Grumpy Gardener's Guide to Blueberries

Grumpy Gardener Steve Bender shares tips and tricks on how to plant and care for one of the South's favorite plants.


[MUSIC] And now, the grumpy gardener. Hi, I'm Steve Bender. I'm Southern Living's grumpy gardener. [SOUND] Do you love blueberries? Cuz if you don't, I'm here to tell you, you have a serious, emotional problem. A lot of people say they have problems growing fruit in their home gardens. But you know what, blueberries are very, very easy and they are so, so great to eat. They are native to the South, so they're adaptive to our climate. Not only are they good for producing fruit, but they're a very ornamental plant. I mean, if you've ever seen a group of blueberry bushes in the fall, real late in the fall, the foliage all turns this just bright, bright scarlet and crimson, and they're beautiful. So even if you never got a berry from them, you'd want to have blueberry bushes in your yard. There are two main classes of blueberries. One is called northern highbush. The other one is called rabbit-eye. Northern highbush, is for people who live, let's say from Virginia north, because those berries do better where the summers are a little shorter and cooler. If you live from the Carolinas south, you're gonna wanna grow the class called rabbit-eyes. In order to get a good crop of blueberries, you have to have more than one variety. If you only plant one, you might get a few berries, but if you plant two, and you get cross pollination. You're gonna get a lot bigger crop. What do blueberries need to grow? They like acid soil, only they like it even more acid than can, than azaleas. They like to have well drained soil. They don't like it to be a place where water stands. When you plant your blueberries, be very sure that you don't plant them too deeply. Plant them so the top of the root ball is just slightly above the soil surface and then mulch over the top. You need to plant them in as much sun as you can. The reason is very simple. The leaves will take the sunlight, the energy from the sunlight. They convert that into sugars that go into the berries. The more sun your plants get, the bigger a crop you're gonna get, and the sweeter the berries you're gonna get. Practically everybody and everything in the world likes blueberries as much as you. When I have blueberries at my house, and the bushes have fruit on them. I've seen as many as six different species of birds in there, robbing all my berries. I never get to eat anything. Not only will the birds come for your berries. But I have a son who loves blueberries. And he would go out and check the bushes every single morning, and see. Which three blueberries had ripened that morning and he would rob them. And so I'd have blueberries for five years, and I never got to have a single berry. And I'm really hot about it. So what you need to do, is convince all your neighbors, all plant three or four blueberry bushes. Then the birds will all be spread out. Your kid will probably you know, rob your neighbors bushes. And you can enjoy quarts of blueberries in your bedroom behind locked doors in the morning. You can find out everything you need to know about southern gardening, Southern Living Magazine at
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