Opened on March 04, 2021. Last updated by The POOG on March 18, 2021.
Growth Climate Zones
The colder regions of Ontario are only marginally suitable for high-bush blueberries. Lowbush blueberries or half-high blueberries may survive better, especially if snow insulates the plants throughout the winter. Highbush blueberries grow and survive best in the milder regions of Ontario.
See Figure 1 below for an Ontario zone map.
Apricots are normally considered self-fruitful, not requiring inter-planting with other cultivars. However, some selections, notably Vivagold is self-sterile and should not be planted in solid blocks.
Blueberries require acidic, well drained, loose soils with a high organic matter content and good drainage. Blueberries grow best at a pH of 4.2 to 5.0, although they may tolerate a higher pH up to 5.5. Sulphur applications will acidify the soil and reduce the pH. If the soil pH tests higher than 6.5. sulphur will not work.
Add organic material into the soil prior to planting. Acid peat moss is the preferred source of organic matter. Work 10 to 15 cm of acid peat thoroughly into the top 15 to 20 cm of soil.
Fertilizing and Watering
See the factheet Blueberries for Home Garden for details. The factsheet has a great deal of important advice not covered in this article.
Name colour codes are: green (#3fd200) for first choice due to the best characteristics of late maturity, fruit properties, and disease tolerance of trees; orange (#d2a400) for second choice for trees that are slightly less than optimal but still excellent; and red (#ff0000) for not recommended because of one or more severe limitations. Names uncoloured in black are considered undistinguished but may still be planted as good trees. Cultivar characteristics that have factored into the colour coding are shown in bold.
Recommended varieties are:
- Bluecrop: Midseason, productive. Plants are vigorous, upright, open and hardy. Fruit clusters are loose; berries are light blue, large in size, very firm, with a good, slightly tart flavor. Fall leaf color is a medium dark red.
- Blueray: Midseason, productive. Plants are vigorous, erect and fairly hardy. Fruit clusters are small and tight; berries are medium to dark blue, very large, firm, aromatic, with good flavor. Blossoms are reddish and fall leaf color is a medium dark red.
- Jersey: Late midseason, productive. Plants are large, bushy, upright and hardy. Fruit clusters are loose; berries are medium blue, medium sized, firm, with fair flavor, lacking aroma. Fall leaf color is a light, bright red.
- Northland: Early midseason, very productive. Plants are slightly short, bushy, moderately spreading, and very hardy. Fruit clusters are long and loose; berries are medium to dark blue, medium-small, moderately firm, with good flavor. Very good ornamental value.
- Patriot: Early midseason, productive. Plants are small to medium sized, vigorous, upright and very hardy. Fruit clusters are tight; berries are medium blue, very large, slightly flattened, firm, with very good flavor. Good ornamental value.
Lowbush blueberries are low, spreading, plants that often grow wild in northern regions of Ontario. Lowbush blueberries produce small to medium sized, flavorful berries. Cultivated low-bush blueberry planting stock is available. Lowbush blueberries should be planted 50 cm apart in rows 100-150 cm apart. Plant lowbush blueberry crowns 3 to 5 cm below the soil surface to promote spreading of the plants by underground rhizomes.
Half-high blueberries resulted from crossing lowbush and highbush blueberries together. Northblue is a vigorous half-high blueberry that reaches 50 to 75 cm in height and is hardy to -30° C.
- Northblue: produces dark blue, large, firm berries.
- Northcountry: is a smaller half-high (45 to 60 cm) that produces sweet, mild, sky-blue blueberries. Plant half-high blueberries 60 to 75 cm apart.
- St. Cloud: is a large half-high (100-120 cm) with an upright growth habit. Fruit is medium blue, large and slightly flattened.
- Blueberries for Home Garden. OMAFRA. Last Modified: February 12, 2021.
- Crop Protection Guide for berries, 2020–2021. Publication 360B (PDF)
- Information for Commercial Berry Growers in Ontario