It has become much easier to find & buy blueberry plants to grow in your garden in South Africa, since I started this blog in 2014. Back then they were almost impossible to find. December is the main blueberry season in South Africa, but our supermarkets have been stocking the berries since early spring. The main picture above is of the unripe clusters of berries on one of my two Brigittas(foreground, and in the two smaller pots are O’Neal & Gulf Coast).
Although the blueberry plants are being sold in more and more places, the information out there at the garden centres is frankly TERRIBLE. I’ve spoken to workers and managers at several of these nurseries and their knowledge about growing blueberries leaves much to be desired. If you don’t do your own research you’ll either kill your plant (which means you might buy more & the nurseries make more money), or you’ll get frustrated from not getting any fruit and then give up.
It has taken me two years of growing, researching and a bit of work to get from small 10cm potted plants to huge bushes and clusters of berries like this:
The most important two pieces of information I want to share with all new blueberry growers in SA are:
1. Blueberries require acid soil, so don’t plant them in your flowerbeds or in a pot with ordinary potting soil. The need acid growing mix and acid fertiliser.
2. For the most part blueberries need another, compatible variety that flowers at the same time for cross-pollination.
Most nurseries seem to be selling only one variety & the staff are puzzled when I ask about pollination. These plants come from wholesale nurseries that deal with several varieties so they will often have been pollinated there and have little berries on them, but if you don’t get a compatible variety you will not see fruit again the next year.
Ok, here are the nurseries where I have found blueberries for sale recently:
It seems if you are a blueberry fan Boksburg is the place to be, because I know of two nurseries on the same road that stock blueberry plants.
1. The Garden Shop’s various branches
a) I bought my best variety, Brigitta, at the Greenlyn Village branch, Thomas Edison street in Pretoria East back in 2014. As of October 2016, they still stock them.
b) In July 2016 I spotted more at Flora Farm, Northrand Road in Boksburg
2. Cocoplum nursery in Garsfontein, Pretoria East (Brian doesn’t have a website, but you can Google the nursery name as he advertises in Junkmail etc). He has many varieties grown from tissue culture. However, they are extremely small upon purchase & a bit expensive. If you want a bigger plant & fruit within the year, look elsewhere.
3. Heckers Nursery on Northrand Road in Boksburg
4. Kilner Park Nursery in Pretoria (Moot area). My friend bought me O’neal and Gulf Coast varieties there. They have more. Gulf Coast performed the best of these two.
5. Strawberry Pot, Eldoraigne Centurion (only had 4 plants of the Powderblue variety but indicated they had lots of stock earlier)
6. Lifestyle Garden Centre, Randpark Ridge, Johannesburg (they had mostly Gulf Coast and few of what looked like Brigitta, all looking extremely healthy and productive)
7. Plant Ranch in Centurion
Below: Loads of Gulf Coast blueberry plants at Lifestyle:
Below: My O’Neal & Gulf Coast blueberries from Kilnerpark nursery (before repotting into larger containers), in front of one of my Brigitta Blueberries from The Garden Shop, Greenlyn. Both locations in Pretoria.
Tips & Important Information:
- Remember that you need to buy at least two different varieties that flower at the same time, so that they can pollinate each other. Search for Blueberry pollination charts. I’ve read some sources stating Brigitta is a self-pollinating variety.
- Blueberries require acid soil / compost & acid fertliser. You can’t plant them in normal compost & soil.
- I’ve found my best perfoming varieties in Gauteng, South Africa are 1) Brigitta, 2) Centurion & 3) Gulf Coast in that order.
Watch my video on how to repot your blueberries once you have them at home.
Watch my video on tasting my first homegrown blueberry in 2015