AG’s Kris Collins visits Trehane Nursery for some expert advice on planting blueberries

Trehane Nursery in Dorset has been growing blueberries since 1949, as well as a huge pick your own field, you can find their produce on supermarket shelves in the summer months, and they supply a wide range of cultivars for home growing.

Nursery manager Lorraine Keets says get the soil right and blueberry bushes will last for years in open ground. In the wild these plants thrive in free-draining but poor acidic soil. If you have heavy clay, or very alkaline soil, grow them in pots of ericaceous compost ( detailed at the bottom of this article).

Alternatively plant them in sunken or raised beds filled with free draining ericaceous compost now,  just before they move into their dormant phase.

Here’s how:

Step 1 If you have acidic soil go straight to step 2. If not create a sunken or raised bed, 18in (45cm) deep  and fill the space with an ericaceous compost, planting distance should be 5ft (1.5m)

Step 2 Dig out a planting hole wide and deep enough to take the rootball and keep the plant at the same level as it was in its pot. Backfill the hole with more compost; firm in with your heel

Step 3 Water in the plant and apply a mulch of bark chippings (ideally from coniferous trees) to protect the plant from winter extremes and to reduce competition from weed seeds

In pots

Pot blueberries up in early spring, no matter what time of year you buy them. They prefer an annual repotting rather than being placed in a large pot as a young plant. Blueberries take around eight years to mature, and should go into slightly larger pots each year until you reach an eventual pot size of 2-3ft (60-90cm) diameter.

Three tips for blueberry success

  • Cross pollination gives better yields. Plant more than one variety, or team up with a next door neighbour if space is limited.
  • Give a light feed of specialist ericaceous fertiliser  each April.
  • Blueberries require a planting distance of  up to 5ft (1.5m). Make the most of the space by underplanting with cranberries, another acid loving fruit crop