Don't be surprised if you've never heard of the bilberry – most people haven't and that's because it's a very, very close cousin to the blueberry and also goes by the name of European blueberry. But what makes bilberries different from blueberries? They're simply a different species and in this article we'll show you how to grow bilberries and what the actual difference between the two is!
What is a Bilberry?
Unlike North American blueberries that are actually hybrid cultivars, bilberries are the original, wild berries that grow on twigs rather than in clusters. If you're intereted in learning how to grow bilberries, please keep in mind that they will do best in USDA zones 3 through 8. Bilberries prefer a cooler climate and, if grown in hotter climates, should be kept as cool as possible either with a ground cover or irrigation.
How to Grow Bilberries in Your Garden
- Purchase container-raised bilberries instead of bare-root stock since they don't like to have their roots disturbed.
- Be sure to get at least two bushes for cross-pollination.
- Keep these containers in a cool and moist area until they're ready to be transplanted in the spring once the ground is workable.
- If you live a cooler zone, choose a planting area with full sun.
- If you live in a warmer zone, choose a planting area with more shade.
- Soil must be well draining and acidic for these berries to thrive in.
- Work the soil to a depth of 8 inches and make a hole as big as the bilberry container and twice as wide.
- Remove the bilberry gently from its container and place the root ball into the newly-dug hole.
- Cover up the bulb with soil and add a 2 inch layer of mulch around the plant.
- Water deeply.
- Bilberries require very little care, even less so than blueberries.
- No fertilization is required.
- Water only once the soil is dry.
- Allow to ripen on the shrub and harvest in autumn for sweet tasting bilberries.
So now that you know how to grow bilberries it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!
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