The right fertilizer and timing
Fertilizing blueberries is not that difficult, but you still need to consider a few important points. The blueberry is a little diva when it comes to the correct acidity of the soil. And unfortunately, this can change due to inappropriate fertilizer. We will show you what you need to pay attention to so that your blueberry grows vigorously and bears many delicious fruits.
Why do you need to fertilize blueberries?
All plants need certain nutrients to thrive. To have enough energy to grow, they absorb the substances they need through their roots. Blueberries tend to grow slowly, so they don’t need quite as much fertilizer as other plants. However, the ripening of the fruit also needs energy – and we would like to be able to harvest as many berries as possible.
In order to absorb the nutrients, the soil must have a certain acidity. The pH value indicates how acidic or – in contrast – alkaline the soil is. Blueberries need acidic soil with a pH of about 4 – 5. If this value is exceeded, the blueberry will suffer from nutrient deficiency in the long run, no matter how much fertilizer you give it.
So, fertilization of blueberries is strongly related to the appropriate soil. For a good harvest and healthy plants, you should keep this connection in mind.
Fertilizing blueberries in pots
Blueberries in pots usually need to be fertilized a little more often than plants in the open, because the nutrients are washed out of the soil in a planter more quickly. Also, of course, less soil means less room to store nutrients. In the open, many shrubs will thrive even if you skip fertilizing for a while. Blueberries in containers, on the other hand, need a little more attention and regular fertilization.
Fertilize blueberries – The right time
With fertilizing we want to support the plant in two points: In the general growth and in the formation of fruit. Therefore, two times of the year are ideal to fertilize the blueberry.
Fertilizing in early spring: March or April
In spring, temperatures slowly rise again and the sun has more power. This encourages plant life to awaken from its winter dormancy. Just before the new shoots, we can provide the blueberry with fertilizer. This way it starts the new growing season with full energy reserves. In this way, a good start to the plant year is guaranteed.
Fertilizing in late spring: end of May or June
In May, the blueberry is in bloom. The white, bell-shaped blossoms decorate the bushes and raise the anticipation of a rich harvest. When the first fruit set appears, it is a good time to give the blueberry a little fertilizer.
Fertilize blueberries like a pro
At a glance:
- Blueberries are weak growers and generally need rather little fertilizer.
- Blueberries need slightly acidic soil. Therefore, they must not be fertilized with substances that raise the pH of the soil, such as eggshells, lime, compost or manure.
- Slow-release fertilizers rich in nitrogen are ideal for blueberries.
- Fertilize with organic matter rather than artificial fertilizers.
- Leftovers that accumulate in the kitchen are also suitable for fertilizing, for example, coffee grounds or banana peels
Blueberries like slow release fertilizer
You can feed your fruit and vegetable plants in the garden with different types of fertilizers. There are fertilizers that work very quickly and provide nutrients to the plant immediately. Unfortunately, they don’t last that long and the fertilizers are usually given weekly with the watering water. However, blueberries do not have a particularly high nutrient requirement and the effort of regular fertilizing can be saved.
Slow-release fertilizers, on the other hand, work over a longer period of time. However, they do not take effect immediately – therefore it makes sense to apply them early in the year and to provide some more fertilizer later on.
Fertilizing blueberries with coffee grounds
Coffee has a pH of about 5, which is slightly acidic. So blueberries like to drink a cup or two of coffee – their way. You can work old coffee grounds into the soil around the plant well about 3 to 4 times during the spring and summer months. Alternatively, you can add water to the used powder to make a liquid fertilizer.
Fertilizing blueberries with horn shavings, horn meal or wool
Horn is an organic material that is produced when cattle are slaughtered. That doesn’t sound so nice at first – but on the other hand it is of course a good thing that the horn is not disposed of, but can still be used. Since in this country many cattle are dehorned at a young age, you don’t see very many cows still wearing their horns. Horn shavings also contain the horn of the hooves, but in order to meet the demand, material is often still imported, which of course is not good for the climate at all. So when buying, make sure to buy regional products if possible.
Horn meal works faster as a fertilizer than the shavings because it is so fine. It can be used in spring and summer to fertilize blueberries. Horn shavings, on the other hand, are more likely to be worked into the bed in the fall to improve the soil in the long term.
By the way, wool has a similar effect as fertilizer, since it also consists of keratin. If you have sheep living nearby, it is worth asking if you can get wool scraps after shearing.
Fertilizing blueberries with bark or needle compost
Long time deposited bark pieces of coniferous trees result in a humus-rich compost, which is super suitable for blueberries, because it is slightly acidic. You can find it in stores under the names bark compost or bark humus or needle compost or needle humus.
Bark mulch is something else again, because it is much coarser and the components have not yet decomposed. Since it looks fancy, it is used for mulching, as the name suggests.
Fertilize blueberries with berry fertilizer
Of course, it is also possible to buy special berry fertilizer. However, make sure that the blueberry needs less fertilizer than other berry bushes. Organic berry fertilizer is available, for example, in pellet form based on sheep’s wool.
We do not recommend liquid special fertilizers for blueberries, however, because there is a high risk of overfertilization. In addition, residues of the fertilizer can be found in the fruit.
Purely mineral fertilizers, i.e. artificial fertilizers such as blue corn, have absolutely no place in the garden. They are, so to speak, the opposite of “pure nature” and the salts they contain get into the groundwater. It can also easily happen to overfertilize the blueberry with it.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.