When Does A Blueberry Bush Bear Fruit?


If you recently planted blueberry bushes in your yard, you may not have any fruit on the bushes just yet.  In that case, you are probably wondering when blueberry bushes bear fruit, and if there is anything you can do to help them along.

So, when does a blueberry bush bear fruit?  A blueberry bush will produce fruit between June and August, after blooming in spring and early summer.  A blueberry bush will produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting, reaching full production after 6 years and full size after 8 to 10 years.

Of course, depending on the variety of blueberry bush you plant, it may take a longer time for your bush to begin producing fruit.  Other factors such as improper pruning, over fertilization, and environmental conditions can all delay the growth of fruit on your blueberry bush.  Let’s take a closer look at blueberry bushes, when they bear fruit, and the factors that can affect your harvest.

When Does A Blueberry Bush Bear Fruit?

Depending on the variety, a blueberry bush can bear fruit as early as June, or as late as August.  The flowers are white, pink, or red, appearing on the bush in spring and early summer.

blueberry bush
A blueberry bush will bloom in spring to early summer and produce fruit in June, July, or August.

Some varieties of blueberries are self-pollinating, and others are not.  Keep in mind that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination – more on this later.

Do Blueberry Bushes Produce Fruit Every Year?

No, blueberry bushes do not produce fruit every year.  Usually, it will take 2 to 3 years for a blueberry bush to mature to the point where it can produce fruit.

blueberries
A blueberry bush needs 2 to 3 years to become mature enough to produce fruit. It will produce lots of fruit after 6 years, and will reach full size in 8 to 10 years.

For more information, check out this article from the Stark Brothers website on the number of years to get blueberries and other berries.

Even if your plant is ready to produce fruit sooner than that, you should pinch off the flowers in the first couple of years of growth.  This will let the blueberry bush put its energy into stronger roots and branches, rather than producing a tiny bit of small fruit.

You can expect your blueberry bush to reach full production after about 6 years.  The plant will reach full height between 8 and 10 years, and can produce fruit for up to 20 years with proper care (more on this later).

For more information, check out my article on how big blueberry a bush will get.

You can also check out this article from the University of Minnesota Extension on growing blueberries at home.

When planting new blueberry bushes, you should plant in early to mid-spring.

Remember that problems like frost injury of flowers, over pruning of branches, and over fertilization of the bush can delay fruiting on a blueberry bush by a year or more.

How Much Fruit Does A Blueberry Bush Produce?

A healthy blueberry bush that has reached maturity (2 to 3 years after planting) can produce several quarts of blueberries per year.  For more information, check out this article on high bush blueberries from the University of Main Extension.

pink blueberries
Some blueberries produce pink fruit, including the “Pink Lemonade” variety, listed below.

According to the University of Georgia Extension, “By the sixth year they can yield as much as 2 gallons per plant. The yield will continue to increase for several years as the plants get larger if given good care.”

For more information, check out this article on home garden blueberries from the University of Georgia Extension.

How Long Do Blueberry Bushes Live?

Blueberry bushes can live for 40 to 50 years, given the proper care.  As mentioned earlier, they will reach full size within 10 years.

That means you could have a fully-grown bush yielding full-size blueberry harvests for decades to come!

What Kind Of Blueberries Should I Plant?

When selecting a blueberry bush, make sure to choose one that you can grow in your climate!  For more information, check out the USDA Zone Hardiness Map to see what zone you are in.

There are four basic types of blueberry bushes to choose from:

  • Highbush – 4 to 7 feet tall, these are the most common variety
  • Lowbush – 1 to 2 feet tall, these are good for cold climates, and the shortest of all four types
  • Hybrid half-high – 3 to 4 feet tall
  • Rabbiteye – 10 to 15 feet tall, these are good for warm climates, and the tallest of the four types

Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Here are some blueberry varieties of different types that you might want to try:

Do You Need Two Blueberry Bushes To Get Fruit?

If a blueberry bush is self-fertile (or self-pollinating), then you only need one bush to produce fruit.  All of the bushes listed earlier in this article are self-pollinating.

bumblebee
Some blueberry bushes are self-pollinating, but having more than one plant is still a good idea to increase yield and length of growing season.

However, self-fertile blueberry bushes will produce better and have a longer season if cross-pollinated with other blueberry bushes.

Blueberry bushes that are not self-pollinating (called self-unfruitful) will require two or more bushes of the same type for cross pollination (e.g. two lowbush varieties, two highbush varieties, etc.).

Before selecting blueberry bushes to plant, make sure that the two bushes bloom around the same time, so that successful cross-pollination can occur.

If there are no bees around to help with pollination, you may need to use an electric toothbrush to pollinate by hand.

For more information, check out this article from the University of Vermont Extension on growing blueberries.

What Other Factors Can Affect Fruit On Blueberry Bushes?

The quality of care that you give your blueberry bushes will help to decide how much fruit you get each year.  Some of the most important factors are temperature, watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Temperature

Most varieties of blueberries can survive up to Zone 4 or 5, and some can survive as far south as Zones 9 or 10.  The reason blueberry bushes may not survive further south is because they require a certain number of chilling hours in the winter.

Blueberry bushes may require between 200 and 600 chilling hours in the winter.  A chilling hour is an hour between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 7 degrees Celsius).

If a blueberry bush does not get enough chilling hours, it will not break dormancy in the spring. This will lead to a complete lack of flowers and fruit that year.

One other hazard to your blueberry harvest is a late spring frost.  A cold snap after a blueberry bush breaks dormancy in the spring can kill all of the flowers on the bush.

This may be frustrating if you live in a warm area, but it is nature’s way of protecting the bush.  If the bush flowers too early during a mild winter, a late spring frost can kill all of the flowers and destroy any chance of a blueberry harvest that year.

Before purchasing blueberry bushes, make sure that your climate gets enough chilling hours in the winter to produce fruit, while also staying warm enough to keep the tree alive.

Watering

Avoid letting the soil get too dry for too long, especially if you have young blueberry bushes.  Blueberry bushes are shallow rooted, so they need more water than most other fruits.

garden hose
Be careful not to over water or under water your blueberry bushes!

If you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on preventing dry soil.

On the other hand, over watering can spell death for your blueberry bush, due to root rot or fungal diseases.  For more information, check out my article on over watering.

Fertilizing

Before you plant a blueberry bush, add some compost to your soil.  It will provide organic material and nutrients for your bush as it grows.  The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!

compost bin
Compost is a great way to replace organic material and nutrients in your soil to help your blueberry bushes grow.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.

It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if you soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.

For more information, check out my article on soil testing.

If you do decide to fertilize, do so in the early spring, when your blueberry bush breaks dormancy.

Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your blueberry bushes by over fertilizing them.  For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your blueberry bush from producing any fruit.

For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

Pruning

There is no need to prune your blueberry bush until after the third year.  However, after that point, you should prune annually to remove old, nonproductive wood from the plant and encourage new growth.

You should also remove wood that is more than 6 years old on highbush blueberry varieties.

For more information, check out this article from the Burpee website on growing blueberry plants.

You can also check out this article on blueberries from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Conclusion

By now, you have a good idea of when blueberry bushes are mature enough to produce fruit (2 to 3 years old), and what time of year to expect fruit (June to August).  You also know a bit more about how to take care of blueberry bushes and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice about blueberry bushes, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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