How to Grow Blueberries

A basic guide on how to grow blueberries 
in your backyard.

Topics covered:
Growing conditions, soil requirements, planting, mulch, water, fertiliser, pruning and, the best bit, harvesting.

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Your Questions Answered

Blueberries ripen in bunches over a period of 6 to 8 weeks. You pick the biggest berries in each bunch and let the others ripen and size up.

The berries will turn blue before they are completely ripe. Don't be afraid to let the fruit hang on the bush to ripen fully - gaining flavour, sweetness and size.

This depends on variety and age of plant, but once mature (5 or 6 years old) you may get anywhere from 4 to 8 kilos.

Our blueberry plants are propagated from cuttings, so there are able to fruit straight away. BUT, we advise not letting them fruit for at least the first year by pruning off ends of canes or rubbing the flowers off with your fingers when they appear in Spring.

This let's the plant put its energy into getting established rather than producing fruit.

  • When you first purchase your plant it's important that you prune to about half in height when you plant out or pot up. This let's the plant put its energy into getting established and not producing fruit.
  • In the first couple of years of owning you plant, pruning to remove weak spindly growth is important each winter. This helps the bush gain shape and get established.
  • After these first couple of years, prune every winter keeping only the strong, vigorour canes and laterals. Keep the ones shooting from the bottom of the plant - these are canes not suckers.

HELPFUL TIP: Sterilise your secateurs before pruning and between plants. Use methylated spirits or boiling water.

Blueberries can be sensitive to excess fertiliser. Compost or animal manure (don’t use chook manure) added to the mulch several times throughout the growing season would be beneficial.

Seaweed and fish emulsion may also be used.

As an alternative, a slow release Azalea or Camellia plant food could also be applied.

Remember when fertilising, a little fertiliser often is better than one or two big doses.

For example -
Powerfeed
Seaweed Fertiliser
Worm Castings
Camellia Food

Blueberries are shallow rooted and don't like to dry out. During the growing and fruiting seasons, a good soak a few times a week is necessary.

Mulch is the best management practice you can employ for blueberries because the plants thrive on organic matter and the soil micro-organisms it supports.

Suitable mulch would be:

  • sawdust
  • pine bark
  • pine needles
  • oak leaves
  • straw
  • wood chip (we use this on our paddock rows)

Mulching helps to control weeds and retain soil moisture.

For example -
Wood Chip Mulch
Pine Bark Mulch
Sugar Cane Mulch

  1. Dig a hole with a mound in the centre.
  2. Remove the plant from the pot and tease the roots out thoroughly.
  3. Place the plant on the mound in the centre of the hole and arrange the plant roots to radiate out from the crown in a natural fashion (ie. like hair on a head). It is important the roots are not knotted or curled around the crown.
  4. Backfill with the soil/peat mixture and firm around the plant, then water in well. Watering in will settle the soil around the roots, which is essential for a healthy plant. Liquid kelp or seaweed added to the water will help overcome any transplant shock.

HELPFUL TIP: Half a bucket of peat moss (available from you local nursery) mixed with the soil in the planting hole will greatly assist plant establishment. For example - https://gardenworld.com.au/shop/potting-mix/growing-media/peat-moss-5l-bag/

Blueberry plants prefer a free draining, acid soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5) with high organic matter content.

Shallow or poor draining soils can be improved by the addition of organic matter and, if planting in the ground, creating a raised bed to assist with drainage.

Yes, some varieties of blueberries grow well in pots. A half wine barrel size at plant maturity is advisable.

An Azalea, or good quality, potting mix without a wetting agent is best if planting in a pot.

For example - https://gardenworld.com.au/shop/potting-mix/plant-type/camellia-azalea-gardenia-potting-mix/ 

Blueberries require protection from very strong winds.

Blueberries are related to Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Camellias so require similar growing conditions. To facilitate fruit ripening they require half a day to full day of sun.

It depends a bit on variety, but anywhere from 1.25m to 1.5m is optimal. If pushed for space, smaller varieties can still do well down to 1.0m.

Most of the plants we sell to home gardeners are two years old. We do also have advanced plants for sale, and if available, will be listed in the shop.

For quantities of 50 or more plants, please see the Commercial Grower or Nursery & Wholesale areas of our website. Please note that these plants are grown to order and are sent out during June, July and August every year.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live, the Gunaikurnai nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present. 
We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.
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