Follow these steps and enjoy your first crop within a couple of years. Your happy plants will reward you with delicious blueberries for years to come.
For abundant crops, plant blueberries in a place with full sun. Where space is tight, grow dwarf varieties of the shrubs that reach only 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.
Unlike other berries, blueberries need acidic soil. Don’t guess—do a soil test (check your local Lowe’s Garden Center). If your soil is neutral or overly alkaline, add elemental sulfur or soil acidifier. Coffee grounds also increase acidity. Before planting, improve the area with organic matter like compost or shredded leaves, especially if you have heavy clay or very sandy soil.
Blueberries are one of the few natural foods that are truly blue in color.
- Deflower: Pinch off any flowers and berries during the first season. This tough-but-essential task encourages plants to grow strong roots and get a good start. You’ll be rewarded with a nice crop next year.
- Mulch: Keep soil moisture in and the weeds out by spreading a 3-inch layer of pine needles or chopped leaves between plants. Leave a couple of inches of open ground around the base of the stem to allow moisture and air to reach the roots. The bonus: Pine needles also acidify and improve soil gradually as they decompose.
- Water: Blueberries do best with consistent moisture. Give plants a deep drink when the ground feels dry. Back off watering if the soil is consistently wet—soggy soil will rot the roots.
These delicious berries are easy-to-grow, and the sturdy ankle-high plants thrive in full sun and rich soil. You can plant them among vegetables, along bed edges, in wide rows, raised beds, or roomy containers. Select varieties known to thrive in your region—just ask a Lowe’s gardening associate or your local agricultural extension service for advice. You can choose June-bearing plants that provide a brief, early crop and/or everbearing strawberries that produce mostly in June and July with a smaller crop in early fall.
- Plant: Space plants approximately 12 inches apart, staggering them with 18 inches between rows. Within a year or two, the strawberries will grow and spread via runners, or baby plants. Once your strawberry bed has filled in, pinch off the runners to promote bigger crops. After four or five years, renew your strawberry plantings by replacing them.
- Mulch: Spread clean straw or another organic mulch between plants to help minimize watering and weeds. A blanket of chopped leaves over strawberries in late fall protects them from freeze-thaw cycles in cold-winter climates. Remove by spring.
- Harvest: For the juiciest strawberries, water weekly and fertilize sparingly. Snip stems instead of pulling on berries.
For peak flavor, harvest berries when they’re fully colored.
Don’t stop with blueberries and strawberries. Raspberries, blackberries, and currants may require a bit more space but they’re super-healthful crops that are easy to grow. All varieties not available in all markets.
Remove old, dying canes after harvest to keep raspberries productive. Pinch back tips of new growth at 3–4 feet to encourage branching.
Blackberries have many relatives, including marion-berries, boysenberries, dewberries, and logan-berries; some have thornless canes.
Once fruit has formed, toss bird netting over these and other berry bushes to save your crop from hungry fliers.
These yellow gems offer a sweet, fall-crop alternative to the more familiar red varieties but are rarely found in grocery stores.