How to Plant Blueberry Bushes in Alabama
The blueberry bush is a perennial plant with hardy varieties available for most growing areas in North America. The rabbiteye blueberry species is native to the southern United States and grows well in Alabama as this variety has few problems with pests. Rabbiteye blueberries are available in early, mid and late season ripening varieties. Plant several variety types in the home garden to lengthen the harvest season and have fresh blueberries throughout the summer.
Select a growing area in the home garden that has a well-aerated and draining soil. The area must receive at least six hours of direct sunlight for best results.
Test the garden soil as blueberry plants grow best in an acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil to a dept of 6 to 8 inches to lower the soil pH. Apply water to assist with absorption and let the soil rest for two weeks before planting.
Work 2 to 3 inches of organic compost into the soil to a depth of 10 inches with a tiller. This will increase the nutrient value and water-draining properties of the soil. Alabama has a silty loam soil that benefits from adding organic matter.
Dig a planting hole for the blueberry bush that is two times as wide as and slightly deeper than the root ball. Add a layer of organic compost into the hole and set the plant on top so the root ball is approximately 1/2 inch below the soil surface.
Fill the hole halfway with soil and add water to compact it around the root ball. Fill the remaining hole area once the water absorbs into the surround soil. Water the planting area well to compact the soil and moisten the root ball.
Prune to remove 1/3 to 1/2 the branch length. This will allow the plant to put energy into root establish and stimulate new branch growth. Remove blossoms that form the first two growing seasons to force energy into branch and foliage growth, as this will increase future berry production.
Provide supplemental water to the blueberries plants during the spring and summer growing season. Blueberry bushes require 1 to 2 inches of water each week for best production.
Apply a 2 to 4 inch layer of sawdust or bark mulch over the root ball area of the blueberry bushes. This will increase moisture retention and limit weed growth that competes with moisture.
Apply a slow-release, high-acid fertilizer each spring after the first year of growth. Blueberries do not require additional fertilizer applications as over-fertilizing can damage the shallow root system.
Place netting over the blueberry plants during berry production to prevent loss to birds.
- Apply a slow-release, high-acid fertilizer each spring after the first year of growth. Blueberries do not require additional fertilizer applications as over-fertilizing can damage the shallow root system.
- Place netting over the blueberry plants during berry production to prevent loss to birds.
- Blueberry bush
- Soil pH test
- Ground rock sulfur
- Organic compost
- Pruning clipper
- High acid fertilizer
- Bird netting