The content of this article ‘Growing blueberries in the home garden’ was prepared by The University of Minnesota Extension and has been revised and republished by FreshFruitPortal.com.
For the latest information, check the University of Minnesota’s website here.
Blueberry plants grow slowly, and they may not seem to get much bigger from year to year. It takes a blueberry bush about 10 years to reach mature size, but this also means they will live a long, long time.
Blueberry leaves turn stunning shades of crimson and orange in autumn.
It will be 2 or 3 years before you start getting large harvests, but it is definitely worth the wait. The bushes are very attractive and will be a beautiful addition to your yard while you wait for fruit.
Care through the seasons
- March—Prune bushes before new growth begins after coldest weather has passed.
- April, May—Plant new blueberry bushes.
- May, June—Apply mulch for the growing season.
- July through September—Apply soil amendments.
- September, October—Apply mulch for winter protection and enjoy fall color.
- November, December—Put fencing around plants to keep out rabbits.
Preparing to plant
Blueberry plants require acidic soil (pH 4.0 to 5.0) that is well-drained, loose and high in organic matter. Most garden soils in Minnesota have higher pH and must be amended.
If pH is too high:
- The growth of the plant is slowed.
- Leaves discolor.
- Plants may die.
Blueberry plants are widely available at local and online nurseries. Be certain the plants you buy are winter hardy to your USDA zone (zone 3 or 4 in Minnesota).
If buying plants locally, find potted plants that are at least two or three years old.
Caring for blueberry plants before planting
If buying plants online, most likely they will arrive dormant and bare root. Order early to get the best selection.
Most nurseries ship bare-root plants at the appropriate time for planting in early spring. Keep dormant plants in a dark, cool, moist place until you’re ready to plant.
Make sure the roots stay moist but not saturated and plant as soon as possible. Soak roots in a bucket of water for a couple of hours before planting.
If you buy plants at a local nursery, keep potted plants well-watered in a sunny location until planting and plant as soon as possible.
‘St. Cloud’ blueberry variety
Blueberries grow best in full sun. Plants will tolerate partial shade, but too much shade causes plants to produce fewer blossoms and less fruit.
Insects and wildlife cause minimal damage to blueberries. Because of the acidic soil requirements of blueberries, you are much more likely to have nutritional issues than pest issues.