How to Care for New Blueberry Plants

Overview

Blueberry bushes are a handy plant to have in the home landscape. A healthy plant will provide hundreds of berries for snacking or baking every year during the course of its long lifetime, and will brighten the landscape when the leaves turn red every autumn. Spend a little extra time getting a new blueberry plant off to a good start, and once its established, it will require very little care.

Step 1

Keep young blueberry plants evenly moist throughout their first growing season. If you have a way of collecting rainwater, it will be especially good for new blueberries, because rainwater is usually more acidic.

Step 2

Hoe weeds within 4 feet of blueberry plants, and continue to keep the area weed-free. Weeds will sap the moisture and nutrients that should be directed to the plant. Hoe shallowly and carefully, because blueberry roots will be near the surface and can easily be damaged.

Step 3

Remove blossoms from blueberry plants every spring for the first two years. Allowing the plants to bear fruit during the first two seasons will hinder their long-term growth. Removing the blossoms will focus the plant's energy on developing sturdy, full bushes.

Step 4

Apply a 4-inch layer of mulch such as sawdust or fine wood chips around new blueberry bushes. Spread the mulch in a 2-foot circle around the plant, but leave a margin, and don't allow the mulch to pile up on the base of the plant. Mulch will conserve moisture and will help to control weeds. Re-apply mulch in autumn.

Step 5

Feed blueberry bushes for the first time when the leaves have emerged, and sprinkle a tablespoon of dry fertilizer around the base of the plant. A fertilizer formulated for rhododendrons and azaleas is especially good for young blueberries, and will have the correct balance of nutrients. Feed the bushes again in mid-summer.

Step 6

Pinch off the tips of long canes that will grow in the middle of the bush in mid-to-late summer. Removing the tips will encourage the plant to grow outward, creating a fuller, bushy plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer formulated for rhododendrons or azaleas

References

  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden
  • The Dorset Blueberry Company
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Blueberries for Home Landscapes
Keywords: blueberry plants, wood chips, dry fertilizer

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.