Get It Growing: Growing blueberries

Blueberries do extremely well in our climate and can remain productive for 50-100 years.

WSU-recommended blueberry varieties for Western Washington

Early season







Late mid-season



Late season





Blueberries do extremely well in our climate and can remain productive for 50-100 years. Here are a few tips to ensure that your blueberries provide a bountiful harvest for many years to come.

Blueberry varieties bloom and ripen at different times leading to the labels “early,” “mid-season,” “mid-late season” and “late.” Select varieties suited to our climate (see sidebar, B-2.)

Although you can plant just one blueberry and get a decent crop, blueberries produce more and bigger berries when pollinated by a different cultivar. Also, if you plant several varieties that ripen at different times, you will extend the harvest season.

Blueberries are acid-loving plants. (They don’t really love acid so much as need certain nutrients that become more available in soils with a lower, more acidic, pH.)

Plant blueberries in an area with full sun and well-drained, acidic soil (pH of 4.5 to 5.5). Because acidifying the soil takes time, check the pH 6-12 months before planting. If the soil is too alkaline, amend the planting site with elemental sulfur.

Plant blueberries as soon as the ground can be worked. Prepare a hole that is three times as wide as the root system. Add one gallon of soaking wet peat to the hole, mixing it with the native soil. If you are planting bare-root plants, spread the roots out carefully. Position the plant with the uppermost roots 1 inch below ground level. If you are planting a blueberry grown in a container, set the plant at the same depth as at the nursery. Either way, backfill the hole with native soil, then water to settle the soil around the roots.

Space plants 4-6 feet apart to allow room for growth and rows 9 to 10 feet apart.

Mulch with sawdust, wood chips or straw to maintain soil moisture and discourage weeds. Because blueberries have roots near the soil surface, hand weed. Make sure your blueberries get 1-2 inches of water each week. Remove flowers and do not let plants fruit for the first two seasons.

Fertilize your blueberries starting the second year and continue every year thereafter. Fertilize them at bud break with a 5-10-10 fertilizer and again in mid-May and mid-June with ammonium sulfate. Amounts of fertilizer depend on plant age and use of mulches which consume nitrogen as they decompose. (See

Observe plants to guide fertilizing practices. If shoot growth is poor, give plants the maximum recommended amount of fertilizer.

Blueberries put on new canes each year. Individual canes fruit when they are 1 year old and produce well for three or four years. After five years, berry production falls off dramatically.

Beginning the third year after planting, prune your blueberries during the dormant season (January through March).

1. Remove broken or diseased branches and those low to the ground.

2. Remove canes 6 years of age or older which can be recognized by their thick diameter, twiggy tips and presence of lichens.

3. Remove all but two or three of the new canes formed the previous summer. Keep those that are strong and well placed around the bush.

Removal of older canes encourages growth of new canes. Therefore, a regular pruning regimen is necessary for good blueberry production.


Jeanette Stehr-Green is a Washington State University-certified, Clallam County Master Gardener.