Blueberry bushes can be grown in a raised bed provided it gets full sun, is at least 2 feet (60 cm) deep, and the soil within it has a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. These plants can get fairly large, so allow at least 4 feet (1.2 m) of space between plants and 8 feet (2.4 m) between rows. Water twice a week for 15 minutes with a soaker hose, totaling 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. Stake your blueberry bushes to protect roots from destabilization caused by high winds and intense weather conditions. You will be able to harvest blueberries in the summer when they are bright blue and practically fall off the bush.
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6 Steps to Grow Blueberries in a Raised Bed
As with most plants, blueberries have specific soil requirements, water needs, and some special care. However, you can use a raised bed to provide your blueberries with everything they need. We will cover all the necessary details of blueberry cultivation, including what tools you need and how to use them, below.
Position Your Blueberry Bed
Construct your raised bed where your blueberry plants will get full sunlight 6–8 hours per day. Blueberry bushes can tolerate partial shade, but it will negatively impact harvest yield and berry flavor. Blueberries need a raised bed with a depth of 2–3 feet (60–90 cm).
- Place your raised bed where plants will receive 6–8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Blueberries are tolerant of partial shade, but it can reduce berry yield and affect flavor.
- Blueberries require a raised bed 2–3 feet deep (60–90 cm).
- Blueberry bushes can grow up to 6 ft (1.8 m) wide, so be sure your bed is large enough to accommodate their growth.
The width and length of your raised bed will ultimately depend on which blueberry variety you intend to grow, as well as how many plants you want. As a rule, blueberry bushes require 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) between plants, so you will need a fairly large raised bed if you want to grow multiple blueberry bushes. When considering where to establish a raised bed, keep in mind how much space and sunlight these plants need to succeed.
Prepare Your Soil for Blueberries
A common mistake when growing blueberries is planting them in soil with a high pH. Blueberry bushes need acidic soil with a low pH between 4.5 and 5.5. For tips on improving your soil, follow our guide to making soil acidic for blueberries. We recommend testing your soil and mixing additives in to achieve the correct pH. Blueberries also need well-draining, sandy, or loamy soil for the best results.
- Soil pH must be acidic, between 4.5 and 5.5.
- You can lower the pH by mixing granulated sulfur into the soil several months before planting.
- Blueberries need loose, well-draining soil with a loamy texture.
- Incorporate organic matter, such as this decayed pine bark, into your soil to fuel blueberry growth.
- Nitrogen is a vital component of growing blueberries, so use this nitrogen-rich fertilizer to improve the soil for your plants.
Prior to planting, use a soil testing kit to determine if your raised bed is the ideal setting for blueberries. You can also use a pH meter to keep track of the soil’s acidity throughout the year. Since blueberries require a lot of nitrogen, it pays to mix fertilizer into the soil prior to planting. For more on when to fertilize blueberry plants, check out our detailed article on the subject.
Plant Your Blueberry Bushes
Blueberries can be planted in the fall or the spring, depending on how cold the winters are where you live. Determine the layout of your plants within the raised bed prior to planting. Plants should be spaced 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) apart in rows. Individual rows should have 8 feet (2.4 m) between them. You should also space blueberries at least 3 feet (90 cm) from the sides and ends of the bed.
- Plant your blueberries in the fall in most climates.
- If winters are harsh where you live, plant your blueberries in spring.
- Plant blueberries in rows with 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) between plants.
- Allow 8 feet (2.4 m) between rows of blueberries.
- Make sure blueberry plants are at least 3 feet (90 cm) from all sides of the raised bed.
- For planting, dig holes 2 feet deep (60 cm) and 18 inches wide (45 cm).
- Mulch the blueberries with bark, pine needle straw, or sawdust from any tree with the exception of redwood, cedar, and black walnut.
Blueberry planting holes should be 24 inches (60 cm) deep and 18 inches (45 cm) wide. Be sure the depth of each hole is deeper than the length of the roots of your young blueberry bush. After planting, mulch the surface of the soil with sawdust, wood chips, or bark.
Provide Adequate Water
Using a soaker hose, water your blueberry plants in 30–45-minute sessions. Before fruit sets, 1–2 weekly waterings is sufficient. Once fruit appears, water 3–4 times weekly. Without sufficient water, your blueberry bushes are vulnerable to drought injury. To learn the signs of overwatered and underwatered blueberries, read our complete blueberry watering guide.
- Established blueberry bushes require 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of water each week.
- Use this soaker hose to water the base of your bushes
- Water your bushes deeply with 30–45 minutes of soaker hose irrigation 1–2 times per week.
- Double your watering to 4 inches (10 cm) weekly once fruit begins to appear on the bushes. This can be done with 3–4 weekly watering sessions.
- Keep the soil around freshly planted bushes moist without letting standing water accumulate.
Blueberry bushes need 1–4 inches (2.5–10 cm) of water weekly. Throughout most of the year, 1–2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of water each week is ideal. However, you will need to increase your weekly watering amount to 4 inches (10 cm) when fruit sets, which is when flower petals fall and you see small blueberries forming.
Stake Your Blueberries for Support
If you live in an area that is prone to high winds or extreme weather, stake your blueberry bushes. Without staking, the bushes in your bed can be damaged by wind. This prevents them from forming the secure root systems that they need to thrive. Use stakes that are 24 inches (60 cm) taller than your bushes and be sure to hammer them 12 inches (30 cm) into the soil to provide support.
- Stake your blueberry bushes to prevent damage from wind and weather.
- Use three garden stakes in a triangle formation around each plant, keeping stakes 8 inches (20 cm) from the farthest-reaching branches of your plants
- Stakes should be 2 feet (60 cm) taller than the bushes and driven into the ground to a depth of 1 foot (30 cm).
- Tie lengths of clothesline to your stakes—they will be used to wrap around your plant and tied back to the stake.
- Loosely loop one end of the line around the thickest center stem of the plant and tie the end to the same stake where it began.
Form a triangle around each plant with three stakes 8 inches (20 cm) from the outside edges of the bush. Tie clothesline to each stake and loop it loosely around the sturdiest stem at the center of the bush. Then, tie the loose end of the string to the stake, completing the loop. Repeat for the next two stakes. This will protect your blueberry bushes from all angles.
Pick and Enjoy Your Blueberries
Blueberries are typically ready to harvest in the summer between June and August. The best time of day to pick blueberries is in the morning, to reduce the chance of heat stress on the fruit. You can tell berries are ripe when they are plump, blue, and practically fall off the stems. If you encounter resistance when you try to pluck berries, they are not yet ready for harvest.
- Blueberries produce ripe fruit from June through August
- Harvest blueberries in the morning to prevent picking heat-stressed berries.
- Ripe blueberries are plump, deep blue, and fall off the vine when you go to pick them.
- Blueberry bushes will continue to produce more fruit each year if cared for properly.
Blueberry bushes will yield more fruit as they age. The first year or two may yield less than 1 pound (0.5 kg) of blueberries each season. Be patient with the young plants. You can expect upwards of 2 pounds (1 kg) of berries per plant by their third year.
Do Blueberries Grow Well in Raised Beds?
Growing blueberry bushes in a raised bed can be a recipe for success when done correctly. Because blueberries need acidic soil with a high concentration of organic matter, cultivating in a raised bed is great for adjusting soil contents to get the right environment for your plants. This method of growing is also ideal for creating trellises and staking bushes, since you will have the added support of the bed.
Protecting Blueberries From Animals and Frost
You may notice critters such as birds or squirrels hanging around your blueberry plants. To deter pests from eating all of your berries, try one of our solutions found in this article. Another threat to your harvest is frost. Protecting blueberries from frost can take many forms, such as wrapping, mulching, covering, or adding a source of heat. More details on shielding blueberries from frost can be found in our article here.
Can You Grow Blueberries in a Raised Bed?
You can grow blueberry bushes in a raised bed as long as the right conditions are met. Just follow these steps:
- Construct a 2–3 foot (60–90 cm) tall raised bed in a place where plants will receive 6–8 hours of sunlight every day.
- Fill your bed with acidic soil mix and add soil amendments until the pH is between 4.5 and 5.5.
- Plant blueberry plants in rows with 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) between plants.
- Use a soaker hose to water plants 1–2 times per week before fruit sets. Then, increase watering to 3–4 times per week once the first blueberries appear.
- Stake your blueberry bushes with clothesline and garden stakes to encourage healthy root growth.
- Harvest blueberries in the summer when they are blue and readily fall off the vine.
With our 6 essential steps to growing blueberries in a raised bed, you will be able to grow plants of your own and reap the reward of delicious blueberries.