Can we grow blueberries in Central Texas?
Blueberries are one of the most difficult crops to grow with our soil and water here.
Most species of blueberries were evolved in the Southeastern United States or in other parts of North America where soils are quite acid. Blueberries like a soil pH between a 4.5 and 5 and that’s simply not what we have here (typically 7.5 to 8.5).
And the reason why that is important is because blueberries are one of the few plants that have no root hairs. They’re entirely dependent on a mycorrhizal affiliation with a fungus that infects the plant that actually benefits both organisms. The blueberry plant feeds the fungus, and the fungus acts as the root hairs and helps in the absorption of water and nutrients.
So when you plant blueberries in our soil and use our water, the mycorrhizal fungi simply die and the blueberry plant will show you every single nutrition deficiency known to plant-kind. Again, blueberries like high organic matter, they like acid soils, they cannot tolerate water that has calcium or sodium in it.
So if you really want to grow blueberries there are ways to get around this by planting in a container. The ideal medium for blueberries is half sand and half peat moss. The pH of peat is between 5 and 5.5, and the high organic matter is perfect for the growth of these mycorrhizal fungi. You don’t really need to worry about inoculating these plants. They come inoculated from the nursery; you simply want to create an environment where they will survive.
The other thing that’s going to be a necessity is the collection and use of solely rain water. Using city water that is high in calcium will simply kill the mycorrhizal fungi and the blueberry plant won’t survive.