Decide which type of blueberry to grow. There are three primary varieties: lowbush, highbush and rabbiteye. There are also several different cultivars among each type. Be sure to choose the right variety for your area.
Highbush blueberries do well in warmer climates, so they will do well in Southern California.
Choose a sunny location with well draining soil. Although blueberries will grow in partial shade, you will get the best fruit production if you plant them in full sun.
If soil drainage is not good, consider building a raised garden or purchasing a raised garden bed kit. Blueberries do well in raised beds that are 3 to 4 feet wide and 8 to 12 inches high.
Mix peat moss into your soil if you need to improve drainage.
Test the pH of the selected planting site with a soil testing kit. Sensitive to soil pH, blueberries prefer acidic soils with a pH between 4.8 and 5.2.
- If the pH level is below 4, enrich the soil to make it more acidic using acid compost or planting mix.
- If the soil pH is above 4.5, mix in granular sulfur to lower the pH level.
Purchase blueberry plants that are 2 to 3 years old so they will start producing fruit quickly. if you start with much younger plants, it will take years for them to fruit.
Plant blueberries 2 1/2 feet apart if you want to grow them in rows. 6 feet apart if you want to grow them as individual bushes. The hole for the plant should be shallow enough that the top of the root base is 1 to 2 inches above ground. Mound the soil up around the plant and cover the exposed roots.
Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch to the garden to help keep the ground moist and prevent weeds. Bark mulch, sawdust and grass clippings are all good choices for blueberries. Make sure to replenish as needed.
Fertilize your blueberry plants in early spring and again in late spring beginning the second year. It is best to wait until after the first year because they have not depleted the soil’s nutrients yet. Blueberry plants are sensitive to over-fertilization. Use a plant food that is made for acid-loving plants.
Prune your blueberries heavily in the fall after they begin bearing fruit. Remove low growth from around the base and dead wood from all parts of the bush. If you have not removed 1/3 to 1/2 the plant after doing those two things, then thin out some of the smaller branches until you do.