Blueberry Bush Guide: How To Plant and Grow Types of Blueberries, Care Tips

Person on a stool harvests fruits from a blueberry bush after learning how to identify and grow types of blueberries, where to plant blueberry bushes, and care tips for growing blueberries.

Bursting with delicious dark-colored berries, the Blueberry bush is one of the most popular fruit-bearing bushes among North American gardeners.

Blueberry bushes range in height from 1-15 feet tall depending on the variety. They have shallow fibrous roots and woody brown canes with a reddish hue on new growth.

There are also lowbush varieties under 3 feet tall that spread underground rhizomes, as well as half-high hybrids and high bush varieties that can reach up to 15 feet tall.

But, have you ever considered growing them in your backyard?

This complete guide explains everything you need to know about how to grow a blueberry bush and enjoy excellent harvests.



Blueberry Bush in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Characteristics: Blueberries are shrubs that produce sweet, nutritious berries. They have bell-shaped flowers and leaves that turn brilliant shades of red and orange in autumn.
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • Genus: Vaccinium
  • Leaf: Green, ovate leaves with pointed tips. New leaves have a reddish tinge.
  • Seed: Tiny seeds inside the berries.
  • Blossoms: Clusters of small, creamy white or pink bell-shaped flowers bloom in spring.
  • Native Habitat: Various species of Blueberry are native to North America.
  • Height: 1-15 feet tall, depending on variety
  • Canopy: Low canopy, 2-10 feet wide depending on variety
  • Type: Perennial flowering shrub
  • Native Growing Zone: Blueberry species and varieties can be found growing across North America in zones 3-10, depending on the variety. Most plants are best suited to zones 3-7 in the north and 7-9 in the south.

How To Identify Blueberry Bush

When they’re covered in berries, the Blueberry bush plants are easy to ID. When determining how to identify Blueberry bush without fruit, however, you need to look at the leaves.

Graphic of Blueberry Bush Identification, displaying images of Blueberry bush leaves, Blueberry bush flowers, and Blueberry bush fruits.

(Leaves Image: Pam Carter (Dustytoes)8)

In general, you can identify Blueberry plants by their green, ovate foliage, which have pointed tips that turn brilliant shades of red and orange in the fall. Clusters of small white or pink bell-shaped flowers bloom on the bushes in spring,1 later producing berries.

Blueberry Bush Leaves

Blueberry bush leaves are green and ovate in shape with pointed tips. They have a leathery texture and take on brilliant crimson-red and orange hues in the fall, providing beautiful autumn foliage before they eventually drop.

New spring growth begins with a reddish tinge on the leaves and stems, transitioning to green as the leaves mature.

Bear in mind that yellowing leaves signify iron deficiency resulting from incorrect pH. Blueberry plants need highly acidic soil with an optimum pH between 4.0 and 5.0 to properly take up nutrients through their shallow roots.

Blueberry Bush Flower

Blueberry bush flowers are small, creamy white or pink, bell-shaped blooms that grow in dangling clusters. They emerge at the same time as the leaves in early spring.

The flowers have five petals with distinctive curled stamen tips. The Blueberry bloom period is relatively short compared to other fruiting plants, usually lasting 1 to 2 weeks.

Cross-pollination between varieties produces much heavier fruit sets with larger berries, so it’s generally best to plant two different Blueberry varieties with similar bloom times for optimal flowering and fruiting results.

Blueberry Bush Seeds

Mature fruit contains tiny Blueberry bush seeds that can be extracted and planted to grow new bushes. To harvest Blueberry seeds for planting, it’s best to mash ripe berries and collect the seeds that sink to the bottom, separating them from the pulp and juice.

Bear in mind that Blueberry seeds require cold stratification, similar to winter dormancy, to germinate. You can plant them in moist sphagnum moss and then refrigerate for 90 days before moving them to a tray of seed-starting mix under indirect light.

Germination occurs in 10 to 60 days at 60 to 70 degrees F, after which seedlings must grow 1 to 2 years before they will be hearty enough for your backyard garden. With this in mind, most people prefer to start their Blueberry plants with heartier cuttings.

Growing a Blueberry Bush From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

Thinking of growing a Blueberry bush from a seed, cutting, or seedling? Before you decide, bear in mind that growing from seeds gives variable and unpredictable results, while vegetative propagation ensures that new plants are genetically identical to the parent plant.

For home gardens, you’ll have a much easier time if you simply buy a healthy 1 to 3-year-old Blueberry bush seedling.

How To Grow Blueberries

When deciding how to grow Blueberries, you want to consider your tolerance for effort, time, and potential failed crops. Unless you’re deadset on challenging yourself by growing from seed, the most reliable methods are cuttings, layering, division, or simply purchasing nursery transplants.

Cuttings taken in spring or late summer can be rooted under mist or in a container of soilless potting mix. Once roots develop, young plants should be grown for 1 to 2 years before transplanting outside into acidic, organically enriched soil in full sun.

Consistent moisture and semi-annual fertilization produce the healthiest growth, which will yield at maturity between years 6 and 10.

Where To Plant Blueberry Bushes

When determining where to plant Blueberry bushes, you need to consider sunlight. Blueberry bushes require full sun exposure (at least 6 hours of direct sun daily)4 and well-drained, acidic soil rich in organic matter.

Choose a sheltered spot protected from harsh winds. Avoid planting near trees or buildings which can shade the plants.

Select a site with heavy loam rather than heavy clay soil. You can amend clay and other solids with compost or peat moss to improve drainage and nutrient-holding capacity.

You should also check the soil pH when preparing your site to make sure it is between 4.0 and 5.5. If the pH is too high, you can lower it by adding elemental sulfur as needed.

How To Plant a Blueberry Bush

When considering how to plant a Blueberry bush, you need to be wary of cold weather. Bushes should be planted in spring once any danger of frost is passed.

Space plants 3 to 5 feet apart in rows spaced 8 to 10 feet away from each other. Dig holes twice as wide and deep as the root mass and mix peat moss into the backfill soil to amend and improve moisture retention.

Spread roots evenly in the planting hole, backfill, and water thoroughly. Do not allow the roots or crown to dry out.

Water 1 to 2 inches weekly in the absence of rain and more when fruits are forming. You should also mulch plants 3 inches deep to protect shallow roots and lock in moisture.

When To Plant Blueberry Bushes

The best time for planting Blueberry plants is early spring or late fall in warmer zones 6 and higher once plants have entered dormancy. That said, to determine when to plant Blueberry bushes, you have to consider the local weather.

The ideal planting window is after the last frost date when soil temperatures warm to above 60 degrees F. Since unpredictable cold snaps can threaten the plants, it’s generally best to wrap young branches if late cold weather is on the horizon.

Container plants can be planted anytime during the growing season since roots are undisturbed when planting. Be sure to provide consistent irrigation and keep plants moist if planting during the summer heat.

Growing Blueberries in Pots

Growing blueberries in pots is easy since they tend to thrive in containers. Use a pot at least 12 to 14 inches deep, and make sure it has drainage holes.

Peat-based, acidic potting mixes provide ideal soil chemistry.

Plant one bush per pot, water when the top inch of soil is dry, and fertilize with acidic plant food. Place containers where they will receive at least 6 hours of sun.

For cold hardy varieties, be sure to overwinter in a nice protected location and bring tropical southern High bush varieties indoors before the first frost.

Types of Blueberry Bushes

There are four main types of Blueberry bushes: Highbush, Lowbush, Half-high Hybrids, and Rabbiteye. Each has distinct characteristics suited to different growing zones and climates.

Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

The Highbush Blueberry plant (Vaccinium corymbosum)2 is the most common commercially grown type. Reaching 6 feet in height, they are native to eastern North America.

A Highbush Blueberry shrub in early bloom with light green leaves, growing in a forest.

(Image: Jim Rusconi9)

These plants are hearty in growing zones of 4 or 5, depending on the variety. They are also well adapted to humid summer climates.

Popular northern Highbush varieties include Bluecrop, Blueray, Jersey, and Elliott. Southern Highbush varieties have lower chill hour requirements to thrive in warmer regions like zones 7-9.

A low-growing wild Blueberry bush with ripe blueberries, in a field with a cloudy sky in the background.

(Image: Bruno (Bru-nO)10)

Wild Blueberry Bush

The term “Wild Blueberry Bush” most often refers to native strands of Lowbush Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium). Producing smaller, intensely flavorful fruit, Lowbush Blueberry plants grow naturally in the acidic, rocky soils of northeastern and northcentral North America.

The wild plants reach about 1 foot tall, spreading by underground rhizomes. Most Lowbush blueberries sold for commercial production are selected clones from wild strands.

Popular Lowbush varieties are Blomidon and Brunswick, which are both hardy to zone 3. Interestingly, the vast majority of all wild Lowbush Blueberries are harvested in Maine,3 where an ideal climate and soil conditions allow lush native plants.

Growing Blueberries: Blueberry Bush Care

Contrary to common belief, growing Blueberries is not a hands-off job. Blueberry bush care includes pruning annually and maintaining consistent soil moisture, acidity, and fertility.

Blueberry bushes produce best with consistent, balanced fertility for the first six years of planting. After establishment, older canes should be renewed by pruning out one-fifth of mature stems each year to stimulate new fruiting wood.

A Blueberry bush branch with clusters of ripe blueberries among fresh green leaves.

(Image: Jill Wellington (JillWellington)11)

Here are some other planting tips for Blueberry bush growth to maximize yields year after year.

How To Prune a Blueberry Bush

When considering how to prune a Blueberry bush, you want to focus on consistency. For the first four years after planting, remove only damaged or dead wood.

Beginning year five, you should prune annually in early spring, removing about 20% of the oldest canes to stimulate new growth.

Cut out thin, weak, and low-hanging branches. You should also remove inward-facing branches and any branches that prevent light from reaching the center of the plant.

Leave 4 to 6 evenly spaced healthy canes per plant and 1 to 2 new shoots to replace older canes over time.

Do Blueberry Bushes Need Full Sun?

Obviously, every plant needs sunlight to grow. But do Blueberry bushes need full sun to survive?

Ideally, you should position your Blueberry plants so they get direct sun exposure daily for optimal growth and production. Blueberries are able to tolerate partial shade conditions better than most fruit plants, but berry quantity and plant vigor will diminish with insufficient light.

But how much sunlight does Blueberry bush need each day to thrive? The short answer is at least six hours.

Anything less can result in reduced yields. It’s especially important that Blueberry flower buds receive full sun during spring bloom for good pollination, fertilization, and fruit set later on.

With this in mind, plant bushes in an open location devoid of shade trees or structures that could cast shade over the plants.

Companion Plants For Growing Blueberry Bush

The best companion plants for growing Blueberry bushes are those needing acidic soil. Ideally, they should also provide benefits like pest control, pollination, weed suppression, or foliage contrast.

Evergreen azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, heathers, and heaths make attractive companion plants around blueberries. Low-hanging herbs like thyme and chamomile also tolerate the preferred soil conditions.

Bee balm, butterfly bush, and other nectar sources attract different types of bees and certain types of butterflies, which are all helpful pollinators. Ornamental grass provides vertical contrast while acting as living mulch.

On the other hand, you should avoid tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant, which prefer neutral soil pH.

Best Growing Conditions for Blueberry Bush

Blueberry bushes are surprisingly resilient plants that can grow in imperfect environments. But what are the best growing conditions for Blueberry bush plants that produce lots of delicious berries?

As previously mentioned, blueberries grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soil with a pH between 4.0 and 5.5.5 At the same time, they also require good air circulation, and their shallow fibrous roots demand even soil moisture.

A wild blueberry bush with slender branches, ripe, dark blueberries with leaves turning shades of green, and red.

(Image: Сергей Шабанов (sergei_spas)12)

Blueberries thrive in light, loose, organically enriched soil amended with materials like peat moss, rotted sawdust, pine needles, or oak leaves. Such soil additions also help maintain the acidic pH blueberries need to thrive.

It’s also important to shelter plants from harsh winds without planting bushes too close to buildings or trees, which can block sunlight. Always space plants adequately to maximize airflow and reduce the risk of foliar diseases.

How To Stop Blueberry Bush Disease

When determining how to stop Blueberry bush disease, focus on prevention. This means creating conditions that discourage fungal and bacterial disease by:

  • Choosing resistant cultivars
  • Planting in sunny, well-circulated areas
  • Promoting general plant vigor through proper pH, water, and fertility
  • Promptly removing infected plant debris
  • Applying preventative copper fungicide or sulfur spray

Blueberry bush disease prevention also involves good sanitation. Sterilize pruning tools between plants.

Remove water-soaked dropped fruits regularly to thwart the spear of anthracnose and common pests of the Blueberry bush.

Although chemical insecticides and fungicides can be effective, many people have great success with natural pest control for Blueberry bush plants, which focuses mainly on creating preventative conditions.

The best way to prevent common Blueberry diseases (like mummy berry, Botrytis blossom blight,7 Alternaria leaf spot, and Phomopsis canker) is through cultural controls rather than chemicals wherever possible.

This means selecting resistant varieties; scouting regularly for early signs of infections; improving plant vigor, and promoting airflow. It also means removing affected plant parts promptly, gathering dropped fruit, and avoiding working amid wet plants.

If chemical intervention becomes necessary, certified organic products like neem oil, sulfur, copper salts, or Bacillus subtilis work well on the average Blueberry bush.

Blueberry Growth Stages

Blueberry growth stages occur over several years. During the juvenile establishment stage, from planting until flowering, the plants allocate resources strictly toward root and vegetative growth.

You should remove flowering buds at this stage to promote root establishment prior to fruiting.

The mature growth stage runs from years 3 to 7, with the first harvests beginning light and then increasing each season. Blueberry bushes hit peak production between years 6 and 10 and may continue producing for decades with proper care.

Canes deteriorate as bushes enter old age and need rejuvenation by pruning out the oldest one-fifth of stems every 1 to 2 years to maintain plant vigor.

Blueberry Plants Facts

The more you know about your plants, the more success you will have when planting. Here are some Blueberry bush facts to help guide your cultivating efforts.

Blueberry Tree or Bush?

Do those delicious berries from the store grow on a Blueberry tree or bush? You should already know by now that blueberries grow on bushy shrubs ranging from 1 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety.

Some southern high bush species can get very tall, while northern high bush varieties reach an average of 4 to 6 feet at maturity.

Blueberry Bush Growing Zone

Blueberry bush growing zones fall within 3 to 10 depending on the type of plant.

TypeGrowing Zone
Highbush Blueberries:Hardy zone 4-7
Lowbush BlueberriesHardy zone 3-7
Half-high Hybrid BlueberriesZone 3-7
Rabbiteye BlueberriesZone 7-9
Southern Highbush BlueberriesZone 7-9

Blueberry Bush Growth Rate

The Blueberry bush growth rate is considered relatively slow. Healthy plants can take up to 8 to 10 years after planting to reach their mature shape and size.

It’s important to place plants properly the first time because Blueberry shrubs lack the vigor to grow well if transplanted later.

Try to provide adequate spacing as they develop and limit fruiting early on to promote root and canopy growth. You should also remove competitive weeds and grasses.

When Do Blueberries Bloom?

You know it can take years for Blueberry plants to bear fruit, but when do blueberries bloom? When they’ve matured enough, most Blueberry species bloom during the mid to late spring from April through June, depending on the variety and climate.

Bloom timing directly affects fruiting times since berries take 6 to 8 weeks after flowering to mature for picking. Specific cycles depend on the growing region and chilling hours accumulated over winter, which both help initiate spring growth and flowering.

Is Every Blue Berry Edible?

Can you eat just any blue berry you find on a wild plant? That would be a very bad idea.

A rustic wooden bowl full of freshly picked blueberries on a green lawn.

(Image: Veronica Bosley (Veronicatxoxo)13)

While all Vaccinium species produce edible berries, they can be easily confused in the wild with potentially toxic look-alikes. For example, laurel bushes produce poisonous blue berries.

An experienced forager can distinguish differences in seeds, leaves, stems, flowers, odor, and season. On the other hand, it’s risky for novices to harvest berries in the wild especially when they are not familiar with the differences between the Blueberry bush and other poisonous plants.

Frequently Asked Questions About Blueberry Bush

Do Blueberries Grow Every Year?

Blueberries are perennial shrubs that grow annual flowers. You can expect mature plants to yield fruit each season.

How Large Do Blueberry Plants Grow?

How big do Blueberry bushes get in ideal growing conditions? While most bushes grow between 1 to 4 feet in height, certain varieties can grow up to 15 feet tall.

Are Blueberry Plants Eco-Friendly?

How much carbon does Blueberry bush sequester? The eco-friendly potential of each plant depends on many factors, including the size of the plant, additional ground coverage crops, and soil preparation.6

What Do Blueberry Plants Symbolize?

Blueberry bush symbolism centers on abundance and tranquility. Blueberries are also known to represent nourishment, youthfulness, and balance.

What Is a Blueberry Plant's Growth Rate?

How long it takes to grow Blueberry bush depends on the variety and climate. It can take up to three years before Blueberry plants yield fruit.

When Is the Best Time To Plant Blueberries?

Most plants do best when planted in early spring, but this depends on the variety and local climate. To determine when to plant Blueberry bush for the best yield, consider checking with a local botanist or home garden expert.

What Color Are Blueberry Plant Flowers?

Blueberry plants produce clusters of pink flowers or types of white flowers with small urn-like shapes. Flowers generally bloom for one- to two-week periods.

How Often Should You Water Blueberry Plants?

Watering needs for Blueberry bush plants depend on the season and local climate. In general, most bushes will need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

How Much Spacing Do Blueberry Plants Need?

When determining how far apart to plant Blueberry bush, you need to consider both root development and proper airflow, which helps ward off disease. In general, it’s best to space plants 3 to 5 feet apart in rows spaced 8 to 10 feet away from each other.


1N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2023). Vaccinium corymbosum. NC State Extension. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

2Brand, M. H. (2015). Vaccinium corymbosum. University of Connecticut. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

3State of Maine. (2023). Blueberries. Maine DOE. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

4University of Arkansas System. (2017, September 16). Blueberry. Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

5Tepe, E. S., Hoover, E. E., Luby, J., Klodd, A., & Schuh, M. (2020). Growing blueberries in the home garden. Regents of the University of Minnesota. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

6Truscott, S. (2023, October 17). New from Extension: Crop soils as carbon sinks; blueberry economics. CAHNRS News. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

7University of Connecticut. (2021, August 23). Blueberry Disease Management. UCONN | University of Connecticut. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

8Blueberry, Bush, Shrub Photo by Pam Carter (Dustytoes). (2013, April 8) / Pixabay Content License. Cropped and added image, text, shape, and background elements. Pixabay. Retrieved December 28, 2023, from <>

9Photo 125173259 (Northern Highbush Blueberry) Photo by Jim Rusconi. (2021, May 2) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped and Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

10Blueberries, Berry, Wild blueberry Photo by Bruno (Bru-nO). (2018, August 26) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

11Blueberries, Bush, Nature Photo by Jill Wellington (JillWellington). (2016, August 6) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

12Blueberries, Berries, Tree Photo by Сергей Шабанов (sergei_spas). (2023, July 17) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>

13Blueberries, Blueberry bush, Fruits Photo by Veronica Bosley (Veronicatxoxo). (2020, September 1) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from <>