How to Trim Blueberry Plants

Overview

Blueberries are a summer fruit that you can grow in your home garden if you have a little space. The plants need plenty of sunlight all day and favor acidic, well-drained soil. Three main types of blueberries are available: highbush, rabbiteye and southern highbush. Rabbiteye and southern highbush are best for gardens in the southern United States, while highbush blueberries are recommended for more northerly states. Expect your first harvest three years after planting. Until then it is unnecessary to trim or prune your plants.

Step 1

Trim off all blossoms during your blueberry's first and second years in the ground, using garden clippers. This practice will stimulate the growth needed for good fruit production in succeeding years.

Step 2

Prune dormant 3- and 4-year-old blueberry plants in March. Concentrate your pruning on dead, damaged and weak branches with thin wood and small buds. If any interior branches cross each other, trim them off to their bases; this will help introduce light to the plant's interior region. The website Hardy Gardening recommends leaving eight to 10 strong canes that grow from the plant's crown.

Step 3

Trim older branches on older plants to stimulate new growth. The goal is to thin them out by cutting tall branches about halfway to the ground and cutting thin branches to the ground.

Step 4

Cut off about half the flower buds that are beginning to form on shoots to force the plant to produce larger berries. If buds occur on low branches that occur less than 1 foot from the ground, remove those branches to ground level.

Step 5

Prune your blueberry bush to control its size and shape, which can make harvesting easier, according to Michigan State University. Keeping your plant upright and compact helps its fruit production and appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden clippers

References

  • Hardy Gardening: How to Grow Blueberries
  • Michigan State University: Hints on Growing Blueberries
  • Ohio State University: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden
Keywords: blueberry growingq, gardening fruit, trimming pruning, highbush rabbiteye

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.