11 Reasons You Should Be Landscaping With Blueberry Shrubs
Are you thinking of adding some blueberry shrubs to your home or garden landscape, but aren't quite sure where to start? "Foodscaping" is quite popular, especially for gardeners that are looking to conserve a little space. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen walks through how to successfully add blueberries to your home or garden landscape with style.
When you think of blueberries, you may think of a seasonal grocery item: sweet, little, round, blue fruits. Blueberry fruits grow on woody shrubs ranging in size from less than one foot tall to a whopping twelve feet tall.
If you have a sunny spot in your yard, you can grow a blueberry bush. Not only are blueberries simply a delicious fruit, but they are also attractive flowering shrubs that you can use in any home landscape!
How you decide to use them in your landscape or garden design is really up to you. Whether you are looking for some red leaves during fall foliage, or you are looking to add an edible hedge to your yard, you’ll see plenty of benefits when you add these shrubs to your garden. Let’s take a deeper look at 11 different reasons why blueberries are a must-plant shrub.
An Edible Landscape
This is my personal favorite reason to grow blueberries. Rather than planting shrubs that are purely ornamental, blueberries are both ornamental and also functional. Blueberries are one of the easiest fruiting plants to grow in a wide variety of climates.
I can go outside during the fruiting season and gather a handful (or two, or three!) of berries to eat as a snack. You can also grow herbs, such as basil or thyme, as companion plants around your blueberry bushes.
If you have an interest in gardening for wildlife and attracting a variety of animals and insects to your yard, blueberries are an excellent choice! Blueberry flowers attract numerous pollinators! These pollinators will in turn help your plant produce the best fruits.
Blueberry fruits are eaten not only hungry humans, but also birds and other herbivorous wildlife. So, be prepared to share some of your fruits with the birds. Gray Catbirds and other fruit-eating birds love blueberries and it can be quite enjoyable watching them forage for a tasty snack. You may have to protect your shrubs from the bird population if they get a little overzealous in your garden!
Blueberry flowers attract many pollinators, especially bees. The bees are necessary for cross pollination and your plants will benefit from these pollinators and grow bigger and better fruits.
It’s a Beautiful Accent Shrub
Do you have a yard with many plants all of the same height? Perhaps you want something a little larger, but not as big as a tree? If that’s the case, try adding a blueberry bush.
Blueberries come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose a size that fits your needs. In mid-summer, you can enjoy beautiful and tasty clusters of ripening berries, and in the fall, you can enjoy the colorful fall foliage.
They Grow Well as Cluster Plants
Blueberries grow well with a few blueberry friends nearby. Try growing a couple of different varieties in a cluster rather than at opposite ends of your yard.
Fruits grown on plants that have been cross-pollinated tend to be both larger and more abundant than fruits grown on an isolated self-pollinated plant. Some varieties of blueberry need to be cross-pollinated with another variety of blueberry in order to produce fruit.
Create Beautiful Hedgerows
If you have a sunny spot that needs a hedgerow, blueberry bushes can serve this purpose. There are blueberry varieties that stay low, some that are medium height, and others that grow quite tall, so you can choose the height of your hedgerow.
If planted close together, they can appear quite dense, but if you leave ample space between bushes, they will receive more sun, be able to grow fuller, and therefore also produce more fruits.
Great For Borders & Edges
Blueberries make an attractive shrub for edges. They do prefer open sunny areas, so planting at the edge of a cluster of trees isn’t ideal.
You can, however, use them to border a sunny garden, yard, or driveway. Adding them to a walkway can add some striking red foliage in the fall when the leaves turn red.
They Have Beautiful Fall Foliage
Did you know that the leaves on a blueberry plant turn bright pinkish-red in the fall? For most of the growing season, the leaves are nice and green. During fruiting season, you will have a bush covered with green leaves and clusters of ripening berries.
And in the fall, the leaves change from green to red. If you already have trees with colorful fall foliage, try adding blueberries for a burst of color at shrub-height.
They Grow Well in Containers
Container gardening allows a home gardener to grow a variety of plants with the versatility of containers. All you need is a sunny spot and a pot full of good acidic soil. Fortunately, the smaller varieties of blueberries grow well in containers.
Many people find that it’s a lot of work to choose an ideal spot and prepare the in-ground soil to grow a blueberry bush. For container gardening, you can easily buy specially formulated soil for acid-loving plants, or you can mix your own. If growing in containers, be sure to keep your plants watered because containers can dry out quickly.
They Can Be Planted Anywhere
If you have a large, open, sunny, grassy area, you may have an ideal spot to plant several blueberry bushes. As always, be sure to prepare the soil well in advance of planting. After planting, you will want to be sure to keep grass and weeds away from your blueberry plants to avoid competition.
While open and sunny areas are ideal, they can be grown almost anywhere. As long as they aren’t fully shaded out, they can tolerate many different soil types, making them great for areas that other pickier plants may not grow.
They Make Great Shrub Gardens
If you have a large area that you’d like to landscape with shrubs, consider adding a blueberry plant or two. Blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias are all shrubs that like acidic soil.
These plants will all compliment each other nicely with different sizes, forms, colors and textures. Give the blueberry plant a spot with full sun.
There Are Many Varieties
As you start thinking about adding blueberries to your landscape, consider which variety will grow best in your climate zone. If there are multiple varieties you can grow, select the variety that best suits your needs in terms of size and growth habits.
Some plants are best adapted to northern climates, others do well in warmer zones. Some plants are low and compact, while others grow quite tall.
Lowbush are the smallest variety of blueberry bushes. They may stay very small and reach no higher an 1 foot tall, or they may grow up to 1.5 to 2 feet tall. These plants are best adapted to cooler climates, USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 7.
The Northern Highbush Blueberry tends to be a medium to large sized shrub, reaching from 6 to 12 feet tall. These do best in cooler to mild climates, USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7.
The Southern Highbush Blueberry is a small to medium sized shrub. They typically stay between 2 and 4 feet tall. These plants are best adapted to the warmer climates of the central and southeastern United States, USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10.
Rabbiteye Blueberries are fairly tall plants, growing to between 6 and 10 feet tall. They do well in warmer climates, USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9, which includes the central and southeastern United States.
These plants are well-adapted to colder climates. They can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 5, from the northern United States into Canada. These plants stay fairly small to medium sized, growing from 3 to 4 feet tall.
Blueberries are attractive deciduous shrubs. There are many advantages to including blueberries in your home landscape. They can grow an abundance of delicious fruits that people and wildlife enjoy. Blueberries have pretty fall foliage and can be grown with other acid-loving plants.
They can be planted individually or as part of a group. However you decide to use blueberries in your landscape, be sure to give them the best environment you can, and they will reward you with their own unique beauty, and blueberries!