How and When to Plant Blueberries in the UK

Ever wondered how and when to plant blueberries in the UK? Read on for some sweet tips and tricks.

12 April 2024

Whether in pies or muffins, jams or cereals, or simply fresh and raw, blueberries are beloved for their sweet zing. And their flavour is matched by their fortifying powers. Because these little juicy pods are prized as a superfood for their abundant vitamins and antioxidants.

That, along with the enchanting floral bells that bloom on their bushes make blueberries a popular addition to any garden. The question is just how to grow blueberries in the UK. And we’ve got some “berry” good answers.

Blueberry Varieties: A UK Perspective

Blueberries (Credit: Ross Woodhall via Getty Images)

Before getting down to the details of just how and when to plant blueberries in the UK, let’s look at the different types. Because there are quite a few out there, and the choice of variety impacts everything from the size and colour of the bushes and berries to the yield and the plant’s resilience.

The first priority though is suitability to the UK climate. Originally native to the US, blueberry bushes can generally be categorised as either highbush or lowbush. The most common is the northern highbush, which is well-suited to the UK’s temperate conditions, requiring a period of cold winter chill to thrive and typically ready for harvesting in mid to late summer.

Early varieties ready to harvest in early to mid July include Duke, Spartan, and Patriot. All three have large berries with mildly sweet, tangy sweet, and tangy flavour respectively. But there are plenty more. Berkeley is an example of a mid-season variety, while Pink Lemonade is unusual for its pink blueberries.

How to Grow Blueberries in the UK

Blueberries for breakfast (Credit: fcafotodigital via Getty Images)

It’s possible to grow blueberry bushes from seed or cuttings, but by far the easier and quicker method is to plant an existing bush. Let’s dig further into how this is done.

When to Plant Blueberries in the UK

Blueberry bushes (Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images)

In terms of when to grow blueberries in the UK, the window of opportunity is quite wide. In fact, it can be done pretty much any time as long as the weather isn’t too hot and dry or the ground frozen. But the best period for planting blueberries is in the dormant months of spring or autumn.

Groundwork: Preparing for Planting

Planting a blueberry bush (Credit: Helin Loik-Tomson via Getty Images)

The first step on the journey of how to grow blueberries in the UK is choosing the right planting site and preparing the soil. Blueberries demand well-drained, acidic soil with a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5. Soil acidity can be increased slightly, such as by adding sulphur chips. But for gardens with alkaline soil it’s best to plant using peat-free ericaceous soil or potting compost in raised beds or containers. As for planting location, these shrubs love to be in the sun, ideally shielded from harsh winds.

Cultivation Care: Ensuring Blueberry Bliss

Tending to blueberry plants (Credit: mixetto via Getty Images)

Once planted, blueberry bushes should be kept damp, but not waterlogged. They require regular watering, ideally with rain water as tap water tends to be alkaline. Potted blueberries run a higher risk of drying out. They’ll also need feeding about once a month with liquid feed.

Aside from regular upkeep, there are more sporadic steps in how to grow blueberries. Let’s look at them now, including when to repot blueberries in the UK, pest control, and when to prune blueberry bushes in the UK.

When to Repot Blueberries in the UK

Tray of blueberries (Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images)

As potted blueberry bushes grow, they may require repotting for more spacious containers. In deciding when to repot blueberries in the UK, a good guide is roughly every two years or when roots are visible in the pot’s base. This is ideally done in spring. It’s also advisable to remove and replace the top compost layer every autumn.

Pest Protection

Blueberries on a table (Credit: siniialex / 500px via Getty Images)

Blueberries are relatively pest and disease free. A fruit cage or netting can help deter birds, who are sometimes attracted to ripe berries. And the shrubs may need cover in particularly cold weather, especially in spring.

When to Prune Blueberry Bushes UK

A handful of blueberries (Credit: Indy via Getty Images)

It’s important to rid shrubs of damaged, dead, and diseased stems as well as maintaining a balance of new, middle-aged, and old ones. This is done through pruning. As a general rule of when to prune blueberry bushes in the UK, it’s unnecessary in the first two years. Once pruning begins, it’s important to be able to distinguish fat buds from flat ones, keeping the former and cutting the latter. This is easiest between late February and early March, but can be done any time between November and March.


Harvesting blueberries (Credit: Mint Images - Tim Robbins via Getty Images)

Blueberries are ready to harvest once they’re the right colour, usually a dark, powdery blue. The month in which this occurs depends on the variety, usually from mid-summer onwards, although even on the same plant different branches can mature at different rates.

Wrapping Up

Blueberries in a bowl (Credit: Flavia Morlachetti via Getty Images)

And so, we’ve explored each step of how to grow blueberries in the UK. Along the way, we’ve answered questions regarding where and when to grow blueberries in the UK as well as their subsequent upkeep, such as when to prune blueberry bushes in the UK. We hope you’ve found it fruitful.


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