Bad Companion Plants for Blueberries: The Ultimate List!

Discover the ultimate list of bad companion plants for blueberries, including veggies, herbs, flowers, and more! Plus, get tips on soil care, watering, and pruning for the healthiest and most productive blueberry bushes.

bad companion plants for blueberries

Are you dreaming of a garden bursting with juicy blueberries? The key might not just lie in how you care for them but also in who their neighbors are. In this guide, you’ll discover why steering clear of certain bad companion plants for blueberries is crucial for your bushes to thrive. Blueberries have precise requirements: they flourish in acidic soil with a pH range of 4.0 to 5.0, need well-drained soil to avoid root rot, and require abundant sunlight to yield plenty of fruit. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which plants could hinder your blueberry plants’ growth and how to create the perfect conditions for a bountiful blueberry patch.

Understanding Companion Planting

Companion planting is an age-old gardening practice that involves placing different plants close together for the mutual benefit of each other. This method can significantly boost your garden’s productivity by enhancing pest control and pollination and optimizing garden space utilization. When applied thoughtfully, companion planting can lead to healthier plants and more robust yields.

However, companion planting can positively and negatively affect blueberry plants. On the one hand, the right companion plants can help maintain the acidic soil conditions blueberries love, attract beneficial insects that ward off pests, and help retain soil moisture without competing for resources. On the other hand, choosing the wrong plant neighbors can lead to nutrient competition, soil pH alterations, and excessive shading, all of which can negatively impact the health and productivity of blueberry plants.

The Importance of Soil pH for Blueberries

Soil pH plays a crucial role in the successful cultivation of blueberry plants. Blueberries require acidic soil to absorb essential nutrients effectively. They can suffer from nutrient deficiencies in conditions with higher soil pH (neutral to alkaline), leading to poor growth and reduced fruiting.

Incompatible companion plants can significantly alter the pH levels of the soil. For instance, plants that prefer neutral to alkaline soil conditions may encourage practices or soil amendments that raise the pH, making the soil environment unsuitable for blueberries. Conversely, certain amendments used to lower the soil pH for blueberries might negatively affect plants that prefer more alkaline conditions. Understanding the soil requirements of all your garden plants is crucial to maintaining the delicate balance needed for your blueberries to flourish.

Growing and Caring for Blueberries

blueberry plant in yard

Soil Preparation for Blueberries

Achieving the correct pH levels for your soil is crucial for the health of your blueberry plants. Blueberries demand acidic soil conditions, typically with a pH of the soil ranging from 4.0 to 5.5. This slightly acidic soil is critical to unlocking essential nutrients for the plants. If your garden does not naturally meet this criterion, amending it by incorporating granulated sulfur a few months before planting is a great way to adjust the pH. Additionally, adding organic matter such as peat moss, pine needles, or bark further acidifies the soil and improves its structure, creating ideal conditions for blueberry plants.

To find your plant hardiness zone, which can guide you in selecting the blueberry varieties best suited to your climate, you can visit resources like the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This step is crucial for ensuring your blueberry varieties, such as highbush, lowbush, or rabbiteye blueberries, match your growing conditions for higher yields and better growth.

Water and Sunlight Requirements

Blueberry bushes thrive in locations with full sun exposure and well-drained, moist soil. Their shallow root systems make them susceptible to drought stress. Thus, regular watering during dry periods is essential to maintaining consistent soil moisture. However, it’s necessary to ensure the soil is well-drained to prevent waterlogging, which can harm the plants.

Pruning and Maintenance

Pruning is key for maintaining healthy blueberry bushes. Early spring is the ideal time to prune. Removing older branches each year encourages the growth of new shoots, which are typically more vigorous and productive. This practice promotes a higher yield and helps manage the shape and size of the plants.

Mulching serves multiple purposes; it helps retain soil moisture, provides excellent weed control, and can gradually contribute to the quality, benefiting acid-loving plants like blueberries. Organic materials such as pine bark or shredded leaves as mulch can enhance the garden’s health and productivity.

Categories of Bad Companion Plants for Blueberries

When planning your blueberry garden, you must be mindful of which plants you place nearby. Certain plants can harm your blueberries due to their soil pH preferences, growth habits, or nutrient needs. Here is a breakdown of categories and specific examples of plants to avoid as companions for your blueberry bushes.

Trees and Shrubs

trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs that thrive in neutral to alkaline soil conditions can inadvertently affect the acidic environment blueberries need. Moreover, their large size may cast too much shade, depriving blueberries of the sunlight they require for optimal growth and fruit production. Examples of such trees and shrubs include:

  • Ash
  • Basswood
  • Beauty bush
  • Birch
  • Blackberry
  • Boxwood
  • Cherry, Sour
  • Crab Apple
  • Elder, Box
  • Fir, Douglas
  • Hydrangea, Pink-Flowered
  • Lemon
  • Lilac
  • Maple, Sugar
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pecan
  • Plum
  • Walnut, Black
  • Willow


raised bed vegetable garden

Vegetables that prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH can compete with blueberries for nutrients and may not thrive in the highly acidic conditions blueberries enjoy. Such vegetables include:

  • Asparagus
  • Bean, Pole
  • Beet
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprout
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chive
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Pea, Sweet
  • Pepper, Sweet
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Squash, Crookneck
  • Squash, Hubbard
  • Tomato


square foot herb garden bed

Many popular culinary herbs flourish in neutral to slightly alkaline conditions, which does not align with the acidic soil preference of blueberries. Planting these herbs near blueberries could lead to soil pH conflicts. These herbs include:

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Chives
  • Cilantro/Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme


flower garden

Certain flowers prefer a different pH range or have growth characteristics that could negatively affect blueberries by competing for nutrients or altering soil conditions. Examples of such flowers are:

  • Alyssum
  • Aster, New England
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Bachelor’s Button
  • Bee Balm
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Canna
  • Carnation
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coleus
  • Crocus
  • Dahlia
  • Daisy, Shasta
  • Daylily
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove
  • Geranium
  • Hibiscus
  • Hollyhock
  • Hyacinth
  • Morning Glory
  • Pansy
  • Peony
  • Petunia
  • Phlox, Summer
  • Poppy, Oriental
  • Rose, Rugosa
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Tulip
  • Zinnia

How Bad Companions Can Affect Blueberries

Introducing incompatible companion plants into your blueberry garden can lead to several adverse effects, potentially compromising the productivity and health of your bushes. Understanding these impacts is crucial for safeguarding your blueberry patch.

  • Nutrient Competition: Blueberry plants have specific nutrient needs, and introducing heavy feeders into the same area can lead to competition for these vital resources. Blueberries might receive fewer nutrients, affecting their growth and berry production.
  • pH Level Alteration: The success of blueberry cultivation largely hinges on maintaining acidic soil conditions (pH 4.0 to 5.0). Bad companion plants, particularly those preferring neutral to alkaline soil, can necessitate soil amendments that inadvertently raise the pH levels, making the environment less hospitable for blueberries.
  • Shading Issues: Blueberries require full sun to flourish and produce fruit. Tall plants or those that spread widely can cast excessive shade over blueberry bushes, reducing the sunlight they receive. This lack of sufficient light can lead to poor fruit development and decreased yield.

Tips for Maintaining Optimal Conditions for Blueberries

blueberry plants

Creating and maintaining the perfect growing conditions for your blueberries will ensure they remain healthy and productive. Here are some strategies to help you achieve and sustain these ideal conditions, even when faced with bad companion plants.

Maintaining Acidic Soil Conditions

Regular Soil Testing

The first step in maintaining the right conditions is to test your soil’s pH regularly. Simple pH testing kits are available at garden centers, allowing you to monitor the humidity levels and adjust as needed.

Amendments to Lower pH

You can lower the soil pH for blueberries by applying elemental sulfur or organic amendments like peat moss, pine needles, or sulfur-coated urea. 

Preventing Adverse Effects of Bad Companion Planting

close up of blueberries on blueberry plant

Strategic Plant Placement

When planning your garden layout, prioritize placing blueberries away from known bad companions. Instead, consider integrating good companion plants for blueberries, such as marigolds, which can deter pests, and garlic or chives, known to repel insect invaders. Using raised beds or containers can effectively separate your blueberries from incompatible plants, safeguarding against potential adverse interactions.

Utilizing Buffer Zones

Creating buffer zones around your blueberry bushes can significantly reduce the risk of nutrient competition and prevent pH levels from shifting away from the acidic conditions blueberries favor. Mulching with pine needles or applying a thick layer of burlap around the plants can act as a physical barrier while also contributing to soil acidity—a benefit that blueberries will love.

Shade Management

Ensuring your blueberry bushes are planted where they’ll receive ample sunlight is crucial. Avoid planting them near taller plants that could cast shade and limit their sun exposure. Instead, surround blueberries with low-growing plants like thyme or oregano, which thrive in similar acidic conditions and provide ground cover without competing for light. Regular pruning of neighboring plants and trees can also help manage light levels, ensuring your blueberries get the sunlight they require for optimal fruit production.


By steering clear of bad companion plants for blueberries, you’re on your way to a lush blueberry patch. Ensuring acidic soil, full sun, and good drainage avoids common pitfalls. We hope this guide helps you cultivate a thriving garden and abundant blueberry yields!

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  1. Hello,
    I have a question about our blueberries. We planted 3 each in two 4′ feed troughs. I checked our Ph last summer. It still needs work. They are getting plenty of light but they are just so small. Should we add more natural ingredients to cause the soil to be well drained? It will be 2 years old this summer. Should I be pruning even if it seems it’s not really growing much?

    1. Hi Kimberlee!

      If your blueberries are struggling, it might be due to the soil’s pH not being acidic enough. I’d get a test kit and adjust accordingly. Here’s a guide on testing and adjusting soil pH for blueberries: Cornell University – Soil pH for Blueberries.

      Improving drainage is also key. So, yes, adding organic matter like peat moss could help both with drainage and in acidifying the soil.

      Regarding pruning, a light trim in Feb/March to remove dead or weak branches should help encourage growth. Since pruning needs can vary by variety, here’s a guide to help you out: How to Prune Blueberries.

      Hope this helps!