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How to Care for a Blueberry Bush

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How to Care for a Blueberry Bush

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Overview

Berries provide backyard fruit production without the need for an entire orchard. Blueberries grow on bushes and are prolific producers of fruit to use in jams, for baking or for eating fresh off the bush. They freeze well for storage and are a source of fiber. Caring for your blueberries so they continue to produce well year after year requires preparation before you plant and ongoing maintenance thereafter. Talk with your local extension office before planting to find the best blueberry variety for your climate and region.

Step 1

Add sulfur to the soil to raise the acidity, if necessary. You can test your soil with a home pH test kit, which is available at your local garden supply center. Choose an area with light and sandy soil that has high organic matter.

Step 2

Plant your blueberry bush in a well-drained area that isn't prone to water collection or sogginess. Blueberry bushes prefer full-sun areas, away from trees and other plants that compete with them for sun and soil nutrients. Avoid overcrowding, as this blocks the sun and leads to poor air circulation, which may lead to disease.

Step 3

Mulch around the blueberry bush with a 3-inch layer of Douglas-fir sawdust, which doesn't compromise the acidity of the soil and prefers soil moisture.

Step 4

Water the base of the plant, and avoid splashing water on the underside of the leaves. Water weekly, as blueberry plants require 1 1/2 to 3 inches of water per week. Allow natural rainfall to make up a portion of the water requirement, and water to supply the difference.

Step 5

Fertilize the blueberry plant with 0.2 ozs. of nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, sometime in April in most areas. Fertilize a second time in midsummer, from late June to early July. Apply the fertilizer 12 inches away from the plant, and avoid getting it on the stems or the crown of the blueberry bush.

Step 6

Prune your blueberry bush starting in the third winter, from January to March, while the plant is dormant but when the buds are visible. Cut out any dead or damaged branches as well as branches near the base of the plant that are four years old and no longer producing.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid overpruning. Berries are only produced on old growth of more than a year old, not on new growth. Overwatering will drown the roots and cause them to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test kit
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Oregon State University
  • Ohio State University Extension
Keywords: blueberry care, growing berries, backyard fruit production

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.