10 Best Blueberry Companion Plants That Thrive in Your Garden

Imagine plump, juicy blueberries bursting with flavor, thanks not only to your meticulous care but also to the strategic selection of their neighbors in the garden bed. This is the magic of blueberry companion plants, a concept that can elevate your blueberry patch from ordinary to extraordinary.

So, buckle up, gardening enthusiasts, as we delve into the fascinating world of blueberry companion planting. We’ll explore the benefits, delve into specific companion plant options, and uncover some surprising plant partnerships that will have your blueberry bushes singing with delight.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a time-honored gardening practice rooted in the idea that certain plants, when grown in proximity, can benefit each other in various ways. It’s akin to finding a best friend for your garden plants, one that complements and enhances their growth, health, and productivity. 

When it comes to blueberries, companion planting plays a crucial role in cultivating a successful harvest. Blueberries thrive in acidic soil (with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5), and they require specific conditions to produce their delicious fruits. By selecting the right companion plants, gardeners can ensure their blueberry bushes are in an environment that meets their needs, while also repelling pests and diseases that might otherwise harm them.

Benefits of Blueberry Companion Plants

Blueberry companion plants offer a multitude of advantages, fostering a healthy and productive blueberry patch. Let’s explore these benefits in detail:

1. Enhanced Pollination: Blueberries, especially certain varieties, benefit greatly from cross-pollination. Companion plants with vibrant blooms, like foxglove and yarrow, attract a diverse range of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This increased pollinator activity translates to more flowers being pollinated, ultimately leading to higher blueberry yields.

2. Natural Pest Control: Certain companion plants possess qualities that deter or confuse harmful insects. Garlic and chives repel aphids and Japanese beetles with their strong, pungent odor. Marigolds release compounds that disrupt the life cycle of nematodes, microscopic worm-like pests that can damage blueberry roots. By incorporating these natural pest control companions, you can minimize reliance on chemical pesticides, promoting a healthier environment for both your blueberries and the surrounding ecosystem.

3. Improved Soil Health: Nitrogen-fixing plants like lupines and clover enrich the soil with nitrogen, a vital nutrient for healthy blueberry growth. These plants have the ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by blueberries, promoting stronger vegetative growth and potentially increasing berry size and quality. Additionally, low-growing companion plants like creeping thyme act as living mulch, suppressing weeds and helping retain moisture in the soil. This improves soil health by creating a more stable and balanced environment for blueberries to thrive.

4. Increased Biodiversity: Integrating blueberry companion plants encourages a wider variety of beneficial insects and organisms into your garden. This biodiversity creates a more resilient ecosystem, promoting natural pest control and reducing the risk of disease outbreaks. Additionally, attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings can help control populations of harmful insects, further safeguarding your blueberry plants.

By strategically incorporating these diverse companion plants, you can create a flourishing and self-sustaining ecosystem that optimizes the health and productivity of your blueberry patch.

10 Companion Plants for Blueberry 

Companion planting with blueberries can significantly enhance your garden’s health, biodiversity, and productivity. Let’s delve into some of the best companions for your blueberry bushes and understand how each contributes to a thriving garden.

  • Strawberries
  • Azaleas 
  • Alliums
  • Native Wildflowers
  • Conifers
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Cranberries

1. Strawberries

Strawberries and blueberries make excellent garden companions, sharing similar cultural requirements, such as acidic soil and full sun exposure.

Strawberries plant
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Strawberries act as a living mulch, spreading across the garden bed to suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, and keep the soil cool. This ground cover is beneficial during hot summers, protecting the soil and roots of blueberry bushes. 

Additionally, strawberries can help optimize space in your garden, allowing you to grow more within the same plot. Their flowering periods also attract pollinators, which benefits the blueberries.

2. Azaleas

Azaleas are not only visually appealing but also thrive in acidic soil conditions similar to those preferred by blueberries. Planting azaleas nearby can help indicate and maintain the acidic pH levels required for blueberries to absorb nutrients effectively.

Azaleas Plant
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Moreover, azaleas attract beneficial insects and provide a beautiful backdrop for your edible garden, enhancing the visual appeal of your space.

3. Alliums

Alliums, including garlic, onions, and chives, are known for their strong scents, which can deter many pests that threaten blueberries. 

Onions Pant
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These aromatic plants can protect blueberries from various insects and even some larger pests like deer and rabbits. Additionally, alliums have deep roots that can help break up compact soil, improving aeration and drainage for the benefit of nearby blueberry roots.

4. Native Wildflowers

Incorporating native wildflowers into your blueberry garden supports local biodiversity and attracts a plethora of pollinators. 

Native Wildflowers
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Wildflowers can offer a continuous bloom throughout the growing season, ensuring that beneficial insects remain in your garden to pollinate your blueberries. This not only enhances fruit set and yield but also contributes to the ecological health of your garden by supporting native bee populations.

5. Conifers

Conifers, such as pine trees, can be beneficial companions for blueberries in several ways. The needles from conifers can help acidify the soil as they decompose, maintaining the low pH levels blueberries love. 

Conifers Plant
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Additionally, the mulch provided by fallen pine needles conserves moisture, suppresses weeds, and adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. Conifers can also offer wind protection and moderate the microclimate for blueberries, shielding them from harsh conditions.

6. Thyme

Thyme is a wonderful companion for blueberries for several reasons. As a low-growing herb, it serves as an effective ground cover that suppresses weeds, conserves soil moisture, and provides habitat for beneficial insects.

Thyme Plant
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Thyme’s aromatic properties can also deter certain pests, offering natural protection for blueberries. Furthermore, its drought-resistant nature means it won’t compete heavily with blueberries for water, making it an ideal partner in the garden.

7. Basil

Basil and blueberries are complementary companions, primarily because basil acts as a natural pest repellent. Its strong scent can deter many insects and even some small animals that might otherwise be tempted by your blueberries.

Basil Plant
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Planting basil alongside blueberries can enhance the overall health of your garden by reducing the need for chemical pest controls. Additionally, basil attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies when it blooms, which can help increase blueberry yields.

8. Borage

Borage is a powerhouse when it comes to companion planting with blueberries. It attracts bees and other pollinators, essential for the pollination of blueberry flowers.

Borage Plant
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Moreover, borage is known for its ability to repel unwanted garden pests, such as tomato hornworms, which can occasionally pose a threat to nearby plants. The plant also adds trace minerals to the soil as it decomposes, enriching the soil for blueberries and improving their overall growth and fruit production.

9. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, with its citrus-scented leaves, is another excellent companion for blueberries. It attracts pollinators while deterring certain pests with its strong fragrance.

Lemon Balm Plant
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Lemon balm can help create a more inviting environment for bees, ensuring your blueberry bushes are well-pollinated. Additionally, as a member of the mint family, lemon balm can become quite vigorous, so consider planting it in containers to prevent it from overtaking your blueberries.

10. Cranberries

Cranberries can be an intriguing companion for blueberries, as they share similar cultural requirements. Both thrive in acidic soil conditions and can benefit from the same soil amendments.

Cranberries Plant
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Planting cranberries as a ground cover around blueberries can maximize the use of garden space, providing two crops from a similar growing environment. Additionally, the dense mat of cranberry vines can help suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture, benefiting the blueberry bushes overhead.

Bad Companion Plants for Blueberries

While many plants can live in harmony with blueberries, enhancing their growth and fruit production, there are certain plants that should be kept at a distance. These so-called “bad companions” can negatively impact blueberries due to their contrasting soil needs, competition for resources, or potential for disease and pest infestation. 

Let’s explore why nightshades, walnut trees, grass, and tomatoes are considered incompatible companions for blueberry bushes.

Nightshades 

Nightshade plants, such as potatoes, peppers, and eggplants, are not ideal companions for blueberries for several reasons. First, they have different soil pH requirements. While blueberries thrive in acidic soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5), nightshades prefer a more neutral pH. 

This difference can make it challenging to manage soil conditions effectively for both types of plants. Additionally, nightshades are susceptible to certain pests and diseases, like blight and root rot, which can also affect blueberries if grown too close together.

Walnut Trees

Walnut trees, including black walnuts, secrete a chemical called juglone from their roots, leaves, and nuts. Juglone is toxic to many plant species, including blueberries, inhibiting their growth and potentially leading to their demise. 

The toxic radius can extend far beyond the drip line of the walnut tree, making it crucial to plant blueberries well away from these trees to avoid juglone toxicity.

Grass

Grass might seem like an innocuous companion, but it can be quite detrimental to blueberries. Grass roots compete aggressively with blueberry roots for water and nutrients, often outcompeting the shallower root system of blueberries. 

Additionally, grass can harbor pests and diseases that may spread to blueberry plants. It’s better to maintain a mulched or bare soil area around blueberries to reduce competition and promote healthy growth.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes share some of the same pests and diseases as blueberries, such as the tomato ringworm, which can also affect blueberries. Planting tomatoes near blueberries can increase the risk of these issues spreading between the plants. 

Moreover, tomatoes have different water and fertilizer requirements, which can complicate garden management and inadvertently affect the delicate balance blueberries need to thrive.

In summary, when planning your blueberry garden, it’s important to consider not only the beneficial companions but also those plants that could pose a risk to their health and productivity. 

FAQs

1. What do you put around blueberry bushes?

You can surround your blueberry bushes with various companion plants depending on the desired benefit. Here are some popular choices:

For pollination: Foxglove, yarrow, borage

For pest control: Garlic, chives, marigolds, mint

For soil enrichment: Lupines, clover, beans, peas

For living mulch and biodiversity: Creeping thyme, strawberries, native wildflowers

2. What is the best pollinator for blueberries?

There isn’t a single “best” pollinator, as blueberries benefit from a diverse range of pollinators. However, some effective options include:

Bumblebees: Efficient pollinators that can handle heavy pollen loads.

Honey Bees: Abundant and effective pollinators, especially in areas with established hives.

Hummingbirds: Attracted to brightly colored flowers and play a role in blueberry pollination.

3. Can you grow garlic next to blueberries?

Yes, garlic is an excellent companion plant for blueberries. Its strong scent repels harmful insects like aphids and Japanese beetles, offering natural pest control. Just ensure you plant the garlic at an appropriate distance from the blueberry bushes to avoid competition for resources.

4. How do you make soil acidic for blueberries?

Blueberries thrive in acidic soil with a pH between 4.8 and 5.5. To increase soil acidity, you can:

Add organic matter: Amend the soil with peat moss, composted wood chips, or pine needles.

Use sulfur products: Apply elemental sulfur or agricultural sulfur according to package instructions and soil testing results.

Choose acid-loving companion plants: Acid loving companion plants like azaleas and rhododendrons prefer acidic soil and can help maintain lower pH levels over time.

Conclusion

By incorporating blueberry companion plants, you can create a harmonious and productive garden ecosystem. These plants offer numerous benefits, from attracting pollinators and deterring pests to enriching the soil and fostering biodiversity. 

By carefully selecting appropriate companions and following best practices, you can witness your blueberry patch flourish and reward you with an abundance of delicious, juicy berries.

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