How to plant and care for blueberry bushes

March 15, 2013 12:00 am

Choosing a site:

Blueberries require a sunny location for best results. Avoid planting around trees. Trees will provide too much shade as well as take away the water and nutrients needed for blueberry success. Blueberry bushes have very specific soil requirements. Soil needs to be well drained and high in organic matter with a pH range between 4.5 and 5.5.

 

Planting:

Spread roots as wide and shallow as the root ball will allow, being very careful to set the crown of the plant (where the main stem joins the roots) level with the ground. Acid compost or peat moss may be mixed with your soil and firmed around the roots when they are set, but avoid firming heavy clay soils over the roots or around the plant. A mulch of aged sawdust (not cedar) or an acid planting mix, up to 6” in depth, over the entire planting will prove beneficial in discouraging weeds while keeping the plant evenly moist. Do not fertilize during the initial planting. Apply a well balanced slow release acidic loving fertilizer after four weeks of growth.

 

After Planting Care:

Remove all the blossoms the first year after planting. This will allow your plant’s roots to become more established. Add an additional couple inches of aged sawdust or acid planting mix as mulch each year. Acidic fertilizer should be applied each February and again in the late spring each year.

 

Pruning:

By the third year remove weak twiggy growth. If shoots appear too crowded remove some older shoots entirely. Blueberries can be thinned out to increase fruit size and quality. Otherwise, pruning is not necessary. All pruning should be done in the winter and early spring when the plant is dormant.

 

Harvest:

Berries will ripen over a 2-5 week period depending on weather and variety. Berries occur in clusters of 5-10. Don’t be too excited to pick the berries when they first turn blue. They will develop better flavor if you leave them for a few days.

 


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