While there are a number of “highbush” blueberry varieties that will do well in Southern California (see my previous blog on Blueberries), the most important thing to remember before you rush to plant, is the soil requirement. Blueberries must have acid soil (ideal pH range for blueberries is 4.2 to 5.2) and most of our soil is alkaline.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but you must either plant them in half barrels (one plant per barrel) or you can add one cubic foot of peat moss to each planting hole. The half-barrels soil should be a mixture of three-fourths acid-type peat moss (pre-moistened) and one-fourth commercial potting soil.
Blueberries also require full sun and benefit from a 2-inch layer of thoroughly composted organic mulch surrounding the plant.
As for watering, for the first eight weeks water the new plants twice a week (assuming there’s no rain). Once the plants become established, those set in soil require weekly watering while those in barrels should be watered two or three times a week. Never allow the soil to completely dry out.
At planting and for later feeding, use only slow-release fertilizer tablets that contain micronutrients. Never add fast-acting fertilizers to the soil at planting time as this may kill the young plants.
Blueberries live and produce for many years, so they are a great investment. They are deciduous, loosing their leaves in the winter and will turn a brilliant red in late fall, which makes for a colorful addition to your garden.
Many local nurseries should have bare-root blueberry plants and Pacific Tree Farms will have a good supply. Pacific Tree Farms is at 4301 Lynnwood Drive, Chula Vista; phone (619) 422-2400
http://www.dianangelov.com/EFA/nurseries/pacifictree.htm. You also can phone your favorite local nursery to see if it has or can get the plants.