While the harvest is long over, blueberries still have a lot to offer this season! Of the many native shrubs with lovely fall color, blueberries certainly deserve a spot at the top of the list. Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and all of its domestic varieties sport gorgeous, bright scarlet red to deep, burgundy-maroon colors as the short, cooler days of autumn approach. The vibrant foliage of blueberries is comparable to that of Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) and the invasive burning bush (Euonymus alatus). But, unlike most other shrubs with beautiful fall color, most do not produce delicious edible fruit too!
Blueberries are easy to grow, as long as you have moist, acidic soil to grow them in. It is best to do soil test in the area you wish to your plant your blueberries. If your pH is too high, acidify the soil by using natural products such as peat or elemental sulfur. Ideally, blueberries should grow in soils with a pH reading between 4.3 and 5.5, though will usually tolerate up to 6.
Because of their sensitivity to soil pH, certain products should never be used in the soil around blueberries. Avoid garden lime or fertilizers that are not specified for blueberries or acidic-loving plants. Organic fertilizers such as garden compost, Holly-tone, and Berry-tone are good choices for blueberries. Full sun is preferred for blueberries, though they tolerate part shade (harvest will be smaller in less sun).
Most blueberry varieties are self-pollinating, meaning you do not need to plant another variety for pollination. However, by planting more than one variety, you can often encourage a bigger, better harvest. If you only have space for one, no worries! You can absolutely just have one blueberry bush. In fact, both domestic varieties we currently have available are self-pollinating.
Available Varieties (Fall 2021)
Bluecrop Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Bluecrop’)
Bluecrop is a perfect variety for Pennsylvania gardeners! This mid-season variety produces big clusters of large, sweet berries ready to harvest in July. This variety is almost 90 years old, as it was developed in the mid-1930’s. A great companion variety is ‘Jersey’.
Elliott Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Elliott’)
Elliott is a fantastic late-season variety. It produces big, delicious berries up to 1/2 inch in diameter ready to harvest in August. As a late season variety, spring frosts are less likely to damage buds. This variety dates back to the 1970’s and is still one of the highest quality blueberries for backyard gardens.
Wild Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
We do not have the true wild blueberry often, as it can be difficult to source. However, we have some now that are available as tublings. Tublings are tall, skinny pots used for growing young trees and shrubs. That said, the wild blueberry tublings contain a plant that is about 12 inches tall with an excellent root system. You can plant them right in your garden soil!
Wild blueberries are variable in their size and flavor, with some being quite sweet and others more tangy. The shrub itself is also variable, with mature heights ranging from just 4 feet all the way up to 12 feet! You can plant wild blueberries as you would domestic blueberries, though many people like to plant them for songbirds. Blueberries are an absolute favorite of many songbird species such as mockingbirds, catbirds, waxwings, jays, and more!
No matter what variety you plant, you can expect gorgeous fall color. Stop in today and see the plants we have available. The Bluecrop and Elliott are large, fruit-bearing size and should be full of blooms next spring! Get a head start on your edible landscape for next year by planting some blueberries this fall!