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Espoma’s Guide to Growing Organic Berries

Grow berries for more than just flavor! They’re filled with antioxidants and they’re good for your heart, body and brain. Plus, the plants look beautiful in the landscape.

Are you ready to plant a blueberry this year? Trust us, they are berry easy — even if you’ve heard otherwise. The trick is to pick the perfect berry for your conditions and to give it the right care.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Blueberries for Beginners

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Which Blueberry to Grow

Berry Good Advice for Gardeners

The Best Blueberries to Grow in Containers

The Best Tasting Blueberries

No Birds Allowed!

Fertilizing blueberry plants

How to grow raspberries

How to grow blackberries

How to grow strawberries

How to plant blueberries in containers

Grow delicious strawberries in your own garden

Berry recipes 

The Best Blueberries to Grow in Containers

Blueberries are nutritional powerhouses packed with high concentrations of antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Just one serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Growing blueberries maximizes small spaces and keeps fresh, nutritious fruit nearby. Even if space is limited, you can still grow blueberries at home. Some blueberry shrubs are the perfect fit for containers on the porch, patio or balcony.

Ought to Pot: The Best Blueberries for Container Gardening

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Pink Icing – With breathtaking spring and fall foliage and large, sweet berries mid-summer, this gem makes small spaces shine. Plus, these bushes are self-pollinating, so only one bush is needed to produce fruit.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 3’ H x 4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 500

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Large blueberries with sweet, robust flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Patriot Blueberry – The Patriot puts on a show each season – from striking white blooms in spring to warm, vivid foliage in fall. During summer, you’ll be busy munching on up to 20 pounds of blueberries!

Blueberry Type: Northern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 4-8’ H x 3-5’ W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800-1,000

Ripening Season: Early: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Large blueberries that taste classically sweet

Yield: High yield, 10-20 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Native
  • Cold-hearty
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Adapts to various soil types, including heavy or wet soil
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Peach Sorbet – Full of charm, these compact blueberry plants are four-season showstoppers with stunning leaves ranging from peach to pink to orange to emerald green. Spring’s white, bell-shaped flowers will give way to an abundant summer crop of healthy, sweet blueberries mid-summer.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1½’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 300

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries with a sweet, tropical essence

Yield: High yield

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Plants keep leaves through winter when the foliage transitions to a rich eggplant purple
Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Sunshine Blue Blueberry – These berries are even more nutritious than other blueberries because they’re high in Vitamin P. Another fun attribute of the Sunshine Blue is their hot-pink flowers in spring and blazing red leaves in fall!

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 3-4’ H x 3-4’ W

Zone: 5-10

Chill Hours: 150

Ripening Season: Mid-season: End of May-End of June

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries that taste opulent and sweet

Yield: Moderate yield, 5-10 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Tolerant of higher soil pH
  • Love the California sunshine and heat
  • Semi-evergreen

Northsky Blueberry – Meet the most cold-hardy blueberry out there. The Northsky can withstand temperatures of -45° and can even bear snow on its branches. In spring, the Northsky produces lots of sweet, white blooms that look absolutely darling.

Blueberry Type: Half-high

Light: Full sun

Size: 2-4 H x 2-3 W

Zone: 3-7

Chill Hours: 800+

Ripening Season: Mid-season: Mid-End of July

Taste and Size: Small, firm blueberries that taste fresh, wild and free

Yield: Small yield, up to 2 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Extremely cold-hardy
  • Works in the landscape or as a hedge
  • Elegant burgundy fall foliage
Brazelberries jelly bean, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

Bushel and Berry™ Jelly Bean – This blueberry is prolific – producing a bumper crop of large, flavorful blueberries mid-summer with a super sweet flavor like homemade blueberry jelly. Brilliant green new foliage emerges in spring which gives way to darker greens with red hues throughout the summer and fall.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 1’ H x 2’ W

Zone: 4-8

Chill Hours: 1,000+

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Medium to large blueberries with homemade jelly flavor

Yield: High yield, bumper crop

Features:

  • Works well in containers or in landscape
  • Likes acidic soil
  • Beautiful year-round foliage
  • Prune annually during winter dormancy

Looking for more options? To learn more about blueberries, the best tasting berries, how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

Growing Blueberries Is Easy With These 4 Tips

Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.

Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.

Health Benefits

Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.

These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Convinced?

Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!

The secret to blueberry success, according to berry expert Amelie Brazelton Aust, at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who’s been growing blueberries on her family farm since she was a child, is the Four Ps — planting, pruning, picking and protecting.

JELLY BEAN Brazelberries blueberries on bush

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!

1. Planting

First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from BrazelBerries, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden.

Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.

Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.

Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.

Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.

2. Pruning

Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.

“It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant,” says Aust, “but I’ve pruned mine in the spring before flowering, and they’ve done great.”

Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. “Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants,” Aust says.

Aust recommends a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean in italian pot

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

3. Picking

With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.

4. Protecting

A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.

Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.

“In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots,” Aust says. “Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.”

Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them? Check out this super easy one cup blueberry pancakes recipe from Jamie Oliver:

blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver