The blueberry shrub is a woody perennial that produces vitamin-rich berries in mid-summer. Blueberry shrubs are available as either a bare-root specimen or container-grown plant with the container plant being slightly larger and mature. The shrub requires yearly maintenance to maintain an acidic soil for best results with plant growth and fruit production. Blueberries have a shallow root system that dries quickly and is susceptible to root rot when over watered, according to Michigan State University Extension.
Choose a planting area for the blueberry shrub that receives a minimum of six hours direct sunlight and a soil that is acidic and drains well. Test the soil pH to verify it is 4.8 to 5.2. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil with a tiller to lower the pH.
Work 4 inches of organic compost or peat moss into the soil with a tiller to the depth of 10 inches. Let the soil rest for two weeks before planting to let the pH and nutrient amendments absorb and incorporate into the soil.
Prepare the blueberry shrubs by soaking the bare roots in a bucket of water for two hours. This will plump the roots and increase the plant establishment rate. Potted blueberry shrubs do not require soaking.
Dig a hole for the blueberry shrub that is the same depth as the root ball and twice as wide. Set the blueberry shrub in the hole so the top of the root ball is just below soil level. Spread the roots in the hole so they are not in a large clump.
Add an equal amount of organic compost or peat moss to the removed soil and fill it around the blueberry root ball. Gently pack the soil to prevent air pockets around the roots. Water the soil around the shrub well to compact it around the root ball.
Place a 2- to 3-inch layer of acidic mulch around the blueberry shrub. Sawdust or bark mulch works well for blueberries. Monitor the mulch level and refresh it each year to maintain a 3-inch layer.
Water the blueberry shrub with 1 to 2 inches of water each week during the growing season. Blueberry shrubs grow best in an evenly moist soil. Do not allow the soil to dry or become saturated with standing water.
Remove the blueberry shrub blossoms once they appear during the first two growing seasons. This will force the shrub to form strong and healthy fruit-producing branches for a higher berry yield in the third year and after.