Plant the ‘Berry’ Best in Your Garden

Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries – OH MY. Juicy, sweet berries right off the plant? Who wouldn’t want that?! And the taste of homegrown cannot be beat. Here are our tips for growing the juiciest, most nutritious berries.

Beautiful Blueberries:

Blueberry bushes are easy to grow, and don’t need much attention. The main thing to remember is that they need to be grown in acidic soil and kept consistently moist. If you don’t have acidic soil in your garden, blueberries grow very well in pots. They also contain good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

Our favorite blueberry varieties:

  1. Vaccinium corymbosum – Blueberry ‘Cabernet Splash’
  2. Vaccinium corymbosum – Blueberry ‘Bluecrop’
  3. Vaccinium corymbosum – Bushel and Berry® Blueberry ‘Peach Sorbet’
  4. Vaccinium corymbosum – Blueberry ‘Blueberry Buckle’
  5. Vaccinium ‘Pink Lemonade’ –  Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’
  6. Vaccinium corymbosum – Bushel and Berry® ‘Blueberry Buckle’
  7. Vaccinium corymbosum – Highbush Blueberry ‘Duke’

How to Grow Blueberries:

  1. Choose a sunny location. Blueberries will grow in semi-shade but will thrive in sunshine.
  2. Test soil for pH levels. Soil should be in an acidic range of 4 to 5 using sulfur. The plants will grow in more alkaline soils, but fruiting and leaf production will likely slow down.
  3. Amend the soil. Soil that is high in organic matter, like well-aged compost, will result in better growth of the blueberry plant. Do not add nitrogen amendments such as manures.
  4. Acidic materials are gold. Add several inches of peat moss to the hole when planting to give your plant an extra boost of acidic matter. Top with a 3-inch layer of acidic mulch, such as pine needles or pine straw.
  5. Water well. Using a drip system instead of hand-watering these plants can make a world of  difference in growth.

Bountiful Blackberries:

Blackberries are a very easy berry to grow. Once this native berry is ripe, get ready for an abundant harvest, picking every couple of days. They are packed with vitamins C and K, high in fiber and antioxidants and deliver a variety of health benefits.

Our favorite blackberry varieties:

  1. Rubus allegheniensis – Bushel and Berry® Baby Cakes Blackberry
  2. Rubus L. subgenus Rubus – Blackberry ‘Marionberry’
  3. Rubus fruticosus ‘Triple Crown’ – Blackberry ‘Triple Crown’

How to Grow Blackberries:

  1. Full sun is best. Blackberries are among some of the easiest berries to grow, but they still need lots of sun.
  2. Test soil for pH levels. Soil should be well-draining and in a mildly acidic to neutral pH of about 5 to 6. Amend as needed (see blueberries).
  3. Water regularly. Watering regularly during the first growing season is crucial to establishing a deep, extensive root system.
  4. Fertilize and mulch. Fertilizing should be done before new growth begins in spring. When planted, cover with a 3-inch layer of organic mulch, but make sure the mulch is placed 2 inches away from the crown to prevent rotting.
  5. Picking tip: Blackberries are ready to be picked when they go from glossy to dull, usually within a 2- to 3-day span.

Sweet Strawberries:

Strawberries can be easy to grow, if you know a few tricks. Their beauty is that they are perennial: Plant them once, and they produce year after year. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C. They may also help reduce risk factors for heart disease and control blood sugar.

Our favorite strawberry varieties:

  1. Fragaria x ananassa ‘Quinalt’ – Strawberry ‘Quinalt’
  2. Fragaria x ananassa ‘Chandler’ – Strawberry ‘Chandler
  3. Fragaria x ananassa ‘Ozark Beauty’ – Strawberry ‘Ozark Beauty’
  4. Fragaria vesca – Strawberry ‘Alpine Mignonette’
  5. Fragaria ananassa ‘Berried Treasure® Pink’ – Strawberry ‘Berried Treasure® Pink’

How to Grow Strawberries:

  1. Two main types. Strawberries are broken down into two main types – June-bearing and ever-bearing – it is important to know which type you are growing.
  2. Strawberries thrive in full sun with fertile, evenly moist, well-drained soil.
  3. Plant early. Strawberries can be planted as early as 6 weeks before your last frost. Use row covers to protect new plantings from cold weather and wind.
  4. After harvesting the berries, hand-prune old leaves to allow for sunlight to hit the center of the plant.

Rad Raspberries:

Raspberry bushes are easy to grow and yield an impressive harvest. A few bushes will give you enough fruit to eat, preserve, and share. They are also full of fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may benefit heart health.

Our favorite raspberry varieties:

  1. Rubus idaeus – Bushel and Berry® RaspberryRaspberry Shortcake®
  2. Rubus occidentalis – Bristol Black Raspberry
  3. Rubus idaeus var. strigosus – Raspberry ‘Encore Red’

How to Grow Raspberries:

  1. Location, location, location. Raspberries thrive in areas with full sun and good air circulation. Avoid areas with high winds, as this can damage the berries.
  2. Winter composting. Apply compost and a small amount of balanced organic fertilizer in late winter for optimal growth.
  3. Mulch will discourage weeds and keep the soil evenly moist – water during dry spells.
  4. Picking tip: If berries are wet, let them dry before picking.

It may be hard to know which berries to choose or what will grow best in your yard. We’re here to help. Email us at [email protected], or visit our stores.

And please follow us on social media and share photos of your gardens! Because we love plants as much as you do!

Photo Credits: Bushel and Berry