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Fresh blueberries are a recent addition to Australian fruit bowls and are rarely grown in home gardens. However, as the succulent fruit becomes increasingly popular, blueberries are finding their way into more and more gardens. If you are wondering whether they’ll grow in your area, ask yourself if azaleas grow well in your district. If they do, then blueberries will succeed too.
Like the azalea, blueberries are members of the Ericaceae family. Most productive cultivars originate from North American stock, where they grow naturally from Canada to southern USA. With their attractive spring flowers and bright autumn foliage, blueberries don’t need to be relegated to the vegetable patch, they can also be used as decorative garden plants. If you are planning to introduce blueberries into your garden remember that some species are evergreen and some are deciduous. All blueberries grow to around 2m or less, so they’re also absolutely ideal for small gardens.
Where and how to plant
Blueberries need a freely draining, acidic and preferably sandy soil where the topsoil is enriched with organic matter, such as cocopeat. Like azaleas, they are shallow-rooted shrubs with fine, fibrous, surface-feeding roots. Blueberries love the consistent moisture that drip irrigation provides, but perfect drainage is equally important.
Rainwater is ideal for irrigation because it contains few dissolved salts, something blueberries are sensitive to. Bore, grey or recycled water is therefore unsuitable. Blueberries grow best in full sun all year round but will grow in partial shade. Spacing varies between cultivars, with the larger-growing varieties reaching up to 2m high and growing to about 1.5m wide.