In the words of my 7-year-old, blueberries make your body strong and healthy! Being delicious on their own, blueberry fruits are also high in antioxidants and excellent at removing free radicals from your body. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K1, manganese, and beneficial plant compounds.
Blueberries make a great addition to a healthy diet: eating them raw, mixed in a smoothie, or baked in a pie for a homemade treat. By adding blueberries to your diet, you may prevent heart disease, moderate your blood sugar levels, and improve brain health. Those tiny berries pack a big punch of healthy benefits!
Growing blueberries hydroponically allows for total control of the environment, ensuring only large blueberries if properly watered and tended. The most delicious blueberries are the plumpest and juiciest of the bunch! Another reason blueberries do well in a hydroponic environment is that the blueberry fruit thrives in wet and moist growing conditions.
Blueberries also require a slightly acidic soil level; with hydroponics, you can completely control the medium’s acidity and nutrient content, ensuring just the right levels are maintained consistently. Another benefit worth noting that blueberries gain in a hydroponic system is increased rootiness, which will lend itself to producing those plump blueberries we’re after!
If you love blueberries as much as we do, then you will love growing them hydroponically. Not only is the taste and quality superior to anything you find in the store, but you can have a year-round blueberry supply. By staggering growth cycles, you can harvest blueberries all year round!
Ideal Hydroponic Blueberry Set-Up
One way to grow blueberries is in an inexpensive poly grow bag. You can also use a 5-gallon bucket to grow blueberries hydroponically or a wicking bed container. You can certainly get creative growing the blueberry plant hydroponically!
Take a look at how to grow hydroponic blueberries in a wicking bed:
In the video below, this hydroponic grower uses a 5-gallon bucket to grow hydroponic blackberries in his garage:
Once you have your hydroponic set-up ready to go, mix Perlite and Vermiculite and fill the bags/buckets up. Our favorite mixture is about 75% Perlite and 25% Vermiculite for blueberries.
Blueberry seeds have the odds stacked against them when it comes to ease of germination, such as small seed size and specific conditions needed. If you try to start your blueberries from seeds, make sure to buy your seeds from a reputable source to ensure the best return. Blueberry cuttings are typically transplanted since their seeds are slow and finicky germinators. It can take about 1 month for the first seed to germinate, finishing in the next 2-3 months.
If you want to try starting your blueberry plant from seeds, we’ve got you covered on the know-hows!
Just as you would start the seeds for other hydroponic plants, gather your planter box supplies on a flat surface. Then, line the bottom of the planter box with 1 inch of finely ground sphagnum moss. Next, grab your spray bottle and get the moss wet, but not drenched.
Now it is time to sprinkle blueberry seeds on top of the moss, spreading them with your fingers evenly across. Make sure to cover the seeds with a thin layer of moss, leaving some room for light to get through to initiate germination.
Grab your water bottle again and spray the top of the moss until wet. The temperature of the grow room for your hydroponic blueberries seeds should be between 60F-70F, away from direct light, receiving partial sunlight during this process. Keep the blueberry seedling moist at all times, using a spray bottle to create these conditions.
Start giving your seedling a high-intensity light environment when the seeds begin to sprout. This typically happens after one month of germination. Once the blueberry seedling reaches 3 inches it can be transplanted into your hydroponic system.
The Ideal Hydroponic Blueberry Conditions
Hydroponic blueberries have specific growing requirements which differ from their soil-grown counterparts. pH levels for hydroponic blueberries should be acidic, around 4.5-5. Blueberries will absolutely not grow in alkaline conditions. They prefer a temperature between 72°F and 75°F, with 12-16 hours of optimal sunlight. Humidity should be kept at around 70%, except germination when high humidity is needed to spur growth. The ideal PPM is between 1260-1380.
If you’re looking for your own pH tester, check out our post on the best pH meter for hydroponics.
To create the perfect environment for your hydroponic blueberries, consider using a High-Intensity Discharge Lamp (HID), which most closely resembles the sun in intensity. LED lights aren’t as good but are more cost-effective and get the job done. If you plan on using LED grow lights, you can use mylar reflective to generate as much sunlight as possible for your blueberries. For the best fruit quality and sugar levels, long days of sunlight are needed.
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is favored for growing blueberries. Using a water-nutrient solution that constantly flows in a loop from a reservoir through a growing tray, the NFT is a very sustainable way to grow produce. Blueberries love it because while the roots are suspended in the air, they absorb nutrients as the solution passes by.
The constant, continuous flow produced by the NFT never takes breaks, so your blueberries absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible. Adding an aeration bubbler in the reservoir will oxygenate your blueberry’s water and is recommended.
Blueberry plants should always be properly pruned, and ensure proper care to disinfect your pruning tools so as not to infect your plant with any pathogens. Another important step for your blueberry plant to produce fruit is for the plant to undergo a cold season.
This is the dormant phase, which must occur before the blueberry fruit appears and is why you typically won’t get any blueberry fruit on your first growth cycle. Blueberry plants typically need around 500-600 hours below 45°F for their cold season. Some growers will just put them outside if their climate allows, bringing them back into their indoor garden once the time has elapsed.
When it is time to finally bloom, blueberries first appear with bell-shaped flowers, emerging light green, then deepen to reddish pink, and then into their indelible blue color. Ripe blueberries are fragile and full of deep dusty-blue color. The first crop may not all ripen at the same time, and they may not harvest at all until the second bloom, but do not be discouraged because this is how it is with blueberries. They need that extra TLC and then they will be your BFF for life. Did you know once blueberries yield fruit, they can produce for 50 years?
This educational blueberry video will get you excited to start growing your own blueberries!
Can you grow blueberries hydroponically?
Not only can you grow a bountiful crop of blueberries hydroponically, but they can also be grown aeroponically, too! Both lend to greater control over the blueberries’ environment, from the soil pH to the moisture at the root level. With greater control over the variables in the grow room, blueberry plants can produce fruit all year long.
Blueberries grown hydroponically are also protected from pests and birds, giving way to only the highest quality blueberries. As we described above, as long as the right conditions are met, blueberries will grow hydroponically.
How long does it take to grow blueberries hydroponically?
Typically it can take 3-5 years to get an established blueberry plant to yield consistent bountiful crops. With hydroponics, you get a faster return on your investment, typically seeing some fruit by the second growing season. And while blueberries grown in soil typically harvest in the spring, hydroponic blueberries can be grown year-round with staggered crops. It’s all up to mother nature and proper TLC. But, once a blueberry plant produces fruit, it can bear fruit for up to 50 years!
Can you grow blueberries in a 5-gallon bucket?
Absolutely! You can create a hydroponic system for blueberries using a 5-gallon bucket. Plant your blueberry plant in the spring, and consider planting various types of blueberries in separate containers. This may help with cross-pollination and increase berry production. Because of the blueberry’s shallow root system, make sure to water your blueberry plant well regularly to keep your growing medium moist but not waterlogged.
What are some common problems when growing blueberries hydroponically?
The blueberry plant gets low on sulfur easily, which is detrimental to their health and production. One way to add sulfur to your hydroponic blueberry plan is with Sulfer prills. Another is by companion planting garlic, which is high in sulfur and excreted in the solution that could be absorbed by your blueberries.
What are signs of nutrient deficiency in blueberry plants?
Signs of nutrient deficiency include yellowing of the leaves and veins. Another sign is when leaf tips curl downwards and turn yellow, or newer leaves coming in paler than those earlier in the growing process. This is when you need to evaluate pH levels and nutrient levels to ensure things are at an optimum level for your blueberry plant to thrive.