In this post, I am going to talk how I plant blueberries in the right soil so that they can thrive. We have two varieties of blueberry plants in a garden box together: Sunshine Blue and Pink Lemonade. What I share is applicable to blueberries in general. These are my personal experiences growing blueberries, not a guarantee. However, I hope you find it useful.
I painted garden stakes for these bushes. It’s easy to tell them apart by their fruit. Sunshine Blue blueberries are blue when ripe, while Pink Lemonade blueberries are pink when they are ripe.
Pink Lemonade blueberries do not taste like pink lemonade. They are named for the color of the berry when ripe.
The soil for blueberries needs to be acidic. This means a lower pH, between 4.5 and 5.5. There are a few ways to optimize the soil for blueberry plants.
Setting up the Soil for the First Time
The first step when planting the bushes in the ground is to mix peat moss in with your potting soil. This will naturally raise the acidity of the initial growing environment. When my sister Kelly helped us plant our blueberry starts, we mixed a ratio of 25% peat moss, 25% compost, and 50% potting soil. If you have a deep bed, don’t overspend on potting soil—do lasagna gardening or hügelkultur—and then add the 1:4 peat and soil mixture to the top two feet.
You can test the acidity of your soil before placing your seeds or starts by using a soil detector. Usually these detectors are “3-in-1”—they detect moisture of the soil, pH level of the soil, and sunlight level. If you just set up your soil, make sure to test the acidity more than just once at the beginning as the soil is new and establishing its environment.
Once you have planted your blueberry plants, you will want to maintain the optimal acidity as necessary. I have used two methods (described below).
Some friends of ours collected their coffee grounds and gave them to us. I mixed the grounds into the soil. This increases the acidity of the soil, which blueberry plants like.
You don’t need much. I added a half cup of coffee grounds sprinkled around the base of each plant and mixed into the top few inches of the soil lightly.
Another way to raise the acidity of the soil is to add Down to Earth’s Acid Mix. I keep a large box of this on the bottom shelf of my potting table. It is formulated for blueberries (it even has an illustration of blueberries on the packaging).
Follow the directions on the back of the box. You will need to do some math. I have an eight-foot bed with two blueberry bushes. That’s 8% of 100 linear feet. If I follow the directions and use an average of 4 lbs of mix per 100 feet, then that means I only need a third of a pound (8% of 4 lbs). That’s roughly 3/4 cup according to the conversion rate provided on the back of the box. The range is 1/2 cup to 1 cup, then, for two medium-sized blueberry bushes in an eight-foot bed.
I find Down to Earth’s recommendations helpful for planting blueberry bushes if you’d like more detailed guidance. I share what I did in real life above in this post, and it is working well. You can adjust your approach by also taking into account their advice. Once you’ve planted your blueberry plants, send me a photo! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done.