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Though they are not widely grown in the UK, blueberries are becoming more popular with gardeners across the country. The leafy green plants are rewarding to grow for their indigo-coloured fruits and are also “remarkably simple” to get right. While the fruiting season has ended now summer is over, gardening experts have revealed that it’s not too late to add blueberry shrubs to your garden.
When to plant blueberries
Like most summer fruits, blueberries need plenty of sunshine to thrive in the warmer months, so timing is crucial when planting new shrubs.
While they’re not traditional British garden fruits, blueberries can survive most of the winter weather and have a long planting period.
Gardening experts at The Gluttonous Gardener said: “Blueberry bushes may be planted at any time of year as long as the ground isn’t frozen.”
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the best time to do this is between November and March.
Even if the first frosts have arrived, the shrubs will do well if planted on a clear, mild day, when there is no visible frost in the air, or on the ground.
Blueberry bushes can also be planted in June for a later harvest.
The Gluttonous Gardener said: “The delicious indigo-coloured fruits are remarkably simple to grow, thriving in a sunny border or in a pot on the balcony, so even the least green-fingered recipient and the humblest of gardens can produce a delicious home grown harvest.”
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Where to plant blueberry bushes
Bright, sunny positions are best for a fuller harvest, though blueberries will still grow well if planted in a shaded site.
The position is important for a successful crop, though the soil conditions are even more crucial to secure juicy blueberries.
According to experts, these fruiting bushes rely on acidic soil to thrive, so it’s best to stock up on organic matter before planting.
The Gluttonous Gardener explained that if rhododendrons, heather or camellia struggle to grow in your garden, blueberries will grow more readily in pots filled with ericaceous compost instead.
Planting from small plug plants is the quickest way to start growing the indigo-coloured fruits at home.
Before placing the rooted plants in the groun, enrich your soil with plenty of nitrogen-heavy compost and organic matter. Pine needles, leafmould, composted conifer clippings or bracken are ideal for blueberry plants.
Next, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, spreading the roots as you refill the hole to the base of the stem.
Press the soil down with the heel of a boot to firm the blueberry plant into its growing position.
While planting blueberries in the garden can be done now, or later in the year, the RHS warned that not all varieties are winter hardy.
It said: “Not all blueberry cultivars are fully hardy, and even hardy plants can be damaged by a combination of low temperatures and wet conditions, especially if growing in a container.
“So move containerised plants into a shed or garage during prolonged cold spells, or wrap the pot in hessian or bubblewrap to protect the roots.”
Keep new plants well-watered with rain water and prepare for a modest harvest in the first few years.
Over time, your plants will become more abundant each summer.
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