Planting your blueberry bushes!

source: Farmer's Almanac

Quick facts about growing blueberries

  • Blueberries need full sun.

  • Blueberries require acidic soil.

  • Plant two or more varieties for successful pollination.

  • Plants won't have much fruit the first 2 to 3 years.

  • Harvest is bigger after 5 years.

  • Blueberry plants grow slowly and reach full size in 8 to 10 years.

  • Each winter, prune out old, weak and dead wood.

CHOOSING AND PREPARING A PLANTING SITE

  • Select a sunny, sheltered spot. While blueberries are tolerant of shade, better crops are obtained in the sun. At the same time, they should not be exposed to harsh, drying winds.

  • Don’t plant blueberries too close to trees, as the trees will not only block out sunlight, but will also suck up any moisture in the soil.

  • If planting multiple bushes, it’s best to plant them in a patch, rather than scattered throughout your garden. This will bolster berry production and quality.

  • The blueberry is a shallow-rooted plant. Therefore, it requires a soil that holds moisture, but also drains well and doesn’t stay wet. Don’t plant blueberries in sites that have heavy, clayey soils that stay wet.

  • Blueberries thrive in soil that is acidic. The soil pH should ideally be between 4.0 and 5.0; soil that isn’t acidic enough will stunt growth. Peat moss, as well as pine bark or needles, are also good additions that will help acidify your soil.

  • Mix organic matter into the soil before you set your blueberry bushes.

HOW TO PLANT BLUEBERRY BUSHES

  • Tip: Be careful not to plant them too deeply. The rootball should be just below the surface (one-quarter to one-half inch).

  • Dig holes about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide (or about twice as wide and twice as deep as the roots of the plant).

  • Space bushes 4–5 feet apart in a row, with at least 8 feet between rows.

  • Set the bush in the hole with the rootball just below the surface and its roots spread out. Pack the hole tightly with soil.

  • Apply fertilizer one month after planting, not at the time of planting.

HOW TO PRUNE BLUEBERRY BUSHES

  • For the first 4 years or so after planting, there is no need to prune blueberry bushes. From then on, pruning is needed to stimulate growth of the new shoots that will bear fruit the following season.

  • Prune plants in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

  • Cut out dead, broken, short, weak, and spindly shoots.

  • On highbush varieties, begin with large cuts, removing wood that is more than 6 years old, drooping to the ground, or crowding the center of the bush. Also remove low-growing branches whose fruit will touch the ground, as well as spindly twigs.

  • Prune lowbush blueberries by cutting all stems to ground level. Pruned plants will not bear the season following pruning, so prune a different half of a blueberry patch every two years (or a different third of a patch every three years).

HOW TO HARVEST BLUEBERRIES

  • Blueberries are typically ready for picking between June and August.

  • Don’t rush to pick the berries as soon as they turn blue. Wait a couple days. When they are ready, they should fall off right into your hand.

  • If you plant 2-year-old blueberry bushes, they should start to bear within a year or two. (Pick off any flowers that form the first year or two after planting, to allow the bush to become established.) Be aware that full production is only reached after about 6 years (depending on variety).

ENJOY!


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