pinkish-white, delicate bell-shaped blossoms. In the summertime, the bright emerald-green foliage provides a perfect backdrop to the colorful berries in multi-hued stages of ripening: green, pink and purple-blue. And fall sets the foliage aflame with a bright crimson hue.
Blueberries Are Finicky…
In the right kind of soil, blueberry plants are extremely hardy, durable and long-lived. Blueberry plants can live and be productive for well over half a century, and they’re very resistant to pests and diseases. Because of their hardiness, in fact, blueberries are well suited to growing with organic methods.
But blueberry plants will only do well in the right type of soil. They need an acidic soil, with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 5.5. Blueberry plants will not thrive in soil that falls outside of that range, and may not even survive. So if your soil doesn’t naturally fall within the recommended pH range, you’ll need to modify it by adding lots of acidic organic matter such as peat moss or pine bark. And you’ll want to use acidic fertilizers, too, such as blood meal and cottonseed meal.
If your soil falls far out of the desired pH range for blueberries, it might be difficult to modify it sufficiently to provide a healthy home for blueberries. In that case, you might consider growing your plants in containers. Blueberries can do well for many years growing in large containers. The containers themselves can serve as an attractive landscape feature, or they can be sunk into the ground so that the top of the container is at ground level. The containers should be at least 18″ in diameter.
Blueberries will be most productive in full sun. They’ll handle some shade – up to 50%. But if you want maximum fruit production, be sure to locate your plants where they’ll get as much sunlight as possible.
Be Careful About the Plants You Choose
Blueberries are native to North America, and grow naturally over a huge geographic range. But there are a number of different varieties, each more suited to a particular geographic area than others. If you’re considering planting blueberries in your landscape, it would be wise to consult with the nearest extension office to find out which varieties are most suited for your area.
For maximum fruit production, you’ll want to plant more than one variety. Cross-pollination between varieties will help produce bigger yields of fruit. And since different varieties ripen at different times, by growing a mix of varieties you can lengthen the harvest season.
Blueberries Don’t Just Look Good…
They’re also very good for you. In fact, blueberries are now recognized as packing a more powerful antioxidant punch that just about any other type of fruit. That means that eating blueberries is more than a taste-treat, it’s also a really healthy move. The rich blend of antioxidants contained in blueberries is cancer-fighting, anti-aging, eye-health-promoting good for you.
And the fact that you harvested those berries right from your own landscape? Well, that just makes them all the sweeter.