Anyone growing blueberries in Central Texas?

Xtal(z8b Temple. TX)November 10, 2008

I've been giving some thought to planting blueberries but live in Central Texas on alkaline soil. Has anyone had any experience in this area and if so, would you mind sharing your knowledge? I know that I'll have to amend the soil but I'm wondering if I should grow them in a large pot or whether the ground would be sufficient.

I'm interested in anything you might have to share.

Xtal

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prairielaura(6b)

I've got two or three small, sad blueberry bushes, but then they are less than three years old...they will produce fruit if you have at least two. They prefer shady conditions and lots of water in our climate. When I forget to water them often enough, they just quietly die with no fanfare whatever. But considering that there are commercial blueberry growers in Texas now, I am clear that it is possible. Someone said to add just a little vinegar to water you give them to help counter the alkalinity...I use coffee grounds sometimes. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 8:48AM
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texasflip(Nacogdoches, TX z8)

Farkleberry is a close relative of blueberries whose native range extends into parts of central Texas. They are more tolerant of alkaline soil but supposedly their fruit are tough and bitter(I've never had the chance to taste them) and they grow into tall shrubs.

Just thought I'd put that out there. I wonder if they have ever grafted blueberries onto farkleberry rootstocks.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 12:58PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

My sister grew blueberries in Lexngton, not too far south of you, and they produced an abundant supply. They do like a shady area in which to thrive.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 11:31PM
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seagrapes(z8b TX/Austin (Georgetown))

I'm growing them here in Austin, but it's not effortless. They are high maintenance in this climate/soil. What I did was excavate out a lot of soil (about 4 feet x 3 feet x 2 feet deep) and replace it with sand, mushroom compost, greensand, ironite, and bagged topsoil from the big box store. In this area I planted 2 rabbiteye blueberries and I've had 3 years worth of crops from them. This year, it got REALLY dry, and my Tifblue bit the dust (I should have watered it more). Climax is still hanging in there, and is about to change colors for fall. Also, I have a southern highbush blueberry growing in a pot on the porch. I've had it for about 2 years, and it produced well this past spring. They're pretty easy in 5 gallon or larger pots, as long as you keep them watered.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 12:32AM
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verdant_lady

Go with High bush blueberries. They are the only ones that will do anything in Texas. There are many varieties so research the ones that will do well in your particular area. They have different ripening times as well so if you choose different ones carefully you can extend your harvest time.

The most important thing is that they absolutely MUST have acid soil or you are wasting your money. In the Dallas area, where I am, everything is alkaline but fortunately they are one of the few plants that will grow well in pure peat. I have three bushes that I am growing in peat in whiskey barrels and they are doing well. You could also grow them in a tall raised bed using peat if your soil isn't acid.

Also, test your water. If it is alkaline they won't like it. I water mine exclusively from my rain barrels.
It is a bit of trouble to get everything to their liking but once you do they should grow for you.

Verdant

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 9:55PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Good luck with that. You know, of course, that the first element of successful gardening is to grow plants well adapted to your soil and climate ;-)

My mother grew up in central Pennsylvania and spent summers on the farm. She used to think blueberries grew well in PA because she and her sister could go out and collect enough berries in one morning to make a pie. Then my mother moved to Canada. Up there she could pick enough blueberries in one handful to make three pies. Apparently up there they grow in clusters the size of your head.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 12:06PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

Farkleberry isn't bad when ripe, just annoying to get enough of them picked to make something out of them. My kids and I will eat them off the bush as a snack in season when we are walking about the property, but my ultimate goal is to get some transplanted closer to the house as a rootstock to graft to.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:58PM
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