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Growing blueberries in the home garden

Quick facts about growing blueberries

  • Blueberries need full sun
  • Blueberries require acidic soil
  • Plant two or more varieties for successful pollination
  • Plants won't have much fruit the first 2 to 3 years
  • Harvest is bigger after 5 years
  • Blueberry plants grow slowly and reach full size in 8 to 10 years
  • Each winter, prune out old, weak and dead wood

Many blueberry varieties grown in the Upper Midwest were bred for this climate by the University of Minnesota, making them right at home in the Minnesota home garden.

colorful blueberry bush in autumn
Blueberry leaves turn stunning shades of crimson and orange in autumn.

Blueberry plants grow slowly, and they may not seem to get much bigger from year to year. It takes a blueberry bush about 10 years to reach mature size, but this also means they will live a long, long time.

It will be 2 or 3 years before you start getting large harvests, but it is definitely worth the wait. The bushes are very attractive and will be a beautiful addition to your yard while you wait for fruit.

Care through the seasons

  • March—Prune bushes before new growth begins, after coldest weather has passed
  • April, May—Plant new blueberry bushes
  • May, June—Apply mulch for growing season
  • July—Harvest
  • July through September—Apply soil amendments
  • September, October—Apply mulch for winter protection and enjoy fall color
  • November, December—Put fencing around plants to keep out rabbits

Preparing to plant

Blueberry plants require acidic soil (pH 4.0 to 5.0) that is well-drained, loose and high in organic matter. Most garden soils in Minnesota have higher pH and must be amended.

If pH is too high 

  • Growth of the plant is slowed
  • Leaves discolor
  • Plants may die
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Selecting plants

Blueberry plants are widely available at local and online nurseries. Be certain the plants you buy are winter hardy to your USDA zone (zone 3 or 4 in Minnesota).

If buying plants locally, find potted plants that are at least two or three years old.

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Planting

Blueberries grow best in full sun. Plants will tolerate partial shade, but too much shade causes plants to produce fewer blossoms and less fruit.

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How to keep your blueberry bushes healthy and productive

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Emily S. Tepe, horticultural science researcher; Emily E. Hoover, Extension horticulturalist and James Luby, professor of horticultural science

Reviewed in 2018

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