Growing Blueberry Bushes in Northeast Michigan

Overview

Blueberries will grow in Michigan and actually can be found growing wild in both the high bush and the low bush varieties. Parts of northern Michigan may be too cold in the winters to cultivate blueberries because the low temperatures can harm the buds. Michigan State University Extension horticulturists Jim Hancock and Eric Hanson say that the area south of a line extending from Muskegon to the lower end of Saginaw Bay is the traditional blueberry growing region. There are exceptions if the bushes are grown in an area with a microclimate where the temperatures are a little more mild. Blueberries have specific growing requirements. If you can provide the right environment, you can expect a bountiful crop for many years.

Step 1

Find a good site for planting your blueberry bushes. Full sun is best and on a raised hill or slope will help ensure the proper drainage. Try to keep them out of low areas where the cool air can fall and pool in the early spring, freezing the developing blossoms. Low areas can also have a higher water table, which is not good for blueberries that need good drainage.

Step 2

Prepare the soil. Blueberries need a highly acidic soil as well as excellent drainage. Soil with half sand and half decomposing wood products such as root mulch, straw, peat moss or other organic matter will provide enough moisture retention and good drainage.

Step 3

Check with your local extension office to find out which type of blueberries should be grown in your area. The office has charts on the different blueberries when it comes to cold hardiness, the number of required growing days, as well as the size and quality of fruit.

Step 4

Plant the blueberry bushes in the early spring about 4 feet apart in rows that are at least 6 feet apart or more if you plan to use machinery. The holes should be just a little larger than the root ball. Set the plants 2 inches deeper than they were planted in the nursery. If the soil is mostly sand, you can add a shovelful of peat moss to the hole. Tamp the soil well around the plant.

Step 5

Fertilize the soil under the plants with elemental sulfur to keep it well acidified. Michigan soil tends to have good levels of the necessary minerals. Nitrogen is almost always required by blueberries because they grow in soils heavy in decomposing organic matter, which pulls the nitrogen out.

Step 6

Prune the bushes during the early spring before growth starts. Canes older than five years should be cut back. Remove the branches growing close to the ground as well as any that were snapped during the winter. Thin out thick groupings of branches so the sunlight can get in.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood mulch
  • Elemental sulfur
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Michigan State University Extension: Hints on Growing Blueberries
  • Michigan State University Extension: Blueberry Varieties for Michigan
Keywords: blueberries Michigan, growing fruit, bush pruning

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and eHow.com. Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.