How to Grow Blueberries

How to Grow Blueberries

How to Grow Blueberries

In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing blueberries at home.

Quick Guide Information

Common Name: Blueberries

Scientific Name: Vaccinium sp.

Family: Ericaceae

Plant Type:  Bush

Life Span: Perennial

Light Requirement: Full Shade

Optimum pH: 4.5 - 5.5

Whether you like them in jam, pancakes, or just fresh off the bush, blueberries are an awesome fruit to have in your garden. They are one of the highest antioxidant foods out there and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, blueberries have attractive foliage and form small bell-shaped flowers that make it fit for an ornamental garden. There are also many different types of blueberries, one of which is likely well suited for your climate.

+ Blueberries are relatively slow growing plants and can take up to 10-15 years to reach full maturity.

+ They are a perfect plant to put in your garden if you live in areas with acidic soil, a strict requirement for proper growth.

+ Traditionally blueberries were cultivated in moist northern climates that have relatively cool and mild temperatures year-round. Today there are many varieties that have been bred to grow successfully in warmer climates.

+ For successful fruiting, more than one blueberry plant is often necessary for cross pollination.

Propagation

Most gardeners will want to purchase already rooted blueberry plants directly from a nursery. Considering this is already a slow growing plant, buying established plants can save you a lot of time. Not to mention the hassle of caring for the fragile young plants.

If you do want to propagate this can be done through cuttings. Hardwood cuttings can be taken in the winter and softwood cuttings in the early spring. Remove most of the foliage and place in a loose rooting mix consisting of equal parts coco coir, vermiculite, and worm castings. Keep moist and wait for the formation of roots. Once rooted let the plant establish for one year or more in a pot before transplanting.

Planting and Maintenance

+ Remember, blueberries like acidic soils with pH ranging from 4.5-5.5. Without this Blueberries will grow slowly and suffer from pests and disease.

+ Blueberries prefer full sun and should be spaced about 1.5m apart to allow room for growth.

+ Blueberries like moist well-draining soils. They are prone to be damaged from water logging easily. People with strong dry seasons should consider supplementing with irrigation.

+ Blueberries enjoy fertile soil and will do significantly better with 10-20 liters of compost when planted. You can also top dress every spring with compost to improve their growth.

+ It is best to plant at least 3-4 plants in close proximity to promote proper pollination.

+ Patient gardeners will remove flowers from the plant for the first 3-4 years to promote vegetative growth.

+ Blueberries love a good layer of mulch 10cm or more in depth. This helps keep soil moist and the soil temperatures cool. Oak and pine needle mulch can also help acidify the soil.

+ After 4 or 5 years blueberries should be cut back to ground level. This will promote the growth of new stems which will fruit more vigorously.

Common Problems

+ Yellowing of leaves can be caused by too high of pH. Amending heavily with compost and coffee grounds can help lower the pH naturally. Alternatively, you can try watering with diluted vinegar (1 cup for 4 liters of water) or using a sulfur soil amendment. The latter is potent and should be applied as indicated by the directions of the product.

+ If environmental conditions are properly met blueberries are generally free of pests and disease. If you are experiencing these issues, consider adjusting pH or changing the location/care of your plant.


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