Growing blueberries in the Pennsylvania home gardens requires extra care and preparation. Pennsylvania soil tends to be heavy and requires organic matter amendments to increase the nutrient value and water-draining ability. It is important to test the soil pH value on a yearly basis and make amendments as blueberries thrive in an acidic soil. Planting several blueberry bushes in the home garden will produce enough berries to feed a family of four when properly cared for.
Choose a planting location that has a well-draining soil and at least six hours of direct sunlight. Morning sunlight is preferred over afternoon sunlight.
Prepare the planting area one year prior to planting blueberry bushes. Test the soil pH to verify it is between 4.8 to 5.2. Lower the pH by working ground rock sulfur into the soil. Work 3 to 4 inches of organic compost into the soil with a tiller to a depth of 10 inches.
Dig a hole that is the same depth and twice as wide as the blueberry bush root ball. Mix equal parts organic compost into the remove soil to increase the nutrient value.
Set the blueberry plant into the hole making sure the top of the root ball is at ground level. Fill amended soil around the root ball and gently pack in place to eliminate air pockets.
Water the blueberry bush immediately after planting to stimulate root growth. Continue to provide 1 to 2 inches of water to the bush each week during the growing season. Do not cause standing water around the stem and roots, as this will promote root rot.
Apply a 4-inch layer of rotten sawdust or organic mulch around the bushes immediately after planting. Maintain this level of mulch to provide nutrients and assist with soil moisture retention.
Cut back the branches 50 percent after planting to stimulate new growth. Remove all flower blossoms the first two years to force the plant's energy towards growth instead of fruit production.
Fertilize blueberry bushes with ammonium sulfate after the first year of growth. Ammonium sulfate assists with keeping the soil acidic but can burn the roots if applied after planting.
Things You Will Need
- Soil pH test
- Ground rock sulfur
- Organic compost
- Pruning clipper
- Ammonium sulfate
- Blueberry varieties recommended for Pennsylvania are: Bluehaven, Bluejay, Bluecrop and Patriot.
- Place netting over blueberry bushes to prevent berry loss to birds once they start producing.