I always wanted my garden to be vibrant and full of life. And to me, color is synonymous with life. While flowers were doing what I call “the aesthetic heavy-lifting,” it still seemed like I was missing something. So, I decided to get some blueberries in the mix. The small tinge of blue changed my garden’s overall texture.
Initially, my intention for getting blueberries in my garden was to paint my garden anew. As the health benefits started kicking in, I was in love with these little blue balls of sunshine. Also, whenever I felt like getting a delicious refreshment, all I had to do was stroll down to my garden and pick out a handful.
Still, the journey was long and painful.
At first, I was going in circles. That is until I got to know about the best fertilizer for blueberries. However, the fertilizer alone, without my conscious effort, would amount to nothing. It works both ways actually, without the fertilizer, all the effort in the world would go up in smoke.
So, I thought I would make the journey easier for people who are struggling (like I did) by giving you a few pointers I wish I had. I’ll talk about the best fertilizers and how you can use them to their full potential; let’s hop in.
- Top Fertilizers for Blueberries – My Recommendations
- Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food
- Espoma HT18 Holly Tone
- Jobe’s Organics 09727 Berry Granular Plant Food
- EcoScraps for Organic Gardening Berry Plant Food
- Espoma Organic Berry-tone
- Espoma HT4 Holly-Tone
- Winchester Gardens Berry Granular Fertilizer
- The Factors I Kept in Mind while Doing My Research
- Blueberry Fertilization (How and When)
- Pulling the Curtains Down
Top Fertilizers for Blueberries – My Recommendations
As I just said, I had to walk a problem-strewn path to reach the blueberry-destination. All of this could have been avoided if I only had a complete understanding of the fertilizers.
To save you from the troublesome journey I had, I handpicked 7 different blueberry fertilizers. I’ll share the experience I had with these fertilizers, and they helped me get the blueberry garden of my dreams.
I’m familiar with the magic Miracle-Gro can perform with plants. So, once I decided to get some blueberries, I had to see if this fertilizer would come through for me again. I still had my reservations because of the price. But I went ahead and tried it anyway.
I was glad that I tried this fertilizer first on the blueberries. I should tell you that blueberries are acid-junkies. So, no matter how much nutrients you push into the soil, without an intense acid presence, there would be zero results.
The Miracle-Gro Water Soluble had a reasonable mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or NPK. With a 30-10-10 combination, my soil’s pH-level was below the neutral zone. The reduced pH-level is what you should aim for when you’re trying to grow blueberries as well.
While I didn’t get the soil tested to find the exact numbers, I’m pretty sure it was around 4-5, judging by the performance. Blueberries can absorb nutrients at a greater rate if the pH-level is kept at this number.
Also, this fertilizer is granular. It may not seem like a benefit per se, but trust me, it is. Put next to the liquid fertilizer; granular particles release the nutrients slowly. Overfeeding can lead to the premature death of blueberries. So, the slow-feed property of granular particles is the way to go.
The Miracle-Gro comes in 6 different packs, and people often tend to look past this amazing feature. It may seem insignificant at first glance, but the liberty to choose is always a blessing.
Thus, if you’re not completely on board with this fertilizer, you can simply opt for a less-than-$10 starter pack. It’ll help you get an idea of the fertilizer’s performance, and you can get a bigger one down the road.
I used this fertilizer with the Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder. I’m not saying you have to follow in my footsteps. Still, if my observations serve me right, I would say this fertilizer partners well with the Garden Feeder. You can use a watering can too.
A gallon of water prepped with 1 tablespoon of granule should do the trick.
I’ve been aboard the Miracle-Gro bandwagon for a long time, and I don’t see any reason to step down. The performance speaks for itself. However, compared to other fertilizers of Miracle-Gro, the Soluble Plant Food for acid-craving plants is expensive. Your wallet may end up gasping for air after purchasing a pack.
Also, I had to use the signature Miracle-Gro spreader to unleash the fertilizer’s true potential. I purchased it for a different purpose, so I didn’t mind using the accessory.
However, having to buy it separately is another headache the user has to go through. There is a workaround though, you can use a watering can, but the performance can be a little lackluster.
I’ve used the Miracle-Gro for years, but expenses that came along with it were starting to pile up. I was looking for a way out. However, I had this fear in the back of my mind that the fertilizer quality won’t be up to par if I thin out my budget.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, I kept digging, and in came the Espoma HT18 as a knight in shining armor.
Blueberries can’t take intense doses of nutrients. Doesn’t matter whether the nutrients pushed in are beneficial. Blueberries prefer slow and periodic consumption. So, the Espoma HT18 doesn’t let all the nutrients out in one go. It’s a slow-feed fertilizer, and it takes time for the ingredients to reach the roots.
Once I applied it during early spring, I had to wait for more than a month before the second application. So, the nutrient dispersion rate in this fertilizer is ideal for blueberries. It seeps into the soil slowly without rocking the roots too much, and that’s how blueberries like it.
Besides, blueberries crave for acid. The feed-speed (slow or fast) won’t matter if these acid-junkies don’t get what they want. No worries- this fertilizer has all the nutrients required to meet the acid-thirst of blueberries. It can control the pH-level of the soil and keep the acid flowing.
I’ve checked the NPK ratio on this, and it’s 5-3-3. I was taken aback initially because compared to the Miracle-Gro’s 30-10-10, it seemed insignificant. However, all my doubts were wiped clean as I got to know the ideal NPK numbers for blueberries are 1-1-1. So, the Espoma does it better.
Also, the presence of magnesium and sulfur in this fertilizer plays a key role in blueberry growth as well. The latter improves iron consumption, and getting more iron helps blueberries perform photosynthesis. Magnesium has the same role as iron in plants except for breaking down phosphates.
Before all this science talk gets to your head, let me clarify. In short, this fertilizer has an optimal amount of all nutrients a blueberry could ask for and more. I remember after the first application, the blueberries in my garden were happy as a lark.
The fertilizer also comes in 5 different packs. I prefer using the 18lb pack as it helps me cover more ground. However, you can try the 4lb variant for a test run.
With a hand on heart, I would say that I have no misgivings about the Espoma HT18 Holly Tone. When my friend asked me- what’s the best fertilizer for blueberries- I recommend this fertilizer in a heartbeat. It’s not like I didn’t try to find a fault; trust me- I did. I just got blinded by its performance. Also, the price doesn’t even faze me after the performance I’ve witnessed.
Still, if I had to nitpick deep into this fertilizer, I would say sometimes the packaging can be a headache. While I haven’t faced the issue personally, I’ve heard my neighbors complain about the stubborn pack that doesn’t want to open.
I suppose I could’ve stopped my quest for blueberry fertilizer because I hit the jackpot with the Espoma HT18. However, I didn’t want to leave any stones unturned, so I continued with my venture. A few conversations with my neighbor, coupled with some online research, led me to Jobe’s Organic.
When it comes to blueberry growth, what truly sets Jobe’s Organic Berry Plant Food apart is the impeccable NPK ratio. Other fertilizers have a lot of things going for them, but in strict NPK measurement, this fertilizer takes the crown.
The 4-4-4 NPK is synonymous with the 1-1-1 that I’ve touted to be beneficial for blueberries. However, the perfect combination comes at a price. Well, I’ll talk about it later.
So, the nutrients present in this fertilizer are in perfect order, but the release is a little faster than I prefer. I’ve already established that blueberries require slow-feed fertilizer because hasty and excessive feeding can result in weak roots, improper growth, and discoloration.
This fertilizer is quick to act. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean it’s unusable. It’s still way slower than liquid fertilizers. All I’m saying is you have to be on your toes when applying this fertilizer.
While you may have laughed at or enjoyed the occasional oops-moment with other fertilizer, you have to be alert with this one.
Another nifty feature of Jobe’s Organic is its soil-conditioning ability. I never had to use this feature as I always maintain the soil in both the lawn and garden. However, if you’ve somehow neglected your lawn-duty, and you want to revitalize the soil, this fertilizer can do the trick.
However, soil-conditioning is a lengthy process. There is no magic to getting the soil’s potency back. So, even if you use the Jobe’s Organic, you have to strap in for the long haul. As far as I can tell, a quarter-yearly application should be enough to get any soil back up to its feet.
Also, the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) deemed this fertilizer to be safe for both humans and animals. Not that the other fertilizer I’ve reviewed up to now is harmful to any extent. But a certification from the safety gurus makes this fertilizer an organic-fanatic’s first choice.
Honestly, I was satisfied with what Jobe’s Organic had to offer. However, the price was a hard pill to swallow. I said earlier that the impeccable NPK ratio of this fertilizer comes at a cost. And yes, the cost is a tough mountain to climb.
I understand that the NPK ratio, OMRI certification, quick results, soil-revitalizing properties justify the price tag. Still, I think if soil-conditioning is not in the picture, and you only want to fertilize blueberries, the Jobe’s Organic Plant Food is not something I would recommend.
While fertilizers are the tried-and-true method for plant growth, the environment and fertilizers don’t always get along. The chemicals that benefit one plant can have a negative effect on another. I’m not claiming to be an environmentalist. But we should take responsibility for our actions. So, this environment-friendly drive took me to the EcoScraps Organic Plant Food.
Once I got this fertilizer, my friends and neighbors bombarded me with two questions. How does garbage scraps work as fertilizer? And can it hold its ground against more powerful chemical fertilizers? Well, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward. Let me explain.
Agriculture has been a part of human history since the beginning. The age of packed and prepared fertilizers came years later. So, if humans were able to produce once without the need for chemicals, we can do it again, right? This principle lies in the heart of EcoScraps Organic.
Now coming to the second question- no, it’s not as effective as chemical fertilizers. Let’s face it- having an eco-friendly product that’s also power-packed is a utopia. So, that’s one drawback I had to contend with when I got this fertilizer.
While it may not be as powerful as its chemically-infused counterparts, it’s no slouch either. I’ve used it for one season, and the results were better than I expected. There is a pinch here, though. I kept my expectations leashed when I walked into the garden with this fertilizer.
Besides, the EcoScraps Organic, albeit its effectiveness, is slower than the other granular fertilizers. It takes the slow-feed property a step further. So, if you miss the ideal fertilizing time, the substance won’t have enough time to inject the nutrients for full blueberry growth.
According to the label, the NPK ratio is 5-4-6. However, this number isn’t consistent because the signature garbage scraps used in this fertilizer make it nearly impossible to maintain a strict NPK ratio. Still, I believe anything close to the number 5-4-6 is good enough for blueberries.
I got this fertilizer in the first place because I was moved by the manufacturer’s commitment to the environment. However, it’s my duty to highlight the issues even if the fertilizer promotes a noble cause. You’ll get very little flexibility when it comes to applying the fertilizer. Miss your growing season, and you would go nowhere with blueberries. So, the extra-slow-release can hurt.
While the manufacturer is a friend of the environment, it’s no friend of the buyer’s wallet. The price is quite steep, and you may end up shelling out a lot of green before you get any substantial results.
Also, there is a chance of your pet dog going ham on this fertilizer. I don’t know why and how it happens. Perhaps it’s the garbage scraps. Anyways, the science behind this unusual happening isn’t important. Just remember to keep an eye out before you get this fertilizer anywhere close to your pet.
The Espoma HT-18 made a believer out of me after one application. So, I had no reservations jumping straight into another fertilizer from this manufacturer. I’ve heard talks of the Espoma Berry-tone outperforming the HT-18 when it comes to blueberries. I couldn’t resist seeing it myself.
I kept looking for the game-changer that made the Berry-tone different. The labels were pretty much the same. This fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 4-3-4, similar to the HT-18. So, I began to wonder what makes the Berry-tone stand out from its highly accomplished sibling.
I believe the stand-out property of this fertilizer is its all-organic ingredients. While the previous fertilizer from Espoma had a tinge of chemicals, the Berry-tone has none. Also, the pH-level control it provides is comparatively better.
You can apply it throughout the year, but to reap the best harvest, I would recommend an early spring application. Once I put the fertilizer down in due time, I waited for summer to reap the benefits.
And the treats were as tastier than the trials I’ve endured. This fertilizer puts blueberry growth into overdrive. I’ve neither witnessed nor tasted such plumper and juicier blueberries- I must say.
Also, there is no need to go into the trouble of getting a sprayer/spreader. All I had to do was simply pour the fertilizer around the drip line and water it in for it to reach the roots. However, the amount you need to apply is trickier than the application procedure per se.
I took a measuring tape to observe the length of my blueberries’ roots. When it was working with this fertilizer, the roots were around two and a half feet. So, I needed 2.5 cups of fertilizer according to the instructions.
However, the blueberries in my garden suffered the previous year. So, I increased the dose by a little bit. I had my fingers crossed because I went against the instruction, but the results were incredible.
I wouldn’t tell you to experiment with your garden if you’re not willing to accept the aftermath. I was ready for hell and high water, and if you’re not, just stick to the instructions.
In short, I loved the Espoma Berry-tone as much I loved their other fertilizer, the Espoma HT-18 Holly Tone. However, my heart goes out to the latter because it doesn’t choke my budget. Yes- if I had to point out one drawback to this fertilizer, that would be the cost.
I know the results are awe-inspiring. The moment you see the garden burn blue with blueberries, you would forget about how much money you’ve spent. Still, if you’re running low on funds, the Berry-tone’s blessings will sadly be out of reach.
I loved using this fertilizer, and if you can afford it, I’m pretty sure you would too. To me, it’s a close second in the race of becoming the best fertilizer for blueberries.
Before I call it quits, I decided to take one last fertilizer from Espoma out for a ride. The manufacturer has a lot of products catering to different needs, but I was focused on blueberries. While the HT4 didn’t move me as much as the other two Espoma fertilizers on this list, it didn’t let me down either.
I wanted to test the strength of the HT4 and see whether it could live up to the reputation set by its predecessors. So, I tried it out on a fresh batch of blueberry seeds to see how it would fare. I didn’t go against the instruction this time around as I did with the Berry-tone. Still, I have to say- the results were quite impressive.
The 4-3-4 NPK ratio is more than enough for blueberry growth. Also, the presence of magnesium and sulfur is an added boost. Most of the nutrients are in raw form, so I needed to water in the fertilizer.
Besides, the nutrients can reconstruct the soil’s pH-level to make it more acidic. As I’ve mentioned countless times, blueberries thrive in an acid-abundant environment. So, this neat feature is not just an accessory but a must-have.
The perfect time to apply the HT4 is late spring. However, I missed the mark one season because I was busy with a home renovation project. After missing the ideal grow-time by nearly 30 days, I tried my luck by putting down this fertilizer to see whether it could save a sinking ship.
It may sound out of place, but the HT4 somehow managed to save the blueberries.
I admit the growth wasn’t exactly spectacular that season. The blueberries were smaller, and some of them tasted pretty weird. Still, I can’t put the blame on Espoma HT4 because it was my jammed schedule that prevented me from applying the fertilizer on time.
Also, the chemicals don’t affect the soils. While the manufacturer claims it’s safe for pets and children, I didn’t want to risk it. I would recommend you do the same. It’s not like you have to wait for 24-48 hours after one application.
Just give it at least 2-4 hours before you let anybody trample it. Not only will it keep your family members safe, but it will also let the fertilizer kick in- so to me, it’s a win-win.
However, it’s not all sunshine in the Espoma HT4’s house. I remember applying this fertilizer for the first time. The smell of poop was so nerve-racking, all I could think of was moving away without even watering the fertilizer.
Also, the price can seem a bit intimidating for a budget hunter. I think the performance justifies the price. Still, if it were a few bucks less, I would’ve put the HT4 on top of every other fertilizer.
All my friends and neighbors know how intense I am about my garden and lawn. It’s a sword that cuts both ways. One of the perks of being a popular lawn-nut is I get free stuff from time to time, and the Winchester Gardens Granular Fertilizer was a Christmas present. So, I got a separate blueberry pot just to see this fertilizer in action.
If I stop beating around the bush, I’d say the Winchester Gardens can give even the top dogs a run for their money. After a few months of putting the fertilizer down, the branches and leaves seemed pretty healthy. However, a few branches were dead, and I had to prune them out, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker.
The NPK ratio is an ascending 2-3-4. I can’t say the combination is bad. However, I would prefer to have more nitrogen because it helps in root strengthening. Also, nitrogen promotes nutrient absorption. So, I’m not particularly thrilled with the NPK of this fertilizer, but it can work.
I think the star of the show in Winchester Gardens is the super-fine particles. Granular fertilizers are spherical particles, and they can be either fine or fat. While the former or latter shapes don’t have any hold whatsoever when it comes to performance, finer particles are easy to disperse.
So, I was able to reach the nooks and crannies of the blueberry bush thanks to the super-fine particles. I saw the fertilizers seep into the roots after a thorough watering. Also, I got more value and coverage out of the 4lb pack because of the tiny, sand-like particles.
Besides, the fertilizer has no repulsive smell. I’ve come across a few fertilizers in my life that tortured my olfactory senses to near death. So, there were no such incidents with the Winchester Gardens.
It’s safe for children and pets as well. At least that’s what the labels say, but I didn’t let anybody walk in for 3-4 hours. I prefer being safe than sorry.
If I had to pick a bone with this fertilizer, it would be the price tag. The cost resides in a rather uncomfortable range. Although the performance does hold up, with the coverage I got wasn’t satisfactory. The problem is- this fertilizer undoubtedly works, but I can get similar performance without pounding my wallet.
So, from where I sit, the Winchester Gardens is smack in the middle of the performance-price spectrum. It’s not trash, but it’s not going to win any medals as well. However, if you have the budget to fall back on, this fertilizer can sure take care of blueberries.
The Factors I Kept in Mind while Doing My Research
Trying to decorate your garden with patches of blueberries can become exhausting if you don’t know what you want. However, what features are worth wanting is another question that numbs an individual. So, before you tear a few beautiful strands off your head, I’ll highlight the features any blueberry beginner should hunt for.
Proper Nutrients are a Must
This part doesn’t need much explanation, right? Without the proper nutrients, all the care and love you shower to your blueberries will be up in smokes. So, the first course of action is to ensure the ingredients are in order.
The key piece of information is that blueberries thrive in an acid-rich environment. So, the fertilizer you get should create said environment. To condition the soil into this state, the NPK ratio should be around 1-1-1. Slight variations won’t be the end of the world, but the closer, the better.
Also, magnesium is another potent ingredient, and you should keep an eye out for it as well. Magnesium helps blueberries create their food.
Note: Run the other direction if you see nitrates tagged in a fertilizer’s label. While nitrates can benefit many other plants, they are blueberry killers. So, the only ingredient you should keep a distance from when choosing the best blueberry fertilizer is nitrate.
The Price-to-Coverage Ratio
The next one’s a no-brainer. How much utility you get from any purchase should be the top concern of any smart person. If you’ve gone through the reviews, you saw that I didn’t give any precise coverage numbers. I didn’t do it because it isn’t possible with blueberry fertilizers.
You have to understand the coverage you’ll get from a pack’s weight. For instance, a 4lb pack will have your back for one season. So, you have to crunch the numbers and see if your budget is in cahoots with the fertilizer’s weight.
If you’re short on funds, I would recommend looking into the Espoma HT-18. It’s not only a penny saver, but it’s also a surprisingly powerful fertilizer.
Slow-feed Takes the Cake
I know a lot of people who always want a quick fix to everything. Well, it doesn’t pan out all the time, especially not with blueberries. You have to take it slow; therefore, getting a slow-feed fertilizer is another priority.
Most blueberry fertilizers are inherently slow-feed, so that’s a relief. Still, you should keep your eyes peeled. Quick-release fertilizers can also work if you’ve missed the ideal fertilization period.
However, don’t push the pedal too hard by getting a liquid fertilizer. Granular fertilizer is the better option when it comes to blueberries by far and large.
Keep Your Safety in Mind
Fertilizers often contain harmful chemicals capable of harming anybody who comes into direct contact. However, most blueberry fertilizers are organic. So, the ingredients do not pose the same threat as weed killers. Still, I prefer putting my best foot forward when safety is in the equation.
Check the label to see whether there are any harmful chemicals present. If no, move on with the application. If yes, you have two options. Either opt for organic fertilizer or be on your guard and follow the instructions to the tee when applying.
Also, keep pets and children away from the treated area even if the fertilizer is organic. I’m not saying it will harm them directly, but you shouldn’t risk it. Besides, giving the fertilizer some time before walking all over will allow it to settle into the roots.
Soil-conditioning Properties Can Help
I know I sound like a broken record, but yes, blueberries love acid-rich soil. You can get all the top-tier fertilizers you want, but if the soil is not acidic, no blueberry shall see the light of day. So, the first thing to do is to get your soil checked. You can do it manually or get professional help.
Once you know the exact pH-level of your soil, you can get down to business. Blueberries prefer a pH-level between 4-5; 4.5 is an ideal middle ground. However, don’t put anything over the soil that will kick the pH-level down dramatically. Let’s say from 9.5 to 5. Such an earthquake in acidity will do more harm than good.
The target should be to take it one step at a time. In one application of soil-conditioning, don’t go beyond a .25 threshold. It means throughout the year; the pH-level reduction program should reduce no more than.5- if you want to go a bit higher, I will draw the line at 1.
Blueberry Fertilization (How and When)
I understand that fertilizers can seem like magical little particles, bringing plants to life. But the truth is- it’s the gardener who deserves the credit here. Without proper knowledge on how to fertilize blueberries, you’ll only be throwing away your money in form of granular particles. So, I’m going to give you a little cheat sheet here to help you. Still, there are more nuances in blueberry farming, and you’ll have to learn a lot as you go.
The perfect time to fertilize blueberries is before the leaves are out. Most of the time, this happens around early spring. So, you should mark that time in your calendar in case you forget.
Although some people prefer one application, there is no strict regulation. Blueberries can be quite self-sufficient once they are up and going, and one application is all they need. However, if you want to give your newly planted blueberry a head-start, you can fertilize it even in the off-season.
The second application should happen 2 months later than the first. You’ll apply the fertilizer depending on how the branches have grown. The general rule is to use half the amount of fertilizer you’ve used in the first application.
Note: Blueberries are late bloomers, so don’t get disappointed if the results are not immediate. While fertilizers can help the wheels turn faster, it can’t disrupt the natural process. So, if you want to get a blueberry plant from its baby state, you would have to wait for at least three years before it bears fruit. In this uphill battle of patience, you have to keep fertilizing regularly and take special care of the tender plant. However, if you just want to munch on some homegrown blueberries without delay, buying a two or three-year-old plant can reduce the dreaded wait time. However, even a full-grown blueberry plant requires fertilizers. So, you can’t sleep on it.
There is only one golden rule when applying fertilizers to blueberry- get it to the roots. Yes- you need to do everything in your power to connect these two dots.
So, how can you go about it?
First, once your blueberry plant is ready for a new home, use a rake to remove the topsoil and dig a hole. Try to make the hole spacious enough for the blueberry plant. Then, take some ground soil and mix it with the fertilizer. Later, put the plant in the mixture similar to putting a baby in the crib and cover it up. Avoid the stems and leaves as much as possible. Any direct fertilizer-to-stem or fertilizer-to-leaf contact is harmful to the plant. Use water around the treated area for better fertilizer absorption.
Instead of creating a hole, you need to loosen the topsoil around the plant. Try to create a circular gap around the grown blueberry. Once it’s done, take the fertilizer and pour it around. Put the topsoil back and water the fertilizer in. Again, try to avoid stem and leaf.
Note: The amount you need to apply will be on the label of each fertilizer. For instance, if your little blueberry’s branches are 1 foot, you’ll need a cup of the Espoma HT-18 Holly Tone. So, how much fertilizer you’ll apply would differ from one to another.
Pulling the Curtains Down
Blueberries are little balls of health and happiness. Not only does the plant make my garden look colorful, but it also gives me a yearly dose of tasty berries. However, you can’t get into the blueberry ballgame if the fertilizer is holding you back.
You shouldn’t cut corners here and get a top-tier fertilizer because, trust me, a blueberry plant in your garden is worth the trouble. So, if I had to declare the winner for being the best fertilizer for blueberries, I would say it’s Espoma HT-18 Holly Tone, with Espoma Berry-tone being a close second.
These two fertilizers are my favorite, but then again, you are entitled to your own opinion. I would like to part ways by saying that- fertilizer will take you halfway, you have put in some time and effort to reach the blueberry finish line!