How to Care for Blueberry Bushes

Overview

Juicy blueberries are a welcome addition in pies and jams. It is much simpler to incorporate a few blueberry bushes into your landscaping than it is to add the same amount of fruit-bearing trees. There are varieties available that grow well in nearly every region of the United States, and many are prolific producers of fresh berries. Ensure your blueberry bush produces at the height of its ability for many years by caring for it properly. It takes approximately six years before a bush reaches peak productivity.

Step 1

Test the soil pH with a home testing kit, available at garden centers or from your local extension office. Amend the soil with additional sulfur as needed to maintain a soil pH between 4 and 4.5 percent.

Step 2

Keep nearby trees and other plants pruned so that the blueberry bushes receive full sunlight throughout the day. Remove any weeds or other plants that grow around the base of the bushes, as these affect air circulation and may lead to disease.

Step 3

Provide one to two inches of water a week for each blueberry bush. Water at the base of each bush and avoid getting the underside of the foliage wet, which may cause fungus problems.

Step 4

Remove blossoms the first two years from the bushes so berries do not set. This allows the bush to focus on healthy root and branch growth instead of premature berry production and leads to healthier plants.

Step 5

Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in April, May and June. Apply the fertilizer six inches away from the bush's trunk and avoid touching the plant directly with the fertilizer.

Step 6

Begin pruning your blueberry bushes in the third year and every year thereafter. Prune in late winter when the bush is still dormant and not actively growing. Remove all dead and damaged canes with sharp pruning shears. Remove branches that are more than 4 years old, but leave last year's growth on the plant as this is what produces berries.

Tips and Warnings

  • Treat insect and disease problems immediately with an organic or chemical solution or it will spread to all the bushes.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Ohio State University Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
Keywords: blueberry bushes, caring for fruit crops, 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.