How to Cultivate Blueberry Bushes

Overview

Blueberry bushes have typically been reserved in the garden for the production of blueberries. But in more recent years, landscapers have selected lower-growing and dwarf varieties of shrub to decorate the yard as well. Blueberry bushes require a lower pH than most other shrubs. Blueberries may be grown successfully in many areas provided that the soil is properly prepared in advance.

Step 1

Select a location for blueberries in full sun.

Step 2

Test the soil before planting to determine the pH. Blueberries prefer a pH between 5.0 and 5.5. You can purchase a pH soil testing kit at a garden center or take a soil sample to a soil testing facility to determine the pH.

Step 3

Examine your soil to determine the soil structure. Blueberries do not grow well in heavy clay soil that has poor drainage. The poor drainage can contribute to root rot. To determine whether the soil is heavy clay, squeeze a fistful of damp soil. Clay soil will hold the shape you squeeze it into. Add organic soil amendments to heavy clay soil to change the structure and improve drainage.

Step 4

Break up the soil in advance to amend it for planting. Use a rototiller to break up the soil to a depth of 12 inches.

Step 5

Spread a four-inch layer of soil amendments over the soil. Soil amendments should include a balanced granular (10-10-10) fertilizer, compost and powdered sulfur to lower your soil pH. Peat moss will help to improve the drainage of your soil and change the structure as well. Additionally, wood chips and sawdust will help aerate the soil and help with drainage.

Step 6

Mix the amendments with the soil by passing a rototiller over the soil.

Step 7

Place blueberry plants in the ground with the rootball an inch higher than the soil line to help with drainage. Fill in the soil around the blueberries. Mulch over the blueberries with a thick layer of pine bark mulch to help choke out grass and weeds that would steal nutrients from the roots of the berry bushes.

Step 8

Check your plants weekly and water with one inch of water every seven to 10 days. Blueberry plants have a shallow root system and are susceptible to damage during drought conditions if they are not watered sufficiently.

Step 9

Remove flowers for the first two springs to prevent berries from forming and improve root development.

Step 10

Prune your blueberry bush yearly. Remove diseased or broken canes as well as any canes that are 7 years old or older. Never remove more than three large, older canes yearly.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil testing kit
  • Rototiller
  • Balanced granular (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Powdered sulfur
  • Peat moss
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Shovel
  • Pine bark mulch
  • Garden hose
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Oregon State University Extension: Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden
  • Ohio State University Extension: Pruning Blueberries in the Home Garden
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Blueberries in Iowa
Keywords: growing blueberry bushes, raising blueberries, cultivating blueberry bushes

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."