recommended varieties and culture
Blueberries are excellent plants for the home gardener, providing not only delicious fruit, but plants that have outstanding ornamental value as well. In fall and winter, the leaves and the bark of the young branches turn glowing shades of yellows and reds. For more detailed information on any blueberry variety, please refer to individual plant signs or consult one of our nursery professionals.
PLANTING, CARE & PRUNING OF BLUEBERRIES
CHOOSING THE PLANTS
CHOOSE YOUR VARIETIES from our list according to height or fruiting time.
PLANTING 2 VARIETIES will help produce better pollination than just one variety.
HARVEST can occur from July through October depending on variety. All varieties have their relative ripening times listed with their descriptions.
SOIL PREPARATION & PLANTING
CHOOSE A LOCATION that receives full sun in well-drained, acidic soils high in organic matter.
SPACE the Highbush varieties about 6 feet apart or 4 feet apart if used as a hedge. Half-high types can be spaced about 4 feet apart.
DIG THE HOLE approximately one foot deep, incorporating fine bark, compost or peat moss.
PLANT THE BUSH so the crown of the plant remains just above the soil.
WATER DEEPLY because blueberries are not very drought tolerant
WATERING & FERTILIZATION
WATER THE PLANTS deeply to avoid heat stress and to help produce the best fruit.
FERTILIZE in mid-March with a product for acid-loving plants such as rhododendron and azalea fertilizer.
PRUNING YOUNG PLANTS or newly transplanted plants is not recommended. It is best to let them become established for about 3 years before any pruning is done.
THE GOAL OF PRUNING once plants do become established is to promote the growth of strong new wood, facilitating good fruit production on 2-3 year old canes. Cut out broken canes and a few older and less productive canes each year. Severe pruning is not necessary. To keep plants fully productive, try to have no canes over 6 years old on the bush.
DISEASE & PEST CONTROL
THE BEST DEFENSE against pests and diseases is to provide the plants with optimum soil conditions, deep moisture, and plant in the right location. Blueberries are relatively easy care and can provide years of productive harvests and ornamental beauty.
GOOD GARDEN HYGIENE is also important. Use sharp, clean pruners to prevent damage and the spread of disease from other plants. Clean up dead leaves beneath plants during winter to help eliminate any pests trying to overwinter there or the spread of disease.
SWANSONS FAVORITE BLUEBERRY VARIETIES
Highbush varieties are the most common type of blueberries grown in the Northwest. They are the tallest growing types of blueberries (5–8 feet tall), and they yield large, classically flavored fruit.
Very popular variety with large, light blue, firm and flavorful fruit that sweetens when completely ripe. Berries ready mid-July through August. Autumn foliage is yellow, orange and red. New wood is red, providing good winter color.
CHANDLER Late Midseason
Very large, sweet, firm berries. Longest ripening season (over 4 weeks in late July-August) of any blueberry variety. A new release from the USDA.
A Giant! The largest berries of any cultivar, some reaching half-dollar size. Ripening in August, light blue berries have a delightful, robust flavor. Vigorous shrub, growing up to 5-6 feet high.
Large, medium blue berries with good flavor. Ripen in early July. Upright bushes have a slightly spreading habit. Autumn foliage is yellow, orange and red. The new wood is red in winter.
SOUTHERN HIGHBUSH VARIETIES
Southern Highbush varieties offer Northwest gardeners such characteristics as semi-evergreen foliage and more colorful bloom while producing tasty fruit. These varieties are self-fertile but bigger yields of higher quality fruit occur with a second variety nearby. They typically grow 3-5 feet tall.
SUNSHINE BLUE Midseason
Dime-sized berries with delicious, unique, tangy flavor for up to 9 weeks in the summer. Showy, hot pink flowers fade to white in spring. Semi-dwarf evergreen, compact habit to 3 feet high. Tolerates more alkaline soils than most varieties.
Halfhigh blueberries are hybrids of common highbush blueberries and another delicious type of blueberries called lowbush. Plants result that are shorter in stature and yield smaller berries, but their flavor is described as more wild and intense. These varieties are self-fertile but bigger yields of higher quality fruit happen with a second variety nearby. They typically grow 2–4 feet tall.
A newer release from the University of Minnesota. Large, light-blue berries of excellent “wild” flavor. Exceptionally hardy and compact, growing 3–4 feet tall and wide. Fall foliage is fiery red.
‘Polaris’ produces medium sized berries that are very sweet, aromatic and delicious. The plant has a compact and upright growth habit, and is extremely cold hardy. In fall the foliage turns bright red and orange.