Guide to Blueberry Companion Plants
Blueberries are a wonderful addition to your garden, but finding the right companion plants to create a rich, biodiverse environment can be challenging, especially as a beginner.
Here is the list of great companion plants for your blueberries, but also a list of a few plants that should never be planted next to the blueberries.
Published: November 22, 2022.
Here are 10 great companions for your blueberries.
- Pine trees
Each of these plants has a great benefit to your garden, whether it be contributing to the garden environment or discouraging pests.
What you don’t want to do is plant something competing for resources, which is why the rest of this article will cover optimal blueberry growing conditions and the best companions for them.
Blueberry Growing Guide
Before talking about the best plants to accompany blueberries in your garden, it’s worth considering how your garden should be laid out to facilitate the growth of blueberries themselves.
Establishing the right conditions—pH, sunlight, fertilizer, temperature, etc.—will help you assess which companion plants are right for you.
A Basic Overview
- Hardiness Zone: 3-10
- Soil Type: Organic
- Soil pH: 4-5.5
- Sun requirements: Full sun
- Spacing Plant: 4-6’ for highbush, 2-4’ for low bush
- Water requirements: 1” per week during the growing season
Ideal Growing Conditions for Blueberries
The best conditions for blueberries are in hardiness zones 3-10 and with a soil acidity of 4-5.5. The acidity is important since blueberries will not grow well in alkaline soil.
If your soil doesn’t match the requirements, you’re better off growing them separately in containers. You could alternatively add sulfur to your soil to lower the pH, but you should always do this in the fall, at least three months before planting season.
The microclimate of your soil is also an important part of your blueberries’ growth. It’s always wise to get into your local gardening community to assess what kind of blueberries grow well in your area and get pro tips from people who’ve had success in the past.
Ideally, blueberries should be planted in full sun, but they can manage well enough with some afternoon shade. The ground must be rich in organic soil and not have standing water or dry out too quickly.
You’ll want to add a generous amount of organic matter into the soil for your blueberries to help them thrive. Peat moss is an ideal starter, but pine needles, leaves, and other bits of tree debris work well.
They should be planted in the early spring, although container-grown blueberries can survive well enough if they’re planted a little later in the seasons.
For best results, bareroot blueberries should be planted while they are still dormant to minimize the risk of transplant shock.
To reduce competition with the grass, mulching the area is a wise idea. Mulches like peat moss and pine needles also help to keep the moisture level consistent, keeping the soil conditions in optimal ranges.
An acidic fertilizer helps the plant thrive when blossoming, and adding 2 ounces of ammonium sulfate 18” away from the plant is ideal. You’ll want to increase the amount of fertilizer next year to 3 ounces, then 4, but don’t add any more than 4 ounces.
Protecting your plants from birds and other animals is important, since the berries are highly valuable to them. You may need up to a 6-foot fence to keep deer out, and to tackle the birds, you will need a framework netting or chicken wire to discourage them.
You can do this project yourself or have a professional handle it for you.
Speaking of delicious blueberries, you’ll want to pick these delicious berries when they reach a deep blue color.
It’s all right to pick them when they are a little underripe, since they will still ripen well enough in room temperature weather, but you don’t want to let them overripen and sit on the branch.
If you do, you risk attracting unwanted guests, such as the Drosophila fruit flies, which can become a nuisance in your garden.
Once you’ve picked them, you can eat them fresh, and they will keep a few days at room temperature. For long-term storage, you’ll want to refrigerate them (up to a week is ok) or freeze them.
Companion Plants for Blueberries
Pairing blueberries with other plants is often a wise decision since it encourages stronger growth and repels pests, strengthening the biodiversity in the garden as a whole and helping your blueberries thrive.
Of course, the best companion plants for blueberries are ones that are adapted to and survive well in similar conditions, including the pH of the soil, microbiome, temperature, sunlight requirements, and other key factors necessary for blueberries to survive.
With that being said, here are the top companion plants for blueberries to enhance your garden and add some delicious home-grown treats.
It comes as no surprise that strawberries and blueberries pair so well together. Both prefer acidic soil, allowing each to thrive in ideal conditions.
Just make sure, as with any companion plant, that you leave plenty of space around the base of the blueberry so that it doesn’t need to compete with the strawberries for water and nutrients.
The perennial powerhouse is the perfect pairing with blueberries. This plant loves the moist, acidic soil that blueberries thrive in, and it serves the added purpose of serving as a secondary mulch.
When the leaves die and fall off, the organic matter in those leaves helps the blueberry plant lock in moisture and draw nutrients from the ground.
Comfrey is also absolutely stunning and has soft, fuzzy leaves with bell-shaped flowers. It’s quite hardy, which means that you don’t have to give it as much love for it to do well in your garden. Just take note that comfrey is, by definition, quite invasive, so make sure to shear it back aggressively if it starts to encroach on your blueberries’ space.
Another great companion for blueberries is basil. As with the others, it handles acidic soil very well and doesn’t need much attention to itself, leaving you free to tend to your blueberries more often.
The strong scent of basil is unpleasant to many insects and pests that would otherwise be plaguing your garden, so it makes a great solution to tiny pests.
Additionally, basil doesn’t compete with blueberries for nutrients and isn’t tall enough in most cases to block your blueberries’ need for full sun, leaving you free to plant the two side by side without affecting their performance.
This one will probably seem pretty obvious if you remember that pine needles are among the best natural mulchers for blueberries.
Better yet, pine trees serve the very important purpose of acidifying the soil, allowing you to create the perfect conditions for blueberries.
If you’ve got the space and the time, plant a pine tree and let it grow for 3 months or longer before planning blueberries to create an ideal soil microclimate for the blueberries to thrive in.
A great option for keeping those pesky deer away from your garden, ferns produce rather stiff foliage that isn’t pleasant to wade through or chew, discouraging visitors who’d otherwise be snatching your hard-earned blueberries.
They’re quite hardy and manage just fine in acidic soil and partial sun. They also help to hold moisture in the ground and are easy to maintain.
Low to the ground, thyme is a great natural mulch for blueberry bushes. It helps to cover the ground and keep the soil moist. Naturally, thyme prefers slightly acidic soil and won’t be a competitor for your blueberry bushes.
Better yet, thyme smells wonderful to us but not so great to rabbits, deer, and other pesky insects. Keeping this plant around your blueberry can help prevent insects from taking over your garden and discourage deer from rummaging around your garden.
Another excellent companion of blueberries, borage is a great choice because it also encourages the presence of bees, butterflies, and beetles, all of which will be after the pollen this herb produces.
Blueberries are self-pollinating, but while they don’t need the help of these creatures to grow, it still benefits them all the same.
Cross-pollination of blueberry plants has a number of benefits, including allowing the plant to ripen more evenly and produce larger fruit, mainly due to the fact that agent pollination occurs earlier than self-pollination.
Over time, this process can make your blueberries more resilient and only bodes well for your garden as a whole. Encouraging biodiversity is always a step in the right direction for gardeners.
Aside from the benefits borage offers, it’s plain old beautiful and has gorgeous bell-shaped flowers. If you haven’t already, consider adding this easy, fast-growing annual herb to your garden.
Believe it or not, beans are a great companion for blueberries since they serve a wide variety of roles in your garden.
First and foremost, they are excellent at transforming the soil, converting the already-present nitrogen into a better, absorbable form that nearby plants can take advantage of. In the long run, adding beans to your garden can increase your berry yield from your blueberries.
As such, their primary role in your garden is enriching the soil for your berries and other plants, and you can choose climbing beans, peas, or bush beans as great options for variety in your garden.
For best results, plant your beans near the bushes or use them as a cover crop by plowing them under after they die back at the end of the season. This dynamically alters the composition of the soil to benefit your blueberries.
This ornamental may not have been on your radar as a great companion to blueberries, but don’t count this one out.
Azaleas are a great plant for pollinators and can encourage hummingbirds and bees to visit your garden.
Azaleas thrive in similar conditions to blueberries and look beautiful to boot. As with borage, azaleas can encourage cross-pollination, potentially improving your yield on your blueberry bushes.
Just be aware that azaleas will demand resources from the soil, potentially competing with your blueberry bushes if you plant them too close. Stick to keeping this ornamental 5-7’ apart to have them grow together.
Blueberry Companions to Avoid
While there are a number of great companions for blueberries, there are some that you should avoid at all costs.
These plants don’t get along with blueberries for a number of reasons, but the most important two are that these plants prefer alkaline or pH-neutral soil and that they will compete with blueberries for resources.
Tempting as it may be, don’t plant tomatoes near your blueberries. Tomatoes don’t like soil as acidic as blueberries, but that’s not the main reason these two don’t grow well together.
Both tomatoes and blueberries require a lot of nutrients from the ground to grow and yield properly, and they will constantly fight for resources, reducing the yield of both significantly.
Of course, if you grow these two in separate containers or on opposite sides of your gardens, then you’re good to go.
Pretty much any nightshade vegetable is bad with blueberries, but eggplants are massive resource hogs and will drain the life out of your blueberries if you plant them nearby.
Worse yet, eggplants come with their own slue of pests that will be more than happy to munch away at your blueberries.
These pests include aphids, stink bugs, and mites.
Last on our list of poor companions is onions. Frequently, onions do a great job of repelling insects and mammals who would love to munch your plants, making them a great companion plant in general.
They are not good for blueberries, however, because they suck so many minerals out of the ground.
As such, if you’re growing your blueberries bare-root, you shouldn’t have onions nearby. If your blueberries are potted, on the other hand, then feel free to place them near your onions to reap the benefit of this stinky plant.
There are a number of great companion plants for blueberries that can help enrich and acidify the soil, add nitrogen, ward off pests, and keep the ground moist.
Also, blueberries, in combination with these plants, can also be very decorative...