UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners
University of California
UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners

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Planting Blueberries

 All blueberry varieties have a genetic need for winter chill to produce flowers and fruit.  Getting enough chill hours is vital to the production of fruit.  If the plant doesn't get sufficient chill, it can grow foliage, but little or no fruit. Locally, a variety with a lower Minumum Chill Requirement (MCR) will produce more fruit over the years than a variety with a higher MCR. Some years we get a colder winter that will allow even Northern blueberries to produce, but for better production select a plant with a lower MCR.

Orange County gets at least 300 chill hours per winter, so look for a variety that has an MCR around 300.  Chill hours can also be increased significantly by placing the plants (if they are in pots) in the shade for the winter.

You should have more than one low MCR bush for optimum production. The Southern Highbush type of blueberry varieties meets the minimum chill requirement.   

Your blueberry bush will want full sun. Blueberries need an acid soil, with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5, and the soil needs to drain well.  Blueberry roots are very sensitive to standing water so they need good surface and internal water drainage. Although a sandy soil is best for drainage, having a soil with a low pH is also very important. Without this correct pH, they are unable to take up the nutrients they need from the soil. Because our soils are not really suitable for growing blueberries, you may find it easier to grow your blueberry plants in pots

Blueberries are shallow-rooted, which means that the roots are near the soil surface. Both mulch and irrigation are essential for successful plants. Put mulch around the newly set plants soon after planting, being careful to keep it away from the central stem to avoid crown rot. Mulch keeps soil temperatures cooler during summer, reduces weeds, and maintains soil moisture. Blueberries are fairly pest-free, although you may have to protect the Blueberries from birds and other critters. 

Read more about blueberries 

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