Blueberry plants are a wonderful addition to your home garden and can be grown with relative ease and little fuss. In order for them to get a healthy start on life, be careful to place your blueberry plants in just the right type of soil.
Blueberry Plants Do Best in Acidic Soil
Blueberries like an acidic soil, in the range of pH 4.5 to 5.0. They also like soil that is well-drained, loamy soil, and soil that is amended and mulched with compost. Organic matter in the 4 to 7 percent range is recommended. Full sun is best.
If you need to increase the soil organic matter, you can do so with the addition of grass clippings, manure or leaves, according to soil test preparations by your local university extension offices. Do this one year before you plan to plant your blueberry bushes.
Blueberry Plants Need Soil Testing for pH
Soil that is somewhat limey needs to be amended to reduce the pH. If your planting area is limey, prepare your planting beds in the fall. Testing soil pH can determine how much and what type of amendments you need to add to reduce the soil pH. You might need extra granular sulfur to decrease the pH in high pH soils (soil pH above 4.5). Mix the material well through the top 4 inches of soil 3 months before you intend to plant your blueberry bushes. If you have clay soil, you can amend it with peat and sand that you dig in to improve drainage.
Let Beds Rest
Once you prepare the beds, let them rest over the winter. Testing soil pH again in the spring will help you determine if additional amendments are required. Experts recommend that you test your soil twice: once before you prepare the soil and acidification and once after you’ve added sulfur and fertilized. You can always adjust as necessary.
Organic Ways to Reduce pH
Use pine needles, pine bark and peat moss to organically reduce soil pH. Since some areas have high pH soil, you will probably need to continually add amendments to keep the soil to the acidic level that blueberry plants thrive in.
Another tip if you use peat moss: Keep it wet. If dry, the peat moss will draw moisture from the blueberry plants and your planting will not be successful.
Some gardeners report good success with fir sawdust that they pile around the base of the blueberry plants to a depth of about six inches. This helps to keep the soil acidic.