The tart and tasty blueberries have some neighbors they adore and some they’d rather not be around. So, what are those blueberry companion plants they love? Let’s find out!
Blueberries have a penchant for full sun, acidic soil, and plenty of water. As long-term plants, they grow slowly and steadily, so you’d want to give them companions that will help them through the seasons. Luckily for you, this blueberry companion planting guide will help with that.
What Will I Learn?
- What is Companion Planting and Why is it Important?
- The Benefits of Companion Planting for Blueberries
- Understanding the Needs of Blueberries: (A Quick Care Guide)
- The Best Blueberry Companion Plants
- • Berries:
- • Flowers & Shrubs:
- • Herbs:
- • Vegetables:
- Bad Companion Plants for Blueberries
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What is Companion Planting and Why is it Important?
Companion planting is the art of pairing compatible plants together that can benefit from each other in some way. This can be in the form of pest control, nutrient exchange, pollinator attraction, or even just aesthetics. Companion planting is a centuries-old practice that’s been used to improve the health and yield of food crops.
The Benefits of Companion Planting for Blueberries
Blueberries can reap a lot of benefits from companion plants. These include:
- Improved soil quality and nutrient exchange.
- Increased protection against weeds, disease, and pests.
- Better fruit yield as a result of more pollinators in the field.
- Natural pest control through predatory insects attracted by companion plants.
- More attractive garden with greater biodiversity in soil, air, and water.
Understanding the Needs of Blueberries: (A Quick Care Guide)
Blueberries grow in humid climates with freezing winters and mild summers. A few newer varieties tend to do better in milder climates, but generally, they need the same care:
- Grow blueberries in rich soil with organic matter like peat moss and compost.
- Amend the soil to keep a pH between 4.5 and 5.5—blueberries cannot absorb nutrients if the pH is too high.
- Water deeply, at least 1 inch usually, and 4 inches during the fruiting season.
- Pluck the blooms in the first two years to promote better bush growth.
- Prune old wood to five inches in late winter or early spring.
- During fruiting season, protect the blueberries from birds with netting or cover crops.
The Best Blueberry Companion Plants
Once done with the basics, it’s time to choose the right companion plants to grow with blueberries. Here are some of the best companions, grouped by category:
As a low-growing crop, strawberries are an excellent ground cover to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Plus, they have the same soil and water needs as blueberries, so you don’t have to worry about giving them different care. For best results, plant strawberries along the edges so they don’t get shaded by the taller blueberries.
Like blueberries, Swedish lingonberries thrive in freezing temperatures where other plants fail. They also share the same growth cycle and harvest window, so you’ll even enjoy them at the same time. Again, these are smaller plants, so put them on the edges or in gaps between your blueberry patches.
Cranberries aren’t exactly a universal match for blueberries, but they do get along well with southern highbush and rabbit eye varieties, which thrive in milder climates. The best thing about cranberries is that they attract pollinators like crazy, giving your blueberries a definite boost in fruit production.
However, cranberries prefer a pH between 6-7, so place them just far enough so there is no soil mixing, but your blueberries still get all the juicy benefits.
Although hard to find, pineberries can be as good a blueberry companion as strawberries and lingonberries. These little wonders can survive freezing temperatures, help control weeds, and attract pollinators. Pineberries are a hybrid and need cross-pollination, so make sure you plant many of them in your garden to get the best result.
• Flowers & Shrubs:
These classic flowers bloom at the same time as blueberries, creating a perfect backdrop while ensuring there are plenty of pollinators to go around. Azaleas also prefer slightly acidic soil and have shallow roots, so there is little competition with blueberries for nutrients.
This low-maintenance shrub doesn’t need much water or fertilizer, and it attracts pollinators and helps with weed control. Plus, heathers can tolerate slightly acidic soil and full sun exposure, just like blueberries. Heathers are also a great cover for the long term, preventing soil erosion and conserving moisture.
For a more ornamental look, plant gardenias near your blueberry patch. These spectacular flowers come with a sweet perfume and will bring in plenty of pollinators for the blueberries. Just keep them away from the center to avoid competition with larger plants.
8. Mountain Laurel
An evergreen shrub and excellent companion, mountain laurel, has shallow roots, so it does not compete with resources, be it light or nutrients. In addition, its dense foliage helps protect the blueberry plants from extreme weather and makes a great backdrop to show off those blues.
A native woodland perennial in many parts of North America, trillium can bring a wild look to your blueberry patch. These flowers prefer moist, acidic soil and will thrive in the shade or dappled sunlight of taller blueberries. Their low-growing habit also makes their placement convenient without much fuss.
Ferns are an excellent ground cover for blueberry patches. They help retain soil moisture, protect the roots from weeds, and even add shade to avoid overheating. Plus, they come in so many varieties that you can easily find one that fits perfectly with the rest of your plants.
Blueberries usually have problems with aphids, mites, and whiteflies—chives can naturally repel these pests. One of the few cold-hardy herbs, chives also work as a ground cover, block weeds, and improve soil structure.
Another herb that loves acid soils, thyme is an easy-going plant requiring little maintenance. Its tiny flowers will bring in many pollinators, while its strong smell helps keep away pests. Also, thyme is very cold-tolerant and can survive the winter with minimal protection.
Mint doesn’t require much care and typically grows like a weed in acidic soil. It’s a great companion for blueberries as it acts as an organic fertilizer and insect repellent. Just be careful of its invasive habit—it can easily take over your garden if you’re not careful.
14. Winter Onion
Typically, onion would not be an ideal companion for blueberries since they need full sun for several months. However, winter onions are an exception—they are cold-resistant and don’t mind short days.
With blueberries, winter onions make excellent companions because there is virtually no competition for nutrients and space. Plus, they repel nematodes and slugs, which can be troublesome for blueberries in some areas.
Radishes are a fast-growing crop perfect for filling in the blanks between larger plants like blueberries. They don’t take up much space, help improve the soil with their deep roots, and attract beneficial insects. And the best part? Radishes grow so quickly that you can plant multiple crops within one blueberry season.
Bad Companion Plants for Blueberries
Blueberries are pretty easy to please, but still, there are some companion plants you should stay away from. These include:
Tomatoes: While both tomatoes and blueberries enjoy acidic soil, they can attract similar pests. For example, the tomato hornworm and the tobacco budworm can infest both plants, so planting them together might just invite a bigger pest party.
Grapes: Again, the same pH requirement, but both plants are highly susceptible to anthracnose or fruit rot, a fungal disease. Better to keep them away to avoid cross-contamination.
Beans and Peas: While it’s true that legumes like beans and peas can fix nitrogen in the soil, they also have very aggressive root systems. Blueberries, though hardy, have fine, shallow roots that can be easily disturbed, so it’s best to keep them away from beans.
Brassicas: All plants in the Brassica family, like cabbages, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, are aggressive heavy feeders. Planting them near blueberries will cause nutrient competition, which can be detrimental to your berry production.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best companion plants for blueberries?
Plants that thrive in acidic soils, tolerate partial sun, and are cold hardy are the best companions for blueberries. We highly recommend azaleas, heathers, cranberries, strawberries, and gardenias.
What plants should I not plant with blueberries?
Avoid planting tomatoes, grapes, beans, peas, and the brassica family near blueberries. These plants may attract the same pests or compete heavily for nutrients, leaving your blueberries without enough resources.
How can I improve pollination in blueberry plants?
Plant companion flowers that bloom at the same time as blueberries to attract pollinators. Azaleas, heathers, and gardenias are perfect for this purpose. Herbs like chives, thyme, and mint can also bring in plenty of bees and other beneficial insects.
How do I make sure my blueberries get enough nutrients?
Supplement your blueberry patch with organic fertilizers and mulch twice yearly to ensure the plants get enough nutrients. Also, make sure there are no heavy feeders near the blueberry plants that can compete for minerals. Keep an eye on the pH levels in your soil as well—blueberries can only take up nutrients from acidic soils.
How can I improve the soil drainage around my blueberry plants?
Plant cover crops like winter onions and radishes to reduce compaction in your soil. Adding mulch near the base of the plants can also improve drainage and keep the soil temperature cool. For raised beds, make sure your soil is well-drained to avoid waterlogging in the root zone.
Once they’re all settled in, blueberries can live for years and years—but you need to give them the right environment and companions to keep them healthy. Plants like azaleas or heathers near your blueberry patch will bring in pollinators, chives and thyme will keep pests away, while strawberries and lingonberries will complement in terms of care and management.
Ensure your blueberries have some of these companion plants, and your berry patch will be happy and productive for years.
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