Gardeners' World: Monty Don shares tips for planting seeds
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Blueberry bushes are easy to grow and don’t require huge amounts of attention if you plant them right in the first place. Blueberries are not only delicious and highly nutritious, but they’re also attractive shrubs, with lovely white flowers in spring and deep leaf colour in autumn.
Where and when should I plant blueberries?
You should plant blueberries from November to March, and harvest them in July through to September.
Plant your blueberries in moist, well-drained acidic soil.
Do not allow the soil to dry out between waterings if you are growing them in a container, and otherwise let rain take care of keeping them hydrated.
They are very fussy about the acidity of your soil, and will not thrive if planted in alkaline soil.
The pH needs to be 5.5 or lower, and you can measure this with a pH testing kit, which can be bought at any garden centre or homeware store.
They prefer light soils over heavy clays, and like to be in a sunny but sheltered spot.
If you don’t have acidic soil in your garden, you can grow blueberries in pots of peat-free ericaceous (acidic) compost.
If you’re planting a young plant into a container, choose one that is at least 30cm in diameter.
How should I look after blueberries?
Blueberries, like most fruits, are a favourite of birds and bugs.
To protect them from birds, you should cover your blueberries with netting or a horticultural fleece.
Blueberries don’t generally suffer from many pests and diseases.
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However, watch out for common problems like powdery mildew, vine weevil and aphids on new young shoots.
Look out for yellowing leaves, which can be a sign of chlorosis.
This happens when there is a change in the pH of the soil and will kill your blueberries if you don’t act fast.
Be vigilant if growing blueberries in a pot or if your soil isn’t naturally acidic.
Make sure you check the pH of the soil annually to monitor conditions.
To get rid of the problem, repot with fresh compost, rainwater and add a liquid fertiliser designed for ericaceous plants.
When your blueberries are ripe, pick off the deepest blue berries and leave the greener ones to continue ripening.
It takes several years for your plant to crop heavily, but you should enjoy fruits in the first summer of planting.
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