Planting and Care Requirements for Blueberry Bushes

Overview

Blueberry bushes are a bush of the genus Vaccinium that produce the edible fruit blueberries in the summer months. They are native to North America, and some species grow to a height of 13 feet tall. Blueberries are believed to be extremely high in antioxidants. They can help lower your cholesterol and perhaps even reduce the risk of cancer. With the right care practices, you can soon be harvesting a bountiful crop of fresh blueberries.

Step 1

Increase the organic matter of the soil by mixing in equal parts grass clippings, manure and leaves (not red maple or beech) one year before planting your blueberry bushes. Mix the organic matter into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil.

Step 2

Perform a soil test on your soil using a pH meter. Blueberry bushes love an acid soil with a pH of 4.0 to 4.5.

Step 3

Lower the pH of your soil if necessary by mixing in granular sulfur into the top 4 inches of the soil three months before planting. Follow the directions on the granular sulfur bag for application rates. It's always best to mix in a little at a time. Test the soil with a pH meter a few days after application and repeat the process as necessary until the soil has a pH of 4.0 to 4.5.

Step 4

Plant your blueberry bush in the spring. Dig a hole that is 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Mix in 1 cubic foot of peat moss with the topsoil and fill the hole until it is only 4 inches deep.

Step 5

Place your blueberry bush in the planting hole and cover the roots with the remainder of the soil mix. Space plants 5 feet apart and rows 10 feet apart.

Step 6

Spread a 4 inch layer of mulch around your blueberry bushes to keep weeds at bay and to prevent premature drying of the soil. The mulched area should be 2 feet wide.

Step 7

Water the soil thoroughly immediately after planting. Keep the soil continuously moist the first few weeks after planting to promote excellent root growth. Afterward, apply water at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per week. Withhold watering after early September unless the soil becomes extremely dry.

Step 8

Fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium). Apply 10 to 16 ounces of fertilizer per 100 feet of row approximately four weeks after planting. Each remaining year apply 2 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. The first pound should be applied when the blueberry bushes bloom, and the second should be applied four to six weeks later.

Step 9

Prune off the blossoms that form the first two years after planting to stimulate vigorous growth. Prune dead and weak branches along with thin wood and blossoms in mid-March of the fourth year. Prune off interior crossing branches to allow light into the center of the bush.

Step 10

Prune off older branches to force new growth in each subsequent year. Prune off tall-growing branches to achieve a shorter, more compact bush. Continue to prune off thin and weak branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Grass clippings, manure and leaves
  • Rototiller
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake
  • pH meter
  • Granular sulfur
  • Peat moss
  • Garden hose
  • Water source
  • Mulch
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Gardening Know How: Information on How to Raise Acid Level in Soil
  • University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program: Growing Blueberries in the Home Landscape
  • Gardening Know How: Growing Blueberry in the Home Garden
  • This Old House: Blueberry Bush Care
Keywords: blueberry bush care, planting blueberry bushes, fertilize blueberries, acidic soil

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.