Before you head to the nursery to pick out your blueberry bushes, learn which companion plants will give your berry patch the best boost.
Blueberries thrive when paired with certain plants that provide protection and pest control, among other good things. With the right neighbors, they are more likely to thrive and produce bumper crops of plump, juicy fruit for you to enjoy.
Today, we’ll explore the top companion plants to help your blueberries prosper and keep your garden naturally balanced.
Good Companion Plants for Blueberries
Blueberries love the company of certain plants. Companion planting with the right neighbors can help your blueberry bushes thrive.
Focus on symbiotic relationships, and you’ll be well on your way to blueberry bliss. Some of the best companions for blueberries are listed below:
- Bee balm
- Lemon balm
What Not to Plant with Blueberries
The companion planting method is all about creating beneficial relationships between plants. For blueberries, that means avoiding plants that compete for resources. Also, stay clear of plants that may be targets for the same pests.
In addition, avoid plants that would prefer alkaline soil conditions. Blueberries prefer acidic soil and won’t produce well if the soil condition is not right.
Below are some of the worst companions for blueberries:
- Brussels sprouts
How to Grow Blueberries
You’ll need to start with the right planting site and soil conditions.
They require acidic soil with a pH between 4 and 5 . So, if your soil is alkaline, you’ll need to amend it before planting.
Also, choose a spot with full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Space the plants about 5 to 6 feet apart. Blueberries are shallow-rooted, so plant them at the same depth as they were in the nursery pot.
Prune the plants in late winter or early spring. Remove any dead or damaged branches and thin out overlapping stems. This will allow for better air circulation and sun exposure.
This plant does not need heavy fertilization to produce a good harvest. During the growing season, you only need to fertilize it about three times.
Fertilize first when it starts to grow, then another application 6 weeks later, and a final application after harvest.
Blueberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 4 and 5.5. Therefore, an acidic fertilizer like cottonseed meal will help maintain the pH needed.
Cottonseed meal is also a slow-releasing nitrogen fertilizer, which is good for blueberry bushes.
You can also add elemental sulfur to the soil to help lower and regulate the pH. However, follow the directions on the product packaging and never apply more than the recommended amount. Over-fertilization is worse than under-fertilization for blueberries.
Blueberries have a few common garden pests to watch out for.
Birds love blueberries as much as we do! Netting your bushes is an easy way to protect the berries. Install netting as soon as the berries start to ripen to prevent birds from getting a taste for them.
Deer will also munch on blueberry leaves and berries. A high enough fence around your yard or garden is typically needed to deter deer. Motion-activated sprinklers can also scare them away.
Flea beetles, cherry fruit worms, and thrips are other pests to watch out for.
Take some preventative measures and properly scout out your blueberry patch for any of these pests.
The bushes can also be susceptible to a few diseases that may affect their growth and fruit production. The main ones to watch out for are mummy berry, botrytis blossom blight, root rot, and stem canker .
Carefully monitoring your blueberry patch and taking action at the first sign of disease will help minimize loss and keep your berry harvest bountiful.
Early detection and treatment are key to overcoming these common but destructive plant diseases.
How to Harvest Blueberries
The mature plants typically start producing fruit 2 to 3 years after planting.
The berries will turn blue when ripe and should come off the bush easily when gently tugged. When your blueberries start turning deep blue, it’s time to harvest.
Check if the berries are ripe by gently pulling at the stem. They should fall right off the bush with just a light thug.
To harvest, use a blueberry picker to cut the berry cluster off at the stem. You can also pluck the berries off with your thumb, but don’t yank them off, or you can damage the bush.
Gently place the cut cluster in your harvesting basket or container.
How to Store
Once picked, blueberries need to be stored properly to maintain freshness and flavor.
Blueberries will last up to 14 days when stored unwashed in the refrigerator. Place them in a shallow container lined with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
For longer-term storage, wash and pat the blueberries dry, then spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze overnight. Transfer to an airtight container or zip-lock bag and return to the freezer.
Frozen blueberries will last up to 12 months. Simply rinse with cold water to thaw and use in recipes as you would fresh blueberries. Freezing is a great way to preserve any extra berries you can’t eat right away.
Where to Buy Seeds
Once you’ve decided to start your companion garden, the next step is to find seeds or seedlings to get started. Check with nurseries and garden centers in your area.
There are also many websites that specialize in seeds for edible plants and fruit. Some reputable retailers for organic seeds include Burpee, SeedsNow, and Amazon.
Now you know some great companion plants for your blueberry bushes. These companions can help repel pests, attract pollinators, and improve soil health through natural processes.