Care of Blueberry Bushes

Overview

Blueberry bushes are ideal for home gardens due to their small space requirement in the landscape. Blueberries do have some special care requirements that may put gardeners off initially, but the payoff in berries for jams, desserts or fresh eating make the extra effort worthwhile. New blueberry bushes should be planted in late spring with the first harvest occurring three years later, according to the Ohio State University Extension.

Step 1

Plant the blueberry bushes in a location that offers full sunlight and a well-draining, acidic soil. Test the soil pH to verify it is 4.0 to 5.0. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil at least two weeks prior to planting the bushes to lower the pH number.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is 15 inches deep and 24 inches wide for each bush. Work organic compost into the removed soil and several inches into the bottom of the hole. Set the bush into the hole so the top of the roots are placed 3 to 4 inches below ground level. Pack soil around the root ball and water well to eliminate air pockets.

Step 3

Remove flowers that form on the blueberry bushes for the first two growing seasons. This will force the bush to create vegetative growth instead of berry production.

Step 4

Water the blueberry bushes to keep the soil moist, but not saturated, during the growing season. Provide supplemental water when the weekly rainfall is less than 1 inch.

Step 5

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of sawdust mulch over the root ball area of the bushes. This will increase moisture retention and limit weed growth. Replace the mulch each spring to maintain an adequate layer around the plants.

Step 6

Fertilize the blueberry bushes each spring with an acid-producing fertilizer. Do not apply fertilizer after plant blooming or late in the season, as this encourages growth that may be damaged by winter weather, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Azalea fertilizer works well for blueberry bushes.

Step 7

Prune blueberry bushes annually in early spring to remove dead and damaged branches. Remove old branches to stimulate new growth as fruit is produced on one-year-old branches. Prune thin branches that produce many blossoms but few leaves to increase berry size on other branches.

Step 8

Place bird netting over the bushes if there is a problem with berry loss to birds. The bottom of the netting should be secured to prevent birds from walking into the protected area.

Tips and Warnings

  • The University of Minnesota Extension warns that soil with a pH level of 7.0 or greater is too alkaline to successfully grow blueberries, even with amendments.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Water
  • Sawdust mulch
  • Acid-producing fertilizer
  • Pruning clipper
  • Bird netting

References

  • University of Minnesota: Blueberries for Home Landscape
  • Ohio State University: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden
Keywords: grow blueberry bushes, care blueberry bushes, plant blueberry bushes

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.