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How to Plant Blueberry Bushes

Blueberry bushes are attractive ornamental shrubs that will be covered with tiny white flowers in the spring, bright green foliage in the summer and will light up the yard in autumn when the leaves turn bright orange and red. Best of all, in mid-summer, you can pick handfuls of the delicious, tiny berries. Eat them straight from the bush, stir them into yogurt or cereal, or incorporate them into your favorite muffin or pancake recipe.

Purchase young blueberry bushes from a garden center or nursery. Young bushes may cost a bit more but will have a much better chance of survival than bare-root plants. Blueberry bushes should be planted in early spring as soon as the danger of frost has passed.

Remove all weeds, then hoe an area measuring about two feet wide and two feet deep for each blueberry bush. Work into the site several shovels of organic matter, such as peat moss, compost or straw. This will enrich the soil and improve the drainage. Blueberries have shallow roots, and even two or three days of standing water can kill young plants. The soil should be prepared about two weeks before planting.

Dig a large hole that's deep enough to accommodate the root and that's twice as wide. Plant the blueberry bush, put a hose in the hole and let the water run until the hole is filled. When the water has soaked in, fill the hole with soil and tamp it down with the shovel. If you are planting more than one blueberry bush, leave at least five feet between each plant.

Keep the area around the blueberry bush free of weeds. Because blueberry bushes have shallow roots, weeds will rob them of needed water and nutrients. A two- to three-inch layer of mulch will control weeds and conserve moisture.

Give the blueberry bush about an inch of water each week during the growing season--slightly more in hot weather. Several light waterings are preferable to one deep watering.

Prune blueberry bushes lightly for the first eight years, the time it takes for the plants to reach full maturity. A light pruning means that you will remove only dead branches, and branches that look thin and weak. After eight years, continue to rid the plant of weak or dead branches, but also prune off about a third of the oldest branches each year. Prune blueberry bushes in late winter or early spring, before you see any new growth.

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