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Winter Care for Blueberry Plants

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Winter Care for Blueberry Plants

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Overview

Winter does not kill off blueberry plants as it does other plants. Highbush varieties of blueberries will survive temperatures down to -20 degrees F, according to North Dakota State University. Pruning the plant in the winter when it enters dormancy improves your harvests and the plant's growth for the rest of the year, but Oregon University recommends waiting until the third year of growth to prune. Keeping your blueberries healthy throughout the winter will give you more berries in the summer harvest season.

Step 1

Cut any dead, diseased and decaying branches from the blueberry bush in January or February. Wear gardening gloves to prevent scratching your hands as you sort through the old growth to choose the branches best for pruning off.

Step 2

Prune off any branches thinner than a pencil. Cut these tiny branches down to the spot where the branch begins to narrow.

Step 3

Trim any old canes which do not produce berries back to the ground. Identify these oldest canes by their peeling, gray bark. Leave behind six to 12 canes with pairs of branches of the same age, as indicated by their diameter. For instance, if you have a three-year-old plant, leave two one-year-old branches, two two-year-old branches and two three-year-old branches intact for future growth.

Step 4

Apply a 4- to 6-inch deep layer of organic mulch around the base of the blueberries. Choose organic mulches such as leaf compost or straw to provide insulation for the plant and to prevent cold damage and excessive drying of the soil.

Step 5

Keep the blueberry plant well watered throughout the winter so the soil feels damp to the touch, recommends North Carolina State University; damp soil holds warmth better than dry soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Organic mulch (straw, pine bark, or wood chips)

References

  • North Dakota State University: Questions on Blueberries
  • Oregon State University: Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden
  • University of Maine: Growing Highbush Blueberries
  • North Carolina State University: Blueberry Freeze Damage and Protection Measures
Keywords: winter protection blueberry, blueberries winter, winter care berries

About this Author

Athena Hessong began her freelance writing career in 2004. She draws upon experiences and knowledge gained from teaching all high school subjects for seven years. Hessong earned a Bachelor's in Arts in history from the University of Houston and is a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists.