Blueberries have become a staple for many Australian households, however they can be quiet expensive. This is why many people are starting to investigate just how easy it is to grow your own blueberries at home. Blueberries are a real hit amongst kids, and if you have a few bushes you will be getting a pretty good harvest.
In the Perth climate, Blueberries are best grown in part sun with protection from the hot afternoon sun and winds. Morning sun or a light dappled shady area is ideal.
When to plant blueberries:
Blueberries are self-pollinating, however they will produce much more fruit if you grow a couple of different varieties next to one another. There are some big blueberry plantations around Western Australian now so the availability of varieties is ever increasing.
Blueberries can be grown successfully either in a large pot or in the ground. Having free draining soil is essential so they do not become waterlogged. They have a fine, fibrous root system that needs a well aerated soil to grow in. They are accustomed to a lower pH soil, between 5.5 and 6.5 is good. Azalea potting mix is an easy way to achieve this in your home garden.
Mulching is recommended to prevent weeds and help retain water. Plants need to be watered thoroughly several time a week during fruiting season and in warm weather which is common in Perth. Less water during the other parts of the year is fine.
A small amount of Azalea fertiliser added regularly throughout the year will be beneficial to the plants.
Best fertiliser for blueberries:
Using the right fertiliser for blueberries can directly improve your berry production. For disease and insect free blueberry bushes with bigger and tasty fruits, feeding your blueberry bush a blueberry fertiliser is a must.
Now the question; what is the best fertiliser for blueberries?
Blueberries are acid-loving plants. So, the acid fertilisers are the best for blueberries that have a balanced ratio of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and other nutrients. Fruit and berry fertiliser can readily found at your local nursery or Bunnings.
My personal pick for the best is Yates Thrive Strawberry and Berry Concentrate, it provides the balanced nutrition they need to produce juicy, luscious berries and healthy green foliage.
When to fertilise blueberries?
Early spring is the best time to fertilise blueberries. Spring is the time when the new growth of the blueberries appears. So, they need fertiliser at that time and stop feeding a few weeks before the frost comes in winter. Also, you can fertilise your blueberries if you notice any nutritional deficiency signs on your plants.
How often fertilise blueberries?
Actually, the answer is not fixed. It depends on the type of fertiliser you purchase. Generally, water-soluble fertiliser feeds the plant quickly and you will need to apply it more frequently. In contrast,slow-release fertiliser feeds the plant slowly up to a few months. Best to check the label of the fertiliser and follow application schedule.
Perth blueberry varieties:
- Blue Rose blueberry – Produces large berries mid-season. Taller growing variety, up to 2m high. Prune well.
- Burst blueberry – Australian bred compact variety growing to 1 m high. Produces very large fruit early in the season. Suitable for coastal areas as well as the general Perth area. Heavy cropper.
- Climax blueberry – Medium sized fruit early in the season. Suitable for more coastal areas as well as the general Perth area.
- Legacy blueberry – Produces medium sized fruit, mid-season. Suitable for coastal areas. Vigorous and upright growing.
- Northland blueberry – Tolerant to extremes of heat and cold. Long harvest period from December – March.
- Northern Highbush blueberry – These varieties are usually deciduous. Perth doesn’t have enough chill hours to grow these varieties, although some areas of the South West of the state are very suitable for these varieties.
- Rabbiteye blueberry – These are late season varieties with a lower chilling requirement than Northern Highbush. They are tolerant of a wide climate range making them a resilient choice.
- Sunshine Blue blueberry – Compact growing variety producing high yields early in the season. Suitable for coastal areas as well as the general Perth area.
- Southern Highbush blueberry – They produce a quality berry and are suitable for Perth’s climate, tolerating the heat of summer very well. They are usually evergreen varieties and retain leaves all year round.
Care and common problems with blueberries;
Blueberries require sunlight to set fruit. More sun equals more berries. But they also need to be protected from strong winds to avoid them blowing off the bush.
When to harvest blueberries:
Bird netting is essential during fruiting season to keep the them from your precious crop. After around 4 years, a healthy plant will produce 3kg of fruit or more. Fruit takes approximately 6 weeks to ripen. Fruit is ripe when it is entirely blue in colour. Ripe blueberries will come off the plant very easily.
How to store blueberries:
It is best to store your blueberries in the fridge and wash just prior to eating. Fresh blueberries are delicate and very perishable. In the fridge blueberries will last around 10 days.
Check out how to grow other berries in Perth: