Highbush Blueberry Gardening!
Home Gardening: Everyone loves blueberries! We have been asked many times how you can grow your own blueberries to enjoy this sweet treat during the summer months! Your best resource for horticultural information in your area is the Cooperative Extension Service or County Agent. You can also look in your local Yellow Pages and locate nurseries near you who are knowledgeable of blueberries. We wish you luck and hope this whets your appetite to head for the produce and frozen foods section during the months of the year your blueberries are not in season.
STARTING RIGHT WITH BLUEBERRIES
Blueberries bring a unique combination of delicious fruit and striking ornamental beauty to the garden and landscape. Blueberries are easy to grow, require little care, and are seldom bothered by pests. If a few basic steps are followed your blueberry plants can thrive and last a lifetime.
Blueberry varieties are distinguished by their climate suitability and ripening season. Be sure to choose varieties suited to your area. You may want to select varieties that ripen at different times or feature large fruit (best for fresh eating and desserts) or small fruit (best for muffins and pancakes). Bushes with brilliant fall color or different growth habits offer the gardener lots of choices to use throughout the landscape. For blueberry lovers, allow at least two plants per family member.
Site Selection and Preparation
Select a sunny location in well drained
soil free of weeds and well worked. Locate in an area where irrigation
water is available as best results will be obtained by keeping the root
zone moist throughout the growing season. Where the soil is poor or
marginally drained, raised beds 3-4 feet wide and 8-12" high work very
well for blueberries.
A fail safe way to grow blueberries in
almost any soil is to incorporate peat moss into the planting medium.
For planting directly in the ground, work up a planting area approximately
2-1/2 feet in diameter and one foot deep. Remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil.
Add an equal amount of pre-moistened peat moss and mix well. One 4 cubic
foot compressed bale will usually be sufficient for 4-5 plants, for
raised beds mix equal volumes peat moss with acid compost or planting
mix. Blueberries thrive in acidic soils. Your garden center representative
can recommend a soil acidifier if necessary for your area.
- Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2 feet
apart to form solid hedgerows or spaced up to 6 feet apart and grown
as individual specimens. If planted in rows, allow 8-10 feet between
the rows depending on equipment used for mowing or cultivating.
Pruning - It is important that blueberries get established before allowing them to bear fruit. Thereafter, they should be heavily pruned each year to avoid over fruiting which results in small or poor growth.
Remove all blooms as they appear the first. year. In years thereafter, follow these steps after the leaves have dropped.
Fertilizing - Blueberries like acid fertilizers such as Rhody or Azalea formulations. For newly planted stock, use 2 tablespoons of 10-20-10 (or similar fertilizer) in late spring or once plants are established. (Careful! Blueberries are very sensitive to over fertilization!) For subsequent years, use 1 ounce of fertilizer for each year from planting to a total of 8 ounces per plant. Apply in early spring and again in late spring for best results. Always water well after fertilizing.
For organic fertilizers, blood meal and cottonseed meal
work well. Avoid using fresh manure.
_Blueberry Plants (2 per family member)
Whitesbog Preservation Trust, New Jersey. (The home of the highbush blueberry)
North American Blueberry Council (NABC) U-Pick Directory.
Blueberry Council Blueberry Festivals Directory.
Copyright 2002 - U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council