Plants & Gardens Blog

Making Brooklyn Blue

What’s blue, sweet, healthy, and native to Brooklyn? Highbush blueberries! Vaccinium corymbosum is beautiful and bears delicious fruit bursting with nutrients. This deciduous shrub provides multiseasonal interest with dainty, bell-shaped white or pink flowers in spring, berries in summer, and stunning scarlet leaves in fall. Blueberries flourish alongside other native fruits in BBG’s Native Flora Garden. At the Community Garden Alliance plant giveaway last spring, blueberry plants went home with community gardeners from Brownsville to Bay Ridge. How about planting some in your garden?

Blueberries thrive in compost-rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil (a pH of 4.5 or 5 is ideal). A mulch of pine needles will suppress weeds and acidify the soil. Give the plants ample water and space since they can grow to be six feet tall. Sources say blueberries benefit from cross-pollination, so for best yield, interplant at least two different cultivars.

Toss a handful of blueberries into salad for a luscious boost of antioxidants; freeze them by spreading in a single layer on a cookie sheet before bagging; or just feast on them while gardening! Please share your favorite blueberry recipe with us at [email protected].

For more information and sources for blueberries, see BBG’s gardening article “A Shrub for All Seasons.”

Maureen O’Brien is the community field manager at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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Image, top of page: Joanne D’Auria