What to Consider When You Buy Blueberry Bushes

Northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) - deciduous shrub with delicious fruit

Maximize the fruit yield in your home garden by knowing how to buy blueberry bushes.

Select the Right Variety for Your Climate Zone

If you buy a blueberry bush that’s not right for your particular climate zone—say a variety suited to the northern U.S. when you live in Florida—you’ll be disappointed. Your plants either won’t grow, or they won’t flourish as you’d like. Be sure to select a variety that’s specified for your state’s climate area. For example, in southern areas, grow rabbiteye or southern highbush types. In the northern U.S., select northern highbush varieties. In Zones 6 or 7, the Mid-Atlantic, North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest and parts of California, you can grow both types. The good news is that there are blueberry bushes that can be grown in zones as far north as Zone 3 (northern U.S. and Canada) and as far south as Zone 10 (Florida).

Buy Plants Free of Pests and Disease

Inspect the plants to ensure that they’re healthy, free of all pests, spots and noticeable diseases. Also check to be sure the blueberry bushes don’t look as if they’re drought stressed. Those plants are destined to do poorly and should be avoided.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson advises, "Do not buy blueberry bushes with yellow leaves."

Buy Bushes of the Right Age

Blueberry bushes that are too young or too old aren't likely flourish as you’d like. Too young and they’ll take years to ripen and produce blueberries. Too old and they’re likely container-bound and prone to disease and blight. Blueberry bushes are best when they are 2 to 3 years old.

Buy Container Blueberry Bushes vs. Bare Root

Many companies sell blueberry bushes as bare-root plants. Avoid these if you can, since it will take time for them to reach the right stage to ripen and bear fruit. Container-grown blueberry plants are a better bet. Buy blueberry bushes in 5-gallon containers for the best head start.

TIP: Susan suggests, "Select container blueberry bushes with a pot that is twice the size of the plant."

Note that you can extract blueberry seeds to plant your own bushes, but it could be years before your planted blueberry bushes will mature enough produce fruit.

TIP: Susan adds, "Be sure that the blueberry bush you select has moist, but not soggy soil."

Pick the Right Place to Plant

Blueberry bushes are great for planting along a fence, in your garden or next to your house. They also grow wild in very poor soil and on hillsides. They do best, however, in acidic soil and in full sun. They’ll also tolerate heat and cold, but they don’t do well with poor drainage. Buy some peat moss or pine straw to help with drainage. Also, some types will grow 7 to 10 feet high. Allow space in between to cultivate, so prune the plants and keep weeds at bay. Thoroughly investigate the height and width of the plants before you buy.

Select Various Varieties

You want a consistent supply of delicious, nutritious blueberries throughout the growing season. The key to this is to buy three types of varieties: early, mid-blooming and late blooming.

Buy in Sufficient Quantities

Depending on the size of your garden, buy enough bushes to ensure adequate cross-pollination. This means you need to buy at least two bushes. If you have larger space, consider the height and width requirements of the bushes and plan your purchase accordingly.