Blueberry Companion Plants – A Guide For What & What NOT to Plant
Read this guide to find out exactly what blueberry companion plants will work best for you in your vegetable garden or flower bed! This guide for companion planting blueberries will encourage your fruit’s growth and production and will help to deter unwanted pests from foraging. Find out what plants make great companions and what plants to avoid that make bad companions for your blueberry shrubs.
Pro Tip: Blueberries need plenty of airflow to avoid fungal diseases. Make sure that they aren’t crowded by tall, broad leafed plants.
Another action that you can take to ensure your blueberry plants thrive is to make sure that you are thinking of blueberry companion plants– plants that will create a harmonious environment, encouraging each other’s healthy growth and helping to deter pests.
All About Blueberries + Blueberry Growing Conditions
When I think of summer, I think of fresh berries! Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are considered a long-season perennial, producing fruit for up to 20 consecutive years giving you a steady supply antioxidant rich berries. They enjoy full sun with mild protection from extreme temperature swings. A healthy blueberry bush can produce over 1000 berries per growing season. The “bloom” that is found on the skin of blueberry helps to protect the berry. Wash the berries right before eating to keep them fresh as long as possible!
Soil: Blueberries need slightly acidic soil (4.5-4.8 PH) to survive and produce a reliable harvest. They do well in light soil with plenty of organic matter. Consider this soil tester to check the PH of your soil. Have you seen wild blueberries? The wild plants are often found in well draining soil around evergreen trees.
Temperatures: Depending on the variety of blueberry, they can survive temperatures down to -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C) . Low bush blueberries tend to tolerate colder temperatures whereas less cold hardy varieties like highbush blueberries can be damaged in temperatures around 0°F (-17°C).
Blueberry USDA Zone Suitability
|Blueberry Variety||USDA Hardiness Zone|
|Half-High Bush Blueberries||3-5|
Check out this guide to figure out which blueberry variety will work best in your u.s. department of agriculture plant hardiness growing zone.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a simple way to get the most out of your backyard garden or flower bed. It is a vital component of permaculture. Gardening with companion planting in mind will help you to improve the nutrients in your soil, provide shelter or a space to climb, attract beneficial insects and pollinators and even repel unwanted pests. Companion gardening stretches beyond the confines of conventional gardening to bushes (blueberry bushes), orchards, trees and shrubs, grains, grasses, and other field crops.
What Are The Benefits of Companion Planting?
Weed Prevention: Good companion plants can provide fast growing ground cover that help to suppress surrounding weeds. Try to alternate upright crops with sprawling plants to keep weeds at bay in your garden. Among your blueberry garden, consider planting centipede grass, carpet grass or other native grass to choke out surrounding weeds.
Nutrient Provision: An appeal of using a polyculture type of approach and planting different plants next to each other is that the plants wont be competing for the exact same nutrients. Certain plants add needed nutrients into the soil and help neighbouring plants to thrive. Legumes are considered “givers” and include plants like peas, beans, clover and alfalfa. They have deep roots that fix nitrogen into the soil. Planting these next to heavy or light feeders that use up nitrogen will create the perfect growing conditions for your crops to thrive. Blueberries love acidic soil. Consider planting them near peat moss or areas that will collect pine needles and result in a soil that has a low ph.
Trap Cropping: Placing certain bug-appealing plants near other susceptible plants can help to attract pests away from fragile crops and allow them to feed on others that won’t be harmed or aren’t as important. Planting the trap crop ahead of your target crop will ensure the pests stay away from delicate seedlings. Once the trap crop is infested, you can remove it along with the pests.
Pest Suppression: Mixed scents from different plants can help to repel insects (mostly small, egg laying flies) from laying on neighbouring plants. Certain herbs and flowers can prevent pesky worms, nematodes, and other fungi. The oil from Marigolds has been proven to be a great deterrent for many different pests. Citronella and lemongrass can also help deter pests from wrecking your blueberry bushes.
Protective Shelter: Fragile plants or plants with very specific needs can be benefitted from the shelter that surrounding plants may provide. Companion plants can provide shade, a wind barrier, and a canopy to protect lower plants from rain, hail, and even frost. Be careful when choosing companion plants for your blueberries- they need plenty of airflow and sunlight! Avoid broad leafed plants or plants that may vine out and choke out your blueberry bushes.
Natural Supports: Strong, tall plants such as sunflowers and corn offer trailing plants or low growing plants like peas and cucumbers a strong trellis-like support to climb and spread. Avoid planting sunflowers or corn next to blueberries because their soil PH needs are so different.
The 10 BEST Blueberry Companion Plants
Plants that compliment blueberries include:
Evergreen Trees: Most types of evergreens including but not limited to evergreen shrubs, spruce, pine trees, yew, fir, and juniper make great companion plants for blueberries. The trees thrive in acidic soil and their needles help to further acidify the soil (lowering the PH level)- creating the perfect growing conditions for blueberry bushes. It is important to make sure that evergreens are situated in such a way that they don’t shade your plants too much. Consider planting the evergreens to the north of your blueberries.
Strawberries: Strawberry plants can tolerate slightly acidic soil (PH 5.4 and 6.5) and generally thrive in the same soil as blueberry plants. This low-growing plant offers great ground cover for blueberries, retaining moisture, suppressing weeds, and protecting roots. As an added bonus, you can harvest two kinds of delicious fruit at once!
Lilacs: Lilacs are one of the best companion plants for blueberries for several reasons: They attract pollinators (bees, butterflies, and beneficial wasps), they can provide part shade to fend off heat stress on particularly hot days, have a beautiful scent, and come in a variety of colours to suit any garden.
Thyme: The ultimate companion plant, thyme offers a variety of benefits for blueberries when planted in close proximity. Thyme acts as ground cover, improving moisture retention, weed suppression, and root protection from temperature swings. Thyme tolerates slightly acidic soil and it’s strong scent makes it a natural pest repellant. When planted together, thyme and blueberries create a partnership that promotes a bountiful blueberry harvest.
Basil: Much like thyme + blueberries, basil enjoys acidic conditions. It’s strong herbal scent also helps to prevent pests from taking refuge in your blueberry guild. It is whispered among old gardeners that basil improves the flavor of blueberries. Looking to potentially boost blueberry flavor and repel insects that feed on blueberry foliage + fruit? Look to basil… it may just prove to be the perfect companion plant.
Parsley: Parsley flourishes in slightly acidic soil so it can easily be grown alongside blueberry bushes. As an added bonus, parsley attracts black swallowtail butterflies (beneficial pollinators). Parsley and blueberries are excellent companion plants.
Dill: Dill thrives in acidic soil and has similar growing requirements to blueberries. It attracts pollinators and ladybugs which help fend off aphids and other pests.
Borage: Borage is an annual herb hailing from the Mediterranean and it is known for its medicinal uses. The small purple star shaped flowers attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and beneficial wasps– helping blueberry bushes to set fruit. Easy to start from seed, borage makes a great companion plant for your blueberry patch. When it wilts and falls, borage creates great natural mulch for blueberries.
Rhododendron: Much like Azaelea and blueberry plants, rhododendron do well in acidic soil. Their blooms attract pollinators to the blueberry plants, helping the bushes to set fruit. They also proved the perfect amount of shade for blueberries. Rhododendron come in a variety of colours boasting beautiful flowers and foliage and require slightly more shade than blueberries, making them an excellent layer in your food forest or other permaculture set-up.
Azalea: Azalea can help to boost health and productivity of your blueberry bushes. They are acid-loving plants much like blueberry plants. They provide limited shade which helps diminish heat stress during hot summer months. Azalea are ideal companion plants for blueberries because they enjoy similar conditions to thrive.
What NOT to Plant With Blueberries
There are many plants that make good companions for blueberries. It is equally important to take note of which plants you should NOT plant by your blueberry bushes. Avoid plants that have very different nutrient needs, that can stifle the growth of your blueberry plants, that steal too much sunlight or airflow. The following plants should be avoided when planning where to plant your blueberries.
Brassicas: Brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale are heavy feeders and have the potential to take much needed nutrients from your blueberry plants. Brassicas do well in slightly alkaline soil whereas blueberries prefer acidic soil- making them unlikely neighbors.
Tomatoes, eggplants, and other nightshades: The needs of nightshades like tomatoes are so vastly different from blueberry plants that there is no scenario where they would prove to be good growing partners. Either one or the other would suffer in poor soil conditions.
Melons: Melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe make bad neighbors for blueberry plants. They have different soil requirements, sprawl with the potential of overtaking young blueberry plants, and fight for nutrients. Give melons a large birth in your garden and keep them away from your blueberry plants.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blueberries
Plant blueberries in a sunny location with well drained, slightly acidic soil full of organic components.
Blueberry bushes can take 2-3 years to start producing fruit, reaching their full growth potential at about 10 years and living up to 20 years.
Plant new blueberry bushes in the fall or if you face very cold winters, wait until early spring.
Grass clippings, pine bark and needles, leaves, and other wood mulch all work great for blueberry plants. Blueberries do best when their delicate roots are covered in 3-4 inches of mulch.
Blueberry Recipes Ready for Harvest Time
Blueberry Grunt In this simple classic, blueberries are reduced over the stove and topped with biscuits.
Blueberry Breakfast Cake Packed with blueberries and topped with a sweet crumble, this blueberry breakfast cake is the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee.
Blueberry Pie: Serve this delicious blueberry pie with ice cream for a traditional dessert that is sure to please!