Blueberries are actually a relatively “new” garden plant. Prior to being grown in gardens around the country, blueberries could only be found in the wild. Now that we have tamed them, how do we plant them and have a successful crop?
Where do I find blueberry bushes for planting?
Before you can plant blueberry bushes, you need to research places to buy them in your local area. In the early spring, as garden centers and farmer’s market begin to open throughout the colder climates, blueberry starter bushes will begin to show up. In warmer climates, you may have an easier time finding them almost any time of year. No matter where you buy from, here are the things you want to look for when purchasing:
- Check the plant for disease or spots on the foliage
- Look for a grower who guarantees the quality of the bush
- Buy a bush that is the right age. You want to look for bushes between 2 and 3 years old
I purchased my blueberry bushes, what is the best way to plant them?
Blueberries like to be planted as early in the spring as possible, but only after the last frost. Once you are certain your tender plants won’t be bitten by a cold blast from the North, choose a nice sunny spot. If you are planting more than one bush, plant them in clusters. Blueberry bushes do not like to be too far away from one another, or spread out around the garden. If you have found the ideal spot, following these steps will help ensure successful planting:
- Blueberries love acidic soil (a pH of 4 to 5). If your soil is not acidic enough, mix in some granulated sulfur, pine needles or peat moss to help out.
- Dig a hole approximately 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide for EACH bush, spacing them 4 feet apart in a row and double that (8 feet apart) between rows. As your blueberries mature, this allows you room to maneuver through the rows to harvest your delicious berries.
- Place your blueberry bushes in the hole, making sure to spread out the roots. Don’t plant the bush deeper than it was in its pot.
- Pack the hole with an even mixture of soil and compost.
- Fertilize your blueberry bushes once a month.
I don’t have room for blueberry bushes in my garden, will they grow in a container?
Absolutely! Blueberries are wonderful patio container plants and have the added benefit of being aesthetically pleasing as well. If you live in an urban area, or simply don’t have the garden space to give up, here is how to grow your own blueberries in containers.
- Find large containers with good drainage holes. Blueberry plants do not like overly wet soil.
- Make sure your potting soil is highly acidic to provide the right pH for your plants. If it isn’t, you can adapt it by adding the same acidic additives mentioned above.
- Place an inch or so of river rock into the bottom of your pot to assist with soil draining.
- Add about 3 inches of potting soil on top of your river rock.
- To place your blueberry bush in the pot, make sure the roots are spread and center the plant in the middle of the pot.
- Add potting soil, packing lightly to give the plant support, until you are near the top edge of the pot.
- Add mulch on top of your potting soil to help retain moisture if you live in a dryer area or are experiencing dry conditions.
Place your container in a sunny spot.
Now that my blueberry bushes are planted and doing well, how do I maintain them?
You have done all the work to get your blueberry bushes happily planted, you certainly don’t want anything to happen to them, whether it is weather related or pest related. In order to maintain your blueberries throughout the growing season, here are some things to watch for and do:
- Adding mulch around the base of your bushes will help maintain healthy moisture levels
- If you live in an area that does not get at least one inch of rain per week, you will need to water your blueberries to supplement the lack of rainfall.
- Drape birds netting over your plants to keep birds from harvesting your berries.
- Fertilize your plants once a month.
- The first year of growth, it is best to not allow the plants to bear fruit so that the energy goes toward growth. Removing plant blossoms as you see them, will give you a hardier crop in the coming years.
Once you have your blueberries planted and give them some time and love in their first year, by the second year, you will be enjoying bountiful bowls of berries right at your fingertips!