Planting and General Care Information
When you receive
your blueberry bushes please note the different varieties. We recommend that you
make a planting map of your blueberry patch for future reference. If you ordered
from our website, your blueberry bushes have been packaged bare root and will
arrive via UPS with moist roots. Remove your blueberry bushes from the packaging
taking care not to damage the roots or plant stems and place the roots in cool
water for 1 to 2 hours in a shaded area. If you need to hold the plants for a
few days prior to planting then pack the roots lightly in wet peat moss, make
sure the root system is completely covered with the damp peat moss and keep it
moist until you have them planted. If you purchased potted blueberry bushes at
our nursery, water them as soon as you get them home and place them in a
partially shaded area until you are ready to plant them.
Blueberries prefer to be planted in a partially shaded area, but can also grow
well in full sun. When planting blueberries that will be harvested by hand, the
plants should be spaced 6 feet apart in rows, with rows spaced 12 feet apart. A
mature highbush blueberry's size on average is 6 feet tall by 6 feet across.
Blueberries require a PH of 4.5 to 5.5. You should test your soil prior to
planting. Your local cooperative
extension agency can help you get an accurate soil test, specific to blueberries
for a reasonable cost. There are also many different PH testing probes and
testing kits available for home gardeners.
NOTE: It is very important to get your PH right when planting blueberries
and it is easiest to adjust your PH prior to planting.
IF YOUR PH IS
CORRECT: Dig a hole large enough to hold 2 or 3 gallons of wet peat. Mix the wet
peat moss half and half with the existing soil. This will give your plant an
ideal soil to grow in and will lesson or eliminate transplant shock. When you
are ready to plant please inspect the base of the plant right above the root
system and notice the change in the stem between it and the root system, this is
where you should make your soil line when planting, it need not be exact but
close. It is important to not bury the stem to deep. If you are planting a
container grown plant the soil line in the pot, should also be level with the
top of the soil line in the ground. You
want to cover all the roots with soil, but not bury the stem to deep. After
planting your blueberry plants, it is best to mulch around the plant. Hold the
mulch back from the base of the bush an inch or two.
IF YOUR PH IS NOT
CORRECT: Amending the PH of your soil prior to planting is best. If your soil PH
is too high, granulated sulfur can be used to adjust the PH.
A soil test specific for growing
blueberries will tell you how much sulfur needs to be applied if your PH is too
high. You have to be very careful applying sulfur, too much can harm or kill
blueberry plants. Sulfur needs to be applied 60-90 days prior to planting.
Otherwise only a very small amount can be applied around the plants at a time.
Peat Moss is the perfect PH for blueberries so adding it to your soil is
helpful. You will occasionally want
to check the PH of the soil in the area in which your blueberry bushes are
planted and adjust it as necessary. It is extremely important you have the
correct PH or your plants may not grow, show poor growth or die.
Blueberries like moist well drained soil. It is very important that you water
your blueberry plants regularly, especially the first year. Water throughout the
growing season, it is generally not necessary to water blueberries plants after
they go dormant in the fall. Blueberries should be watered often, but over
watering for extended periods of time may be harmful, if the top inch is damp
Blueberries like to be mulched with just about any type of organic matter. Mulch
your blueberries with 2 -4 inches of wood chips, pine bark mulch or needles,
peat moss, saw-dust, or decomposed leaves to help retain moisture. Hold the
mulch back from the base of the bush an inch or two.
Blueberry plants will grow better if you fertilize them. Blueberries are acid
loving plants, so generally any fertilizer recommended for rhododendrons or
azaleas will work well. For a home-owner patch we often recommend feeding with a
product such as Miracle-Grow for Acid Loving Plants. If you are an organic
gardener we recommend you use Neptune's Harvest or AGGrand on your blueberries.
Always follow the instructions on the
label. For conventional farmers, we typically recommend fertilizing with
19-19-19 in the spring at a quarter inch green tip, followed six weeks later by
an application of ammonium sulfate.
PRUNING: Pruning can
be necessary to remove dead or broken stems as your plants grow. As your
blueberry bushes mature, annual pruning to remove the oldest canes will increase
your plants vigor and help them stay productive. Pruning blueberry plants
encourages new growth. Each cane
reaches it optimal fruit production when it is 3 to 5 years old. Starting when
the plants are around seven years old you should start taking out 1 to 3 of the
oldest canes per year. Generally, a mature blueberry bush can be pruned back 15%
without decreasing the quantity of fruit you harvest, while maintaining the
longevity of the plant. Pruning can be done any-time after the fruit harvest and
throughout the fall and winter.
Do not prune to shape your blueberry
bushes, the fruit comes on the ends of the branches so shaping will simply be
cutting off the fruit buds.
INFORMATION: Blueberries are shallow
rooted & should not be tilled, keep the area around the bushes mulched and mowed
for attractive appearance & ease of picking. Blueberries are attractive plants
with beautiful bell shaped flowers in the spring that turn into large clusters
of delicious blueberries in June and July. Blueberries have bright green foliage
in the summer that turns to brilliant shades of orange and red in the fall.
Blueberries make nice hedges, landscape groups & backyard gardens. Highly
profitable for commercial growers, they take 5 to 7 years after planting to
reach full production.
healthy for you; they are rated highest in antioxidants of the top 20 fruits &
vegetables. In general blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidant
phytonutrients of all fresh fruits & vegetables. Blueberries are high in vitamin
C, dietary fiber and manganese.
Antioxidant capacity doesn't change during storage. Dietary antioxidants such as
the anthocyanins contained in blueberries have been studied for their positive
health benefits. USDA researchers have identified blueberries as the top
defender for body cells against free radicals which cause aging and diseases in
the body of the top 20 fruits and vegetables studied.
serving size of 280g or 1 pint of blueberries has 160 calories, but no calories
from fat. Total fat 0g is 0%, Saturated Fat 0g is 0%, Cholesterol 0mg is 0% ,
Sodium 0mg is 0%, Total Carbohydrate 19g is 6%, Dietary Fiber 5g is 20%, Sugars
9g is 20%, Protein 1g and Vitamin C is 15%.
Blueberries are easy to care for and maintain. I cannot stress this enough, they require a ph of 4.5 to 5.5, if a blueberry bush is not doing well or is dying it is nearly always because the ph is wrong ! They like to be mulched with peat moss, wood chips, sawdust, pine needles, leaves or other acid content organic materials.
In the fall your bushes will start turning red and orange, this is what they are supposed to do, the stems may also take on a red hue, after the leaves are red they will fall off for the winter, if you look closely you will see buds on the branches, depending on the age of your bush you will see small leaf buds and larger more swollen looking fruit buds, the fruit buds will be more toward the end of the branches or stems, each of the fruit buds will produce fruit the next summer, so never trim off the ends of the branches, that's where the fruit will be. When spring arrives the leaf buds will begin to open and soon pink & white flowers will follow on the fruit buds, the flowers have a nice light fragrance, as the flower petals fall off you will see the beginnings of tiny green berries forming, they will look very much like tiny peas with a ruffle around one end, these tiny green berries will get larger and larger until finally they start to turn reddish then get a purple tint then turn blue, wait until they are a dark blue and appear to have a dusting on them, then they are ready for picking, the usual picking time is 2-3 weeks depending on the variety you have.
How can you tell on which part of the blueberry bush will your berries be? There are fruit buds and leaf buds.
When your plants are coming out of dormancy you will observe large buds toward the tips of your bushes, these large buds are the fruit buds, each of these will eventually have a cluster of berries on them.
The leaf buds are much smaller, also the leaf buds will run down the length of the branches and not just toward the tips.
There are many ways to harvest blueberries. Handpicking is the preferred choice for fresh fruit eye appeal, a blueberry rake can be used as an alternative. For the commercial market blueberry catchers along with hand or powered beaters are used and harvesting machines are an economical way for larger blueberry farms.
To handpick your blueberries cup your hands around the bottom of the cluster of berries and gently but firmly using your thumbs and forefingers roll the berries off the stems into your hands.
Blueberries are great frozen, just pick them and freeze unwashed or washed, but make sure they are dry before you freeze them or they will clump together. You can enjoy blueberries in your baked goods, pancakes, muffins, jams, jellies, on ice cream, cereal, pies or just plain, blueberries are a tasty healthy snack that can be enjoyed all year long.