Growing plants that benefit blueberry bushes (aka companion planting) is a fantastic way to maximize your berry yield through pollinators, add visual appeal to your garden or deck, and get the most out of your available space. But… which species play nice with blueberry bushes, and which don’t? Let’s find out all about blueberry companion planting!
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion Plants for Potted Blueberries
Companion Plants for Garden Blueberries
Which plants NOT to plant near blueberries
This post may contain affiliate links, and you can read our disclosure information here–
Why You Will Love These Muffins
Benefits of Companion Planting with Blueberries
There’s strength in numbers! Many common garden plants benefit from companion planting, which refers to combining one plant species with other plant species that have similar requirements and can offer certain benefits.
3 Key Benefits of Companion Planting
Increasing the Fruit Yield:
First and most importantly, some plants are great at attracting pollinators like bees, which will happily take a detour to visit your blueberry bushes as well. That means more pollinated flowers, a higher yield, and bigger berries.
Many plant nurseries will tell you that some blueberry varieties are self-pollinating and you only need one variety to get berries. While that is true, diversifying the blueberry plant varieties and planting them near each other will increase the yield of each plant if there are bees or pollinators around.
Visual Appeal with Companion Plants
Secondly, although a blueberry bush is quite decorative by itself, you can complement its good looks by combining it with different plants, whether in the garden or in containers.
We’ll also discuss some nice ground cover options that can grow alongside blueberries, to prevent encroaching grass and weeds. Grass is particularly troublesome as a ground cover around blueberry plants, as it takes up the soil nutrients and is difficult to weed.
Companion Planting in Small Spaces
Last but certainly not least, I for one am a fan of maximizing the use I get out of every square foot of land I have at my disposition. I’m sure my city-dwelling readers especially will agree!
Combining blueberry bushes with other berries or herbs in containers or small spaces is a fantastic way to make the most of your area. You can even choose plants that will complement blueberries in the kitchen: I’ll share my idea for a mini blueberry cocktail garden below, for example.
Tip: Remember that if you plant different species together, they should have similar preferences in terms of light, soil and moisture levels. With blueberries, look out for plants that also like acidic soil in particular.
Best Companion Plants in Containers
Blueberry Companions for Pollinating & Visual Appeal
On a balcony or deck, especially in an urban environment, it can sometimes be difficult to attract enough pollinators. Your potted blueberry bush needs visits from bees and other bugs while it blooms, or the flowers will not develop into berries, so it’s important to create a welcoming environment for them.
This is where companion plants come in. Combine potted blueberry bushes with small species that bloom at the same time and are known to attract pollinators for a bigger harvest.
As an added bonus, you get to choose plants with pretty blooms, such as:
- Fuchsia: amazing flowers, suitable for containers and likes acidic soil. It’s a winner!
- Impatiens (touch-me-not): gorgeous blooms, and pollinators love ’em.
- Calluna (heather): one of my favorite options. Choose different colors for an amazing display.
- Erica: similar to heather, this low-growing shrub plays nice with blueberries and will attract an abundance of bees.
- Herbs: there are loads of suitable options that pollinators love, including thyme, mint, lavender, parsley, lemon balm, sage, trailing rosemary, dill, chives and more. Get an herb variety pack and bees will flock to your garden!
Blueberry Companions for the Kitchen
We’ve already touched upon a few edible companion plants for blueberries above, like various herbs. But it doesn’t stop there!
There are many other herbs and tasty plants that combine well with blueberry shrubs, like:
- Trailing nasturtiums: lovely flowers that are edible too. Use them in salads as a pretty garnish and for a kick of peppery flavor.
- Trailing alpine strawberries: great for pots, as they stay smaller than normal strawberry plants. Lush, wild strawberry flavor.
- Lavender: gorgeous to look at, pollinators love it, and it can be used in all sorts of recipes. Many other herbs are also suitable.
- Other berries: lingonberries, cranberries and alpine currants appreciate the same conditions as blueberries and can be grown in containers.
- Salad greens: if you’ve got ground space available in your blueberry planters, why not? Get a lettuce variety pack to fill up the pot and enjoy in salads.
Bonus: Growing A Blueberry Cocktail Garden
If you’re looking for blueberry companion plants that aren’t just pretty but also useful, one of my favorite ideas is to grow a potted blueberry cocktail garden. I love a good blueberry mojito, for example, and it just so happens to be that blueberries and mint can absolutely be grown in a single container!
Other herbs that work well in blueberry cocktails and can grow alongside blueberry shrubs include:
- Lemon verbena to add to a spiked blueberry lemonade.
- Lemon balm works well too.
- (Alpine) strawberries for a berry medley mojito.
- Basil, including fancy varieties like lemon basil, for a blueberry-basil vodka tonic.
- Lavender for a simple blueberry lavender vodka soda.
- (Pineapple) sage may not be the first thing you think of for a cocktail, but don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!
- Tarragon’s anise flavor combines very well with tangy-and-sweet blueberries in a refreshing spritzer.
Best Companion Plants in the Garden
Growing your blueberry shrubs in the garden rather than a pot on the deck or balcony? That’s good news, as it greatly increases your options when it comes to companion planting.
Without the size constraints and with the improved drainage in full soil, you’ll really only have to focus on finding species that have similar soil and light requirements. Let’s have a look at some of our favorites here at Heathglen Farm!
Obviously, all of the pollinator favorites we discussed in the section on potted plants above still apply. Other great options that grow a bit too big for most pots include:
- Yarrow: combine differently colored cultivars for a cheerful display that will be buzzing with bees, butterflies, wasps, hoverflies and a variety of beetles.
- Non-trailing rosemary: these shrubs can grow to up to 5ft tall. Bees love them, and so do most humans, so it’s a win-win.
- Borage: this edible flower is nice to look at and very attractive to pollinators. Another absolute winner for blueberry companion planting in my book.
- Bee balm: I think the name says it all! If you live in an area where they are native, you may even attract hummingbirds with this plant.
- Anise hyssop: another bee magnet, and those purple bottlebrush flowers just look lovely. It’s edible, too!
For Visual Appeal
Now that we’ve dropped the size constraints, we can go a little crazy here. There are so many beautiful blueberry companion plants to consider! Many of them are appreciated for their flowers, which means they can also double as pollinator magnets, although not all of them bloom at the same time as blueberries.
Here are a few of our personal favorites:
- Rhododendron: available in different flower colors, this abundant bloomer likes similar conditions to blueberries.
- Azalea: similar in looks, this one’s a good choice if a Rhododendron bush seems like it would grow a bit too large for your garden.
- Camellia: yes, that includes the tea plant, Camellia sinensis! I love their gorgeous, rose-like flowers.
- Holly: this classic Christmas plant does well in well-draining, rich but acidic soil, just like blueberries.
- Mountain laurel: another highly decorative, shrubby plant that’s similar to Rhododendrons and Azaleas, you’re sure to love mountain laurel’s delicate flowers.
- Japanese Andromeda: this is a real eye-catcher, with elongated bunches of tiny bell-shaped blooms.
- Sweet pepperbush: a little smaller than the aforementioned plants, the sweet pepperbush nonetheless steals the show with its bottlebrush flowers.
Tip: Blueberry bushes grow to be about 3-feed wide. Be sure to leave some space between larger plants and your blueberry bushes. This helps prevent them from outcompeting the berries for water and light.
For Ground Cover
Leave no space unplanted! Adding ground cover around your blueberries helps prevent weeds and grass from being able to take hold, assists in retaining soil moisture and allows you to make use of all the space you’ve got to work with.
A few low, spreading plants that can grow alongside blueberries include:
- Strawberries: normal, alpine, heirloom, wild… whichever you prefer.
- Red clover: a lovely, low-growing option that blooms wonderfully.
- Marjoram: another multifunctional champion that works well as ground cover, attracts bees, and happens to be a fantastic choice to season meat dishes as well.
- Creeping thyme: stays lower than regular thyme, but still smells and tastes great.
- Periwinkle: this creeper doesn’t mind being shaded by taller plants, and it produces lovely flowers. It can be a bit invasive, though.
- Wintergreen: I love its pretty red berries!
Bad Blueberry Companion Plants
As you’ve hopefully concluded by now, there are loads of great blueberry companion plants out there. But what about the opposite? Are there any species you should keep away from your blueberry shrubs?
Although there aren’t exactly plants that will outright kill your blueberries with their mere presence, there are some that you may want to plant elsewhere:
- Nightshades like tomatoes and peppers have such drastically different (soil) requirements that if you plant them next to blueberries, one of them is bound to suffer.
- Walnut trees emit a chemical called juglone, which is toxic to blueberry bushes.
- Grass can be problematic as a groundcover, as it tends to spread and take over blueberry plants, depleting the soil nutrients that they need.
Generally speaking, you should keep any plants that require higher soil pH (above 5) or that use up a lot of soil nutrients away from your blueberries for the best results. This includes things like Brassicas, melons, beans, and more.
FAQs About Blueberry Companion Plants
Yes, these two work very well together. Strawberries make for great edible ground cover under your blueberry bushes.
No, these two are not ideal together. Asparagus need more alkaline soil and use up a lot of nutrients.
No, raspberries like more alkaline soil. Try going for cranberries instead!
It’s not the first combination I’d think of, but they should be alright. Just be sure to keep the blackberries under control.