I want to be successful at growing blueberries

Will be ordering some blueberry cuttings and want to learn all the dos and don’t about growing them. I will be planting them in raised beds so I can put just about anything as far as dirt in them. What I have now is topsoil with rotted down oak sawdust in it .(heavy on the rotted oak sawdust ) . I have not tested the PH of it yet so as of now I can’t tell you what it is. I know the wild ones around here grow in very sandy soil so don’t know if this mixture will work or not. Being these will be just cuttings I will start them in pots at first then transplant them out in the beds. Any one experienced in growing blueberries please chime in with any advice on getting started .

1 Like

Are they dormant Northern Highush cuttings?
Yes,pH of the soil and irrigation water will be important.Adding Peat moss will help there.
I use misting and fog beds to start mine,but some kind of cover that will help keep the moisture in and primarily,the leaves coated with a film of water,until roots are forming,is the biggest thing and maybe the most difficult step. Brady


If I understand things right the cuttings already have roots on them .

1 Like

That’s much better. Brady

This is what I do since my soil is alkaline. I don’t live in US others might be of better help (especially with the products you can get).
I use plastic bowls that are used for mixing concrete (I got 18gallon ones but whatever you can get, probably anything up to 25). Those are cheap and you can probably get them in any Lowes/Home Depot. I make several holes at the bottom for drainage, dig a big hole in the ground and put them in all the way to top so the bowls are not visible. Then I buy 75 liter bags of peat moss (or any acidic substrate, whatever they are called in US) and fill them up. Then just plant your blueberries and change peat moss every 3-5 years when your plants are dormant. I also use fertilizer for blueberries every now and then. If you use peat moss in a normal soil the peat moss pH will eventually even up with surrounding soil. Plants will struggle like that and eventually die (I tried that before)
If you have acidic soil, you can forget about all this.


1 Like

If you have the wild blueberries growing around in sandy soil you can just use this soil in you bed. It will be the most simple solution. PH check is still necessary, especially for your water.

the pots you refer to being black may cause some overheating issues in some locations, painting them a lighter color would solve that problem though. I like the idea but have not seen round ones in my area.

1 Like

@Paul has a nice idea. I wish I thought of it when I first planted blueberries several years ago.

@Antmary, Maria’s caution is so true. My town’s well water is so alkaline. I planted blueberries in pure peat moss, added sulfur, fertilized with acidic fertilizer, etc. I don’t have enough rain water to water the plans. Had to use mostly the town’s well water.

The plants grew but not really took off so I gave up on growing them after 5 years. Maybe, I would try them again in pots.

1 Like

I had to pH adjust my irrigation water with about 1.5 tbsp. of distilled white vinegar per gallon of well water.

I’ve been thinking about this, but my soil doesn’t conduct water well. I would have to put them on slope and make a drain. Else, they would hold water. Right now I have to stick my potted plants in the ground for winter and pull them out in the spring. I’m afraid the roots will get freeze damage if I don’t. It got down to -28ºC the previous 3 winters. It would be nice if I could just leave them in the ground permanently.

We had a big problem when we put a lot of rotted oak sawdust in the planting holes of our first blueberies. The blueberries did not grow well and we could not understand why until we had the PH of the rotted sawdust tested. The PH was in the upper 6’s. It took several applications of sulfer to get the PH back down. Our native soil was about 5.5 without the oak sawdust. We now use a combination of peat moss and ground pine bark to add organic matter and lower PH


Sunshine Blue blueberries tolerate a higher ph. I just ordered one. I have Jam Session and Northcountry, and it’s a pain. If I can’t succeed with all them by the end of the year, I’m giving up. Here we plant lots of Serviceberries outside. I like them, but my wife doesn’t like them for their tartness and just likes blueberries.

1 Like

Thanks everyone so far . It sounds like blueberries are super sensitive to the right PH . Planting them in peat at first would not be a problem if it normally has the right PH to begin with and work on the soil where they will be permanently planted . I can get soil from where they grow wild but we are talking sand as in beach like sand . I don’t know how they even survive in sand like that as it dries out so fast . Was hoping to come up with something with much more organic matter that would hold water better .

This is my setup, or not exactly mine. I was advised this several years ago by another grower I went to visit. He has been doing this for many years.
The pots are in-ground so you don’t have to worry about freeze damage. Containers are filled 100% with peat moss (usually 1x80 liter bag per pot). The cloth and stones are something extra to please the eye of my wife :slight_smile: I am sure it will work in your conditions just fine. You can see the edge of one of the pots on the first picture (I removed the pebbles)


If you dont have acidic soil locally I would find something friendlier to grow. I have been struggling with blueberries for 5 year now and while they are alive and grow a bit, constant PH issues are a real pain. Im growing in buried containers with peat/pine bark mix and adding acid fertilizer and also some sulfur once a year. Im sure you can get them to work, and if you find a fool proof method please post it, Im just not super keen on blueberries due to the experiences I have had.


Yeah, I’ve struggled with the pH of my native soil. You definitely want to get the pH right before planting. Else, it will be a real struggle to get it down without harming the plants.

I noticed that the large plants cope with pH issues a little better. I now grow all my blueberries in pots for the first few years. It is better for the young plants to control pH and nitrogen by treating regular irrigation water. When the plants outgrow the pots, I move them into the ground. They seem to thrive better at this stage.


I have been facing the same issues. I have always suggested raised beds versus trying to amend the native soil. It can work, but you see in this thread how hard it is to maintain.

Chris, I was just near you house this weekend, well not that close, I was in Kalkaska, and Cheboygan. You may live in a part of the state where the ground is acidic, I would get it tested. University of Wisconsin, I think? has super cheap testing. I know one of the universities does, like 15 bucks or something? MSU I think charges 30 bucks.
If you go with raised beds. I would just use Peat, pine bark which you can find as a soil amendment, or as a mulch, but not the thick large chips. Many private nurseries carry this. It’s worth finding, or if you run the big pine bark mulch through a chipper, there you go! I have a leaf blower that reverses to bag leaves, mine has a metal impeller and it sounds awful but makes bark the perfect size, about 1/4 inch or less.
Now I mostly use a mulch that is mostly powder already. A little too much so, but it’s still pine bark!

I just got a couple blueberry plants. I put them outside right now in containers. They will be planted later this spring. One is going in a new raised bed. Pine bark and peat have a low enough pH to put right in from the get go. As long as you don’t use tap water, they will be fine. Sulfuric (battery) acid is the best product to acidify water. using vinegar is short term, and works fine for container culture if you water till it runs out, as you flush the carbonates out. The problem with vinegar in ground is the carbonates converted by the vinegar, will soon reappear once bacteria break down the organic acidic acid in vinegar. You have to add more and more vinegar to maintain the pH. Some have seen this others for whatever reason have not…yet! Sulfuric acid converts the carbonate material to gypsum, which is stable, and pH neutral. They are gone for all practical purposes, even supplying calcium to your plants, without a pH issue.

Here is a new plant I will put in

This is a different plant, but it was the same size as the above photo when I put it in the ground last spring. I just went out and took a picture, still dormant. This will be the first full growing season, and is 2nd leaf in the ground. If your plant does not grow this much, you have a pH issue, or could have. I know everybody has their own ways, as do I, but here are my results.

I usually use pine straw, but was short last year, and bummed I could not get more in Kalkaska, as the ground was covered with snow. I had extra straw, so used it. A lot is on there because it is surrounded by strawberries, and they are buried for winter protection. Hard to see but you can see the plant grew 2 to 3 times it’s size in first year.

My mix in containers, or in raised beds is usually 2 parts pine fines, 1 part peat, and 1/3 part diatomaceous earth (Napa floor dry or Optisorb from O’Reilly’s auto part). You can see the DE in the new plant’s pot mix for this year. This mix from day one has a pH of about 5.0.


I have a trench that I dug in the ground, about 10 feet long, 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep. I put logs on the bottom for drainage, and plastic sheeting around the walls, pit moss with pine bark inside. 6 blueberry bushes are growing there. I add 1-2 bags of pit moss each year, soil acidifier and acidic fertilizer, also a lot of coarse oak leaves as mulch. I so far did not need to water them additionally to rainfall, which is good because we have very alkaline water. So far they grew well and last summer I had a decent harvest of blueberries. Here they are under the net, not really much to see.


I’ve had tremendous blueberry success by injecting vinegar into my drip irrigation using a Dosatron. Helps keep ph low constantly without the need to keep adding acidic amendments. Just need to remember to refill bucket with ag-grade white vinegar a couple times a year.


[quote=“rsivulka, post:12, topic:9822, full:true”]
Sunshine Blue blueberries tolerate a higher ph. I just ordered one. I have Jam Session and Northcountry, and it’s a pain. If I can’t succeed with all them by the end of the year, I’m giving up. Here we plant lots of Serviceberries outside. I like them, but my wife doesn’t like them for their tartness and just likes blueberries.
[/quote]I find “northland” and Spartan to be the two toughest cold hardy blueberries that I grow. Brightwell is a not so cold hardy one that is very though. It is cold hardy zone 6b - 10a.

1 Like