Blueberries have risen so quickly in popularity these last few years it is difficult to keep up with demand. With shop bought prices remaining high there is a strong economic argument to growing your own. The bushes themselves too are versatile in the garden. They take very well to container growing in 18" pots of ericaceous compost and are also quite attractive in their own right - incorporate them into the flower border or shrubbery where the fabulous autumnn colour and pearly bell flowers in Spring look entirely at home.
Blueberries can grow to 6' or more ultimately but are quite slow and often seen less than that. They are frost hardy in virtually all areas. They are quite precocious and will fruit as quite young bushes.
Blueberries are all partly self fertile and if you grow just one it will have a scattering of berries most years. But for the best yield plant a pair of different varieties.
General cultivation notes
The blueberry will set fruits with their own pollen but for the best results plant two varieties. Plants are normally supplied as container grown. .
The blueberry is a very decorative plant and may be grown in containers using an acid rhododendron compost (Arthur Bowers Ericaceous), planted in the rhododendron border, or in a specially prepared site using peat and plant is usually sufficient. Plant 5ft apart and mulch with peat each year.
PRUNING. Regular pruning is not needed, just thin the bush when required by removing a few of the oldest barest stems to ground level.
FEEDING. A general Growmore fertilizer at 3oz per square yard if your soil is poor but 1oz per square yard of Sulphate of Ammonia each Spring is normally sufficient. Sequestrene is also ideal.
PESTS AND DISEASES. None of importance as yet in Britain, blueberries do need water in Summer, if possible rain water.
Further notes and observations
Blueberries have been grown with a great deal of success for several years in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In extensive trials at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Scotland they have given excellent results and are becoming more popular than ever in gardens everywhere.
The leaves of the blueberry are bright, dark green with a lighter bloom on the upper surface. In autumn the plant turns to a shimmering mass of tints of red and gold, worthy of every shrub border. They are, in fact often grown at the rear of the shrub border as well as in the conventional fruit garden. The spring flowers are white with a pink tint, long, bell-shaped and produced in large clusters. Three quarters of these flowers will normally set fruit to give heavy crops of quality fruit.
The berries are blue-black with a fine, waxy bloom that gives the appearance of pure light blue all over the bush. Blueberries are hardy, but the fruits will appreciate protection from very strong winds. Thriving in full sun, they fruit very early in life and will crop well for up to 50 year.s They may be grown in containers using an acid rhododendron compost (Arthur Bowers Ericaceous). Planted in the rhododendron border, or in a specially prepared site using peat compost/soil at a half to half bases. In most soils a hole 18" by 18" filled with this mixture for each plant, is usually sufficient. Plant 5' apart and mulch with peat each year. When the time comes to pick your first crop of luscious berries, remember that the fruit is not fully ripe until one week after turning blue. During this week the fruit will increase in size and the flavour becomes sweeter. The berries can be nearly 1/2" in diameter and are superb for pies, jams, crumbles, tarts, freezing etc.
There are very few diseases and pests of blueberries in the UK and these are not normally a problem if a named, selected variety is planted. The best results are obtained from 2 year old container grown plants in good health, which is the type we grow and despatch. Blueberry roots resent drying out in transplanting, so our container grown plants are a must. It is essential for the best results to purchase your plants from a specialist nursery. There are many varieties available in Europe and America, but those that we list are all known to crop well in the Uk. Never plant just a 'blueberry' but always a named, selected variety. Although self fertile and each variety will crop well if planted on its own, by far the best results are obtained if two different varieties are planted to allow for cross-pollination. We would like to acknowledge our appreciation of the extensive work that has been carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture in Scotland, The Scottish Crop Research Institute and East Malling Research Station on blueberry culture for gardens everywhere.
Are myriad and differ little. The following is a good selection and listed in order of ripening - you can make a selection which covers the season.
Bluecrop [*number one best* variety]
There are some startling new varieties coming onto the season. Darrow, Polaris and Chandler have giant-sized berries the size of small cherries. Misty and Sunshine Blue are special for their delicate shaded foliage which is most attractive - and they provide good crops too.
If you haven't grown Blueberries before give them a try - they aren't difficult as long as their requirement for an acid soil is satisfied and they really are some of the most beautiful of plants and the fruits of course absolutely delicious! Best of all they are the perfect patio shrubs and seem to like containerisation very much.