Growing Blueberries in the Desert Garden

 

Did you know you can grow blueberries in the desert? You can if you follow these three non-negotiable rules.

1.) You must plant Southern Highbush varieties (there are many.) These are low enough chill and will be heat tolerant enough to survive. Even some “low chill” varieties may reqire more chill hours then you get. In Phoenix proper, you need to look for varieties that are under 350. The lower, the better.

2.) You can never plant them in the ground. They are a container plant only and even then they require an acidic soil mixture with lots of peat moss and soil sulfer. No native desert soil. They require an pH of 4.5-5.5. Native soil here is about an 8. No matter how much you ammend our soil, it will never be acidic enough for long enough to keep the berry bush healthy and thriving. Remember, berry bushes are a long term plant. You want many, many years of production out of them. You might get a bush to live in the native soil for a season, but it will die eventually. Alright, enough about that.

3.) They are very sensitive to nitrate based nitrogen fertilizer. It will kill them quick. Be very sure you know the origin of any nitrogen in fertilizer and be sure the soil mixture you use doesn’t have any added in.

Watch your plants for heat and sun stress. Move them where they will get plenty of shade in the hottest part of the summer. This is an advantage to container plants, you can move them whenever you need to. Dave Wilson Nursery has a very helpful page about raising blueberries in a desert environment. Follow thier advice to the letter and you should be sucessful. Enjoy your blueberries!

5 thoughts on “Growing Blueberries in the Desert Garden

  1. Great video! Thanks so much for taking the time to do it. I’m planning on trying blueberries next season. Your great info will help me tons!

  2. Thank you for posting this. I have tried growing sharp blue and misty in containers earlier this year (I am in Tempe, AZ). But they both died… Not sure if from the heat, the pH balance or the pots I was using. Probably from my “black thumb”~

    I am going to get some from Summer Winds Nursery this fall and try again and follow your tips.

  3. Hi Bailey!

    Short answer: no.

    Explanation:
    If you are in the Phoenix, AZ area you can not put the blueberries in the ground. They will die. Even if you could remove all the native soil in your garden and replace it with Highly acidic soil, it would still, in some place, be touching native soil, and the second the blueberry plants roots touch that high alkaline soil, its dead. Big containers only with highly acidic soil and you will need to add things like coffee grounds and coffee on it daily to keep it acidic.

    If you live in a different part of the country I have no idea.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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