How to Grow Blueberry Plants in the UK
Grow Blueberry Plants in the UK
Someone once said that growing blueberry plants in Scotland would be difficult and they would not survive as it was too cold and the soil was not good. There are times when certain advice would be taken not to do something. However, when the advice comes from someone that is a bit arrogant, it is human instinct to do the opposite. So let’s grow blueberry bushes in Scotland, why not! In this post, we’ll learn how to successfully grow blueberry plants.
It does not take much for blueberry plants to be productive, as they are self-fertile and do not require much care. All thats needed is just a bit of know-how on what to do and how to do it right. Basic things like, watering the plants. As you know berries are roughly 90% water. So to have those blueberries nice and plump, they require water. Fertilising is also something to consider as plants do need a bit of nutrients. Of course where to plant and how to plant to make the growing of blueberry plants and bushes the best thing for gardens!
Growing Blueberry Plants in Pots
Planting them in containers or pots, or just out in the garden is not a bother or a chore. There is no pruning required of the blueberry plants, other than the odd broken branch, or one that has died. They tend not to grow to massive heights, about 4-5 feet and it is very manageable. Make sure that you plant the bush about 3-4 feet apart as they will become nice bushy plants and need the room.
Planting in containers or pots is great, as you can have your blueberry plant anywhere in the garden and growing blueberries in pots is so easy. Make sure that your plant does not outgrow your pot, and that the soil should be ericaceous mixed with some general compost. The container should also have adequate drainage holes, very important to let water out as blueberry plants do not like to be waterlogged.
Remember that Blueberry Plants are outside plants and growing them in a hot greenhouse or hot conservatory is not the right environment for these bushes. Blueberry bushes are not accustomed to the heat that is generated in these environments and will probably die due to the extreme heat. The Northern Highbush variety is for the colder climes and greenhouse and conservatory are not cold climates. They can be grown in tunnels, but again, temperatures must be watched to ensure that you do not ‘cook’ the plants.
One common mistake that many garden growers make is fertilising blueberry plants with the WRONG fertiliser. Someone emailed me with photos to say that we had sent them blueberry plants that ‘just died’ after a couple of months. The first thing I ask is, “have you fertilised the plants and if yes, what did you use?” And what do you think 99% of people say? TOMATO FOOD!! Which I am not surprised to hear, and the classic is, “I got the advice from my garden centre”.
Blueberry Plants require feed that is relevant to them, rhododendron / azalea feed. They are acid plants, and have specific chemical elements that they will react badly to. Not all fertiliser products can service all plants! Tomato food has the wrong N (nitrogen) source. It requires NH3 N, BBs and tomato feed has NO3 which burns the plant. Another thing to remember is do not over fertilise and do not fertilise after about 4th of July.
Planting in the Garden
If you want to grow your blueberry plant in the garden, make sure that the hole has a mixture of ericaceous and general compost and is capable of good drainage. Do not submerge the plant in a big hole, but just enough to cover the root base, backfill, and water. Again, watering must be done during dry spells, and the plants have to be well watered, even during a bit of rain. You can top dress the plant next year with some rhododendron / azalea compost and let the water leech in the goodness to the plant.
One Last Tip
One last tip, blueberry plants are self-fertile and do not require a pollinator. It would be best to have two plants, and it is not necessary to have two different varieties, but that would be good as then you can have different fruiting seasons and different tasting berries. The plants do not need to be TALL, as it is the age of the plant that will determine the cropping value – ScotPlants Direct sells 2-year-old plants, 30-40cm tall, but they are strong and productive. You can also come into Hedgehogs Nursery here in Glenrothes Fife and choose your own plants, or combination of plants.