How Are Blueberry Bushes Trimmed?

Purpose of Trimming Blueberries

Blueberry bushes produce the bulk of their fruit on young and middle-aged wood each year. Annual pruning is required to thin older wood and spur the growth of new fruiting canes. Conducted primarily in the spring or fall, pruning should accomplish three basic goals: Open the top of the bush and narrow the base to encourage sunlight, remove some older and all dead wood to increase fruiting, and create a mix of older and newer fruiting canes to sustain steady production over many years.

Increasing Fruit Production

Your goal should be to achieve a balance in each bush between new wood that is coming into blueberry production, canes at the peak of production and canes 7 years old or more that are slowing in their production. Each year cut away two to three mature canes 7 years or older down to the crown of the plant. Do not remove more than three, as this will disrupt fruit production. Remove any crowded branches that create congestion in the plant canopy to increase sunlight exposure down into the center of the plant. Sunlight is a flavor enhancer for blueberries and increase yields, so you want to maximize its effects.

Removing Dead & Damaged Canes

Cut away all dead canes down to the crown of the plant, pulling them out of the canopy and discarding them. Inspect for diseased or damaged canes and cut those back, either to the crown of the plant or until you hit healthy cane tissue. Cut away any canes touching or within a foot of the ground to prevent disease-friendly conditions. First remove all diseased and broken canes or ones growing too low to the ground. Trim any canes that are abrading one another which is damage waiting to occur. Cut away any non-fruiting vegetative growth such as small twigs and water sprouts. To maintain a healthy bush, always remove all of the cuttings and debris from within and underneath the bush, leaving a clean soil surface.

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About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.