Did you know blueberries are good pollinators for bees? Lots of different types of bees? It’s just another great reason to plant them in your landscape that isn’t all about the pancakes. (Though, who are we kidding? It’s always about the pancakes.) Read about blueberry pollinating bees here. And, for how to grow blueberries, read on.

(For more information on why we need pollinators, read here. For annuals that are easy to grow from seed and that pollinators like, read here.)

How to Grow BlueberriesBlueberries are pollinated by native bees, bumble bees, and honey bees (to name just a few).

Blueberries are pollinated by native bees, bumblebees, and honey bees.


Blueberry Varieties

There are five primary varieties grown throughout the United States. Here’s the long version of the different ones from the University of Vermont Extension, and here’s the short version:

  • lowbush: Zone 3-7, think Maine

  • northern highbush: Zone 4-7, Western North Carolina

  • southern highbush: Zone 8-10, south of WNC

  • rabbiteye: Zone 7-9, again, head south

  • half-high: Zone 3-6, hybrids of highbush and lowbush, which do well here

Northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) is the most widely grown in commercial production and among homeowners. It’s disease-resistant and self-pollinating. Although, planting two allows for cross-pollination, resulting in bigger, better fruit even on self-pollinators. Step one is choosing the right plant and giving it a buddy.

Planting multiples with different maturity dates will spread the harvest out, but for pollination purposes, you do need two of the same type that bloom simultaneously. Examples:

  • ‘Bluecrop’ and ‘Blueray’ are both highbush, mid-season bloomers. Plant them together.

  • ‘Bluegold’ and ‘Jersey’ are both highbush, late-season bloomers. You’d plant them together.

When picking your blueberry, pick the right type for your zone, but also pick one that makes your taste buds happy. Prefer sweet? Go with 'Blueray'. Like slighty tart? Try 'Chippewa.'


When picking your blueberry, choose the right type for your zone and the one that makes your taste buds happy. Prefer sweet? Go with ‘Blueray.’ Like slightly tart? Try ‘Chippewa.’

Planting Blueberries

  • Blueberries require acidic soil high in organic matter and well-drained but not dry. Don’t assume because you live in Western North Carolina you have acidic soil. The pH is best between 4 and 5. A quick soil test will tell you what your ph is. (We have soil test kits available.) Adding proper amendments will help in the landscape, but don’t forget you can grow the Brazelberries in containers. Container-grown blueberries are easy because you can create the perfect soil environment in a container.

  • Bushes should be planted in the early spring and can handle some shade, but the dense shade is not an option. Blueberry bushes fruit best in full sun, but afternoon shade is acceptable.

  • Space bushes 5 feet apart to help with cross-pollination.

  • Do not apply fertilizer when planting, but add it two weeks or up to a month later. Holly Tone fertilizer helps with the soil acidity (suitable for your rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas, too). Established plants only need fertilizer once a season.

  • Amend the soil when planting based on your soil needs, and try Daddy Pete’s Composted Cow Manure for top dressing. (Our staff can explain the different amendments to you to help you decide what’s best for you.)



Blueberry bushes in the fall add color to the landscape. Their spring blossoms are beautiful, and they’re easy to maintain. The berries are the bonus. Even if you decide the birds can have them, they’re worth the real estate in your landscape.

Caring for Blueberries

  • Blueberries are thirsty plants, and they require one to two inches of water a week.

  • Skip pruning for the first three to four years. Then prune to stimulate better fruit production and keep bushes thinned out for better air circulation and sunlight penetration. Pruning time is late winter before spring growth begins.

  • Mulching helps keep shallow blueberry roots moist. Two-four inches of pine needles is perfect.

  • Drape netting over the bushes before the berries ripen. Birds will make off with even green berries.

  • The birds are the pests, and sometimes powdery mildew is an issue.

How to Grow Blueberries: The Harvest

  • Blueberries are ready for picking in mid-July to August.

  • Eating them fresh is best, but freezing them is easy. Here’s how you do that.


Finally: The Pancakes

Finally, the reward. Pancakes. Recipe here. Enjoy!

Written by Cinthia Milner, Landscape Consultant, and blog writer.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.