I am a unrepentant blueberry lover, and I’m thrilled to report that, yes you can grow blueberries in your Los Angeles or Pasadena garden. I’ve discovered they’re best grown in containers rather than in the ground. Blueberries are acid loving plants and it’s easier to create the ideal growing environment in a container.
This is the 6th season for my blueberry plants and they’re bigger and more productive than ever. I grow them semi-organically in half barrels that I purchased at OSH, planted in organic soil for acid loving plants (Organic Camellia and Azalea potting mix from Armstrong Nursery). The only fertilizer I use is old coffee grounds spread around the base of the plants on top of the soil (don’t want to disturb the roots). Since my husband is the coffee drinker, I am at his mercy whether he will purchase organic or standard coffee, hence the “semi-organic” label. In addition, I use 1 or 2 inches of peat moss and organic potting soil (for acid loving plants) as a mulch in the spring. I make sure they get watered regularly. And that’s pretty much it.
I grow 2 different varieties of blueberry plants in my Pasadena garden: O’Neal (2 plants) and Misty (1 plant). They’re both Southern High Bush blueberries, which means they have low chill requirements and tolerate heat well. Growing 2 different varieties improves the size of the berries and the quantity. Both varieties are “early” berries. I just harvested my first bowl of O’Neal berries today (Oh, Happy Day!). The Misty plant which has plenty of green berries on it, usually ripens a week or two later than the O’Neals.
Last year, I got about 3/4 of a gallon of blueberries from my 3 plants. This year, I expect to double that. Blueberries come into their own when they are about 5 years old, and can produce for another 15 years. The mockingbirds have discovered my backyard blueberries and now we are at competing to see who can get to the ripening blueberries first. My husband built a cage around the blueberry bushes this weekend, made of hardware cloth (coarse screen) and bird net, so I’ll have a fighting chance.