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How to Fertilize Blueberry Plants

There’s nothing like fresh-picked blueberries to add to a smoothie, salad or dessert. Rich in many health-benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, and vitamins, blueberries don’t just taste delicious, they’re also nutritious.

The secret to grow delicious, thriving blueberry plants: feed them, a lot.

Maximize your blueberry bushes’ health, help it resist insects and diseases, and boost your harvest by providing the right kinds of soil amendments.

When to Fertilize Blueberries

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring before the leaves have grown in. This gives the fertilizer time to be absorbed by the roots of the blueberry before it enters its active growth stage during summer.

Feed new plants once in early spring and again in late spring. Healthy, established plants should not need to be fed more often than once a year.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries, Brazelberries Peach Sorbet

Photo courtesy of Bushel and Berry™

The Best Fertilizer for Blueberries

Blueberry bushes respond best to acid fertilizers such as those for rhododendrons and azaleas. Holly-tone has long been used by professional gardeners as the best source of food for berries.

From blocking weeds to conserving water, mulching goes hand in hand with fertilizing and is also very important for blueberry bushes. By feeding as it decomposes, mulch helps to maintain soil acidity. The best mulch options are oak leaves, pine straw or pine bark. Gardeners should spread it in a 3-4” thick layer.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

How to Fertilize Blueberries

For established plants, spread one cupful of Holly-tone per foot of branch spread. Double the quantity if branch spread is 3’ or larger.

If the area to be fed is mulched, remove as much mulch as you can, feed, and then restore the mulch on top of the plant food. If you can’t remove the mulch, just double recommended feeding rates.

To lower the pH of soils for optimum growth of acid-loving plants such as blueberries, you can also mix in Soil Acidifier as needed.

Always water well after fertilizing.

To learn more about blueberries and how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

The Easiest Blueberries for Beginners to Grow

Grow blueberries in your garden, on your patio or balcony in containers. They don’t take much space or effort. And, once you know the basics, you are good to grow.

Native to North America, blueberries grow well in acidic soil and in areas with at least 140 frost-free days per year. They’re also perfect for organic gardeners since they can easily be grown without pesticides.

Below are our favorite picks for beginners to grow.

New jersey blueberry, organic blueberries.

Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown.

Jersey Blueberry – One of the classics in the blueberry world. This reliable plant is super easy to grow and produces pounds and pounds of blueberries.

Blueberry Type: Northern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 6-8’ H x 5-6’ W

Zone: 4-7

Chill Hours: 800-1,000

Ripening Season: Late: End of July-End of August

Taste and Size: Medium blueberries that taste rich and super sweet

Yield: High yield, 7-10 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Great blueberries for baking
  • Fiery orange fall foliage
  • Tolerant of many soil types
Photo courtesy of Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Photo courtesy of Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Emerald Blueberry – These berries are so enchanted you’ll think they’re from the Emerald City of Oz. This new blueberry variety is one you can count on. Year after year, it produces some of the biggest blueberries you’ve ever seen.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 5-6’ H x 5-6’ W

Zone: 7-10

Chill Hours: 250

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

Taste and Size: Enormous blueberries with a sweet flavor

Yield: High yield

Features:

  • Looks great in the landscape
  • Dependable in Southern climates
  • Grows well in Central and South Florida

 

 

pink icing blueberries, easiest blueberries to grow

Photo courtesy of 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

Looking for more options? Learn about the best tasting blueberries and the best blueberries for containers.

Visit our Organic Berry Gardening Guide for even more tips and tricks.

Blueberry Basics: Know What to Grow

We all strive to live a healthy life and that trend is making its way into the garden. Homegrown organic food doesn’t just taste good, but also packs a nutritional punch. It’s safe to say you’ll be anything but blue when growing blueberries.

Jams, muffins and smoothies are only a few steps away! And if those treats don’t inspire you, get this: When you eat antioxidant-packed blueberries, your brain gets a boost, your belly fat can be reduced and you may even prevent certain cancers.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Blueberries are simply the best. So grow the best blueberry varieties you can!

Answer a few quick questions below, and then skim our Blueberry Variety Guide to find the absolute best type for you.

Berry Basic: Questions to Ask Before Choosing Which Blueberry to Grow

Growing blueberries is easy as long as you pick the right berry variety for your yard. Set yourself up for a berry successful season by answering these common berry FAQs.

1. What type of blueberry works best in your area? There’s a type that works best for each USDA Gardening zone. Find yours using our chart below.

  • Half-High – Zones 3-6
  • Northern Highbush Zones 4-7
  • Southern Highbush Zones 8-10

2. What’s the pH of your soil? Grab a soil test and discover the pH of your soil. To thrive, blueberries need a soil pH between 4-5.5. Lower your soil’s pH with Espoma’s Soil Acidifier. This organic alternative is much safer than Aluminum Sulfate. Also, plan to use an organic fertilizer for acidic plants, such as Holly-tone.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

3. How many chill hours are in your area? Blueberries need a certain amount of time in dormancy, these are called chill hours. See how many chill hours are in your area and select a blueberry that matches.

4. When do you want your blueberries to ripen?

Early: Some blueberries ripen as early as May and are finished by the start of June.

Late: Other varieties of berries only ripen in mid-August and produce fruit through September.

5. What’s your ideal blueberry taste and look like?

Decide whether you want sweet or tart berries.

Then select the plumpness. Do you want teeny-tiny or super-sized blueberries?

To learn more about blueberries and how to plant, care for and grow, visit our Organic Blueberry Growing Guide.

Blues Legends: The Best Tasting Blueberries to Grow

With vibrant hues of blue and sweet flavor, no summer fruit is better known (or better for you) than the blueberry. These blue wonders play a vital role in health and well-being.

Plant a blueberry bush today and savor the fresh berries all summer.

If flavor is your top priority, you absolutely must add these blueberries to your garden! Just imagine how mouthwatering that first, homegrown blueberry will be! Until then, though, you’ll keep busy! While growing blueberries, be sure to feed with Holly-tone and keep the soil pH low with Soil Acidifier.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Richard Shiell for Monrovia.

Southmoon Blueberry – A southern favorite that does well in hot temperatures, the Southmoon blueberry is a delicious pick. The sky-blue berries are a nice touch, too. Plant in lighter, sandy soils and ammend with lots of organic material.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 6’ H x 6’ W

Zone: 6-9

Chill Hours: 300-500

Ripening Season: Early: Early-late July

Taste and Size: Large berries with sweet, juicy blueberry flavor

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Showy white flowers
  • Self-pollinating
'O'Neil' Southern Highbush, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Richard Shiell for Monrovia.

O’Neal Blueberry – The O’Neal produces dark blue berries that taste more like candy than fruit. With high-sugar content, you’ll want to eat these yummy berries right as soon as you pick them. As a semi-upright shrub, you can let this blueberry grow wild and free or train it to grow up.

Blueberry Type: Southern Highbush

Light: Full sun

Size: 4-6’ H x 4-6’ W

Zone: 5-9

Chill Hours: 500-600

Ripening Season: Early: Early May-Early June

Taste and Size: Large blueberries that taste juicy and sugary-sweet

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

  • Produces an extra crop
  • Works great in containers
  • Dazzling red fall foliage in cool climates
  • Evergreen in warmer climates

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Polaris Blueberry – If you love to eat blueberries early in the season, the Polaris is for you! The Polaris was developed in Minnesota, so you know it can handle the cold, too! Go ahead, and pair with Northblue to increase blueberry yield.

Blueberry Type: Half-high

Light: Full sun

Size: 3-4’ H x 3-4’ W

Zone: 3-8

Chill Hours: 800+

Ripening Season: Early: Early July-Early August

Taste and Size: Medium, firm blueberries that taste sweet with a hint of acidity

Yield: High yield, 4-7 pounds of blueberries

Features:

  • Native
  • Very aromatic
  • Extremely cold-hardy
  • All-season beauty: white blooms in spring and rosy red foliage in fall

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Bushel and Berry™ Blueberry Glaze – These berries are small in stature and have incredibly glossy, dark green leaves reminiscent of boxwood, and can easily be sheared as such. Small, almost black berries present in little bundles mid-summer. With their deep flesh color, Blueberry Glaze packs a healthful punch with antioxidant-rich qualities.

Blueberry Type: Dwarf

Light: Full sun

Size: 2’ H x 3’ W

Zone: 5-8

Chill Hours: 600

Ripening Season: Mid-summer

Taste and Size: Small, intense flavor much like the flavor of wild blueberries

Yield: Moderate yield

Features:

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

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

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