To be honest, I don’t each much fresh fruit. Growing up I actually cannot remember a time when I ate an enjoyed a fresh blueberry but now that I have some of my plants producing at home I look forward to every May and June. Also, now that I have more blueberries, it means I can get creative on how to use them to enhance different drinks. Let’s start this blog series by looking at planting blueberry bushes.
Blueberries for Florida
Two main types of blueberries are grown in our state, Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush. In Clay County, rabbiteye varieties are usually the most popular as they have a low chill hour requirement but both can work if you have the right site and choose good varieties.
Proper Location and Planting
Blueberries do best on acidic, well-drained soils with higher levels of organic matter. This means you will likely need to amend your soil some before planting blueberry bushes. First, get a soil pH test to determine if you have the right acidity which should be between 4.0-5.5. If higher, you can add in more organic matter, apply elemental sulfur, or use an ammonium sulfate fertilizer to help bring it down to acceptable levels. You should also add in organic matter in the form of quality compost or sphagnum moss if you have a sandy, low organic soil like most people in Florida. Some people even decide to grow them in large containers so that they can build their own soil for the plants but they should be at least 18” deep.
Place your plants in a sunny location and allow them space to grow. Allow for at least 7’ wide area for rabbiteyes and 4’ wide for highbush and remember they can get up to 15’ tall. After planting, you should also apply a 3” deep area of pine bark mulch over the root zone.
For more information on planting blueberry bushes, see our great fact sheet: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/MG359 or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office. I also host a series of workshops within the Horticulture Happy Hour topic where we discuss gardening topics and then how to use your produce in your favorite beverages. Blueberries are covered in our “Something Sweet” class and available offerings in Clay County can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/ufifas-extension-clay-county-9764382549 .
Blogs in this Series: