Picking and eating your own homegrown berries, still warm from the sun, is one of the greatest pleasures a gardener can know.
The flavor and quality of blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries grown in your own backyard is unrivaled by anything the finest grocery store or farmers market has to offer. Luckily, growing berries in the Pacific Northwest couldn’t be easier thanks to our ideal climate and easy-to-follow care guide. Our favorite berries are high-yielding, attractive, easy to grow, and above all, delicious.
Blueberries grow on shrubby, thorn-free bushes that range in size from two feet up to eight feet depending on the variety. They are attractive plants with reddish bark and matte green leaves that become red and purple when fall begins.
The fruits are small, easy to harvest, and incredibly versatile. Blueberries produce the highest yields in full sun, but can also be grown in partial shade conditions. Blueberries are long-lived plants that can remain productive for 30–40 years!
Blueberry Varieties & Selection
Pollination: While most blueberries are self-fruitful and will produce fruit if grown individually, all blueberries benefit from having additional varieties grown nearby so they can cross-pollinate with other strains. Cross-pollination ensures that yields will be higher and more robust. By selecting varieties that mature at different times, you can extend your harvest while increasing your crops!
Early-Season Blueberries (Ripen June–July):
- Earliblue – Juicy, sweet berries are aromatic and light-blue; delicious fresh or in baking
- Duke – Mildly sweet, firm berries are medium to large in size; stores well
Mid-Season Blueberries (Ripen July–August):
- Blueray – Abundant production of large, sweet berries; pink blooms in the springtime
- Bluecrop – Consistent yields of high-quality fruits; Berries are delicious when eaten fresh; tolerates hot summers if well-watered
- Berkeley – Firm, uniform berries are large and store well; mild flavor
- Pink Lemonade – Ripe berries are a bright, deep pink; flavor is sweet with a firm texture, ideal for fresh eating
Late-Season Blueberries (Ripen August–September):
- Chandler – Extra large berries are sweet and juicy; delicious eaten fresh
- Legacy – Medium to large berries on a vigorous plant; strong, sweet flavor
- Elliott – High-acid content berries have tart flavor; heavy production over a long harvest window
Evergreen Blueberries: Cultivars like Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue produce smaller amounts of berries over a long harvest window on compact, semi-evergreen plants. Their smaller form makes these varieties ideal for growth in containers, or in the case of Sapphire Cascade or Midnight Cascade, even hanging baskets!
Blueberry Planting Tips
Ideal planting times for blueberries are Fall and early Spring.
In the ground: Blueberries require moist, acidic soil (pH 4.5–5.5) to thrive. Use G&B Acid Planting Mix planting amendment up to 50% in combination with your native soil. If you need to lower soil pH dramatically, use elemental sulfur or cottonseed meal, but verify pH level first with a pH test.
In containers: Select a pot that is larger than the growing pot in which the plant was purchased and repot using G&B Potting Soil. Evergreen varieties are best-suited for container growth.
Plant at least two varieties for best production and cross pollination. When planting in Spring, remove some flower buds at planting time to encourage better root development. Water blueberries well after planting.
Blueberry Care & Maintenance
Mulching: Use G&B Acid Planting Mix around blueberries in Spring to help retain water, protect shallow roots, and improve soil quality. Irrigate plants during dry weather for at least two years after planting—blueberry plants are very vulnerable to drought stress and have shallow, fibrous root systems.
Fertilizing: In April and June, fertilize with G&B Rhododendron, Azalea & Camellia Fertilizer.
Pruning: After year three, prune annually in late winter (February) to keep good production, removing any crossing or damaged branches along with some of the oldest parts of the plant.
Pests & Diseases: Traditional pests are uncommon, but birds will eat ripe blueberries at an astonishing rate. Protect ripening fruit with bird netting or bird scare tape.
Strawberries are low-growing plants that make stringy runners to spread and produce more plants over time. They can be grown in landscape beds, raised beds, or containers, making them a great berry to grow in virtually any garden setting. Strawberries will yield more fruit in full sun, but alpine varieties can be grown in partial shade conditions.
Strawberry Varieties & Selection
Pollination: Strawberries are self-fruitful, but if planted with a second variety, the yields will be higher and the berries will be larger than if a variety is grown individually. Cross-pollination and more pollination from a diversity of pollinators boosts the size of the berry because each fruit is an aggregate of many tiny flowers!
Everbearing Strawberry Varieties: Produce two or three yields of strawberries, one in Spring, and the others later in the growing season
- Tristar – Produces a heavy, very early spring crop of small to medium fruit and a larger crop of longer fruit in the fall; excellent for fresh eating or freezing and good for hanging baskets; blight and disease resistant
- Seascape – Noteworthy for great flavor, high yield, large fruit size, firmness, and attractive appearance; some basic disease and virus resistance
- Aromas – Large, firm berries characterized by exceptional fruit quality and flavor with good red color and a bright sheen; fruit is produced slightly later than other everbearing varieties and production continues into late fall
- Quinault – Large, firm, deep red berry with good flavor; great for fresh eating, desserts, and preserves; not recommended for freezing; high-yielding, vigorous plants produce many runners; susceptible to mildew
June-bearing Strawberry Varieties: Produce a larger crop over a shorter harvest window in June
- Rainier – A very tough, virus-tolerant plant; extremely vigorous grower with large floppy leaves that are ornamentally attractive; the berry is medium to large and excellent for fresh eating as well as processing
- Hood – The preferred variety of chefs and foodies; Hood is delicious for fresh eating or use in preserves and jams; resistant to root rot, mildew, and red stele, but quite susceptible to virus and should not be planted near strawberries known to be infected; not particularly winter hardy
Strawberry Planting Tips
Strawberries require a soil pH of 5.5–6.5, and good drainage is essential! If the soil is heavy and tends to stay wet, plant on raised beds or add organic matter to improve drainage. Plant your strawberries early in the Spring; frost will not hurt the plants.
In the ground: Position the roots so they are straight down into the ground and pack the soil around each plant, taking care to make sure they are at the proper depth. Water in well and continue to irrigate as needed. Strawberries can be planted below edible and ornamental shrubs throughout the landscape, or in dedicated beds.
In containers: Grow in window boxes, deck pots, hanging baskets, or traditional “strawberry pots” with basic potting soil and regular fertilizing for best success. Plants will slowly spread over time and some will trail over the edges of the containers.
Strawberry Care & Maintenance
Fertilizing: Organic fertilizer like G&B Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer is excellent for strawberries. Apply in early Spring when new growth begins as a side dressing around established plantings, and again in early August.
Mulching: In areas with cold winters, mulching is necessary to protect plants. Cover your plants with 3-5 inches of straw or fallen leaves in late Fall. Remove the mulch in early Spring when you notice new growth on the plant. A light layer of mulch between rows and around developing plants can also keep berries from rotting as they ripen—use straw or G&B Soil Building Conditioner.
Pests & Diseases: To avoid fungal diseases and root rot, plant in a well-drained area of the garden or in raised beds or pots. Insect control is necessary, as aphids will damage plants and spread disease. Control aphids with an organic insecticide, by spraying off leaves and fruits with water, or with beneficial insects. Slugs love to hide under the leaves and eat developing fruit, so stay on top of slug control with organic slug baits like Sluggo. Other pests include birds and squirrels.
Raspberries & Cane Berries
Raspberries and relatives like Boysenberry and Marionberry are produced on arching canes. Each season, new canes emerge from the ground and grow up alongside the parent plants.
Though many varieties of Cane Berries have thorns, they are typically easy to navigate, and any nicks are well worth the reward of these mouth-watering berries. Raspberries, Blackberries, Boysenberries, and Marionberries all thrive in full sun conditions—planting in partial shade will reduce yields.
Raspberry Varieties & Selection
Pollination: Cane berries and raspberries are self-fruitful and self-pollinating, but the yields will increase if pollinators such as bees are present. Though the presence of a pollinator is not necessary for fruit development, larger fruits in greater quantities will be produced when bees pollinate the flowers.
One-Crop Raspberry Varieties: Fruit once on two-year-old wood in June or July
- Willamette – Prolific yields of juicy, sweet-tart fruit; eat fresh or use for jams, jellies, and sauces
- Canby – The only thornless red raspberry; large fruit are firm with a good flavor and can be eaten fresh or preserved; very cold-hardy
Two-Crop Raspberry Varieties: Fruit on two-year-old wood in June or July and on one-year-old wood in early Fall
- Fall Gold – Large, golden raspberries have a sweet flavor and soft texture; adaptable to a range of conditions
- Heritage – Mild-flavored berries are deep red and high-quality; stores well
Noteworthy Cane Berries:
- Marionberry – Sweet, bright purple berries are large and firm; delicious eaten fresh or in pies; canes are long and require support; long harvest window beginning in June
- Olallieberry – Blackberry sport with medium berries that are sweet and plant is adaptable to many conditions; begins fruiting in July
- Boysenberry Thornless – Created as a hybrid of many cane berries, these thornless plants produce a long, large berry with a deep maroon color; flavor is complex and tangy-sweet with very few seeds
Raspberry Planting Tips
Plant in Spring in well-draining, slightly acidic soil.
In the ground: To prevent root rot, gypsum lime can be added to the planting bed at a rate of 4.5 ounces per square foot and incorporated into the soil or raised planting mix. The calcium ion in gypsum lime interferes with root rot development, and gypsum lime does not change the pH of the soil.
Cane Berries can be supported with tall stakes, grown against a fence, or ideally supported with a two-wire trellis to hem in the canes on either side. In a two-wire trellis, wires are secured on either side of a stake with the cane berries in the center, beginning about one foot from ground level and running 18 inches apart to about 5 feet in height. Certain varieties may need no support at all!
In containers: Most varieties of Cane Berries are not well-suited to container cultivation, but new, dwarf, ever-bearing introductions like Raspberry Shortcake can be grown in a large pot if kept well-watered.
Raspberry Care & Maintenance
Fertilizing: Raspberries do not require heavy fertilization. G&B Organic All Purpose Fertilizer or G&B Citrus & Fruit Tree Fertilizer should be applied in Spring once growth has begun, and again about 6–8 weeks later. An application of kelp meal in the fall can assist with winter hardiness and disease resistance.
Pruning: Cane berries have a rambling habit and will spread if left unchecked. In most cases, the shoots of suckers that start close to the original plant are allowed to grow, allowing for turnover of older canes to keep production levels high. Unwanted suckers arising too far from the mother plant can be removed as they appear and disposed of or given to friends.
After harvest, the two-year-old fruiting wood begins to die and can be removed. The remaining one-year-old canes for the following Summer’s crop can be cut back to head height or tied up and bent over to form an arch. When Cane Berries are dormant, thin out the weaker or damaged canes, leaving yourself 4–6 strong canes per “plant”.
Pests & Diseases: Traditional pests are uncommon, but birds will eat ripe cane berries. Protect ripening fruit with bird netting or bird scare tape. To prevent root rot, plant or amend with gypsum lime as detailed above.