How to Plant & Grow Blueberry Bushes
You can enjoy sweet blueberries from your own backyard if you plant and grow a few blueberry bushes on your property. Most types of blueberries are self-pollinating, meaning that you only need one bush to produce fruit, but you can improve your yield if you grow other blueberry varieties nearby. Once your blueberry bushes are established, they will produce decades of fruit with a minimum amount of care.
Select a planting site for your blueberry bushes with full sun and with few or no nearby trees and plants. Blueberry bushes have shallow root systems and do not compete well for water and nutrition with other large rooted trees, plants and weeds.
Condition the soil at the planting site the year before you plant your blueberry bushes. Blueberries prefer soil pH levels between 4.0 and 5.0. Test the planting site soil pH level with a commercially available test kit. If you need to reduce the pH of the soil, add four to six inches of acid peat moss. Mix the peat moss into the first eight inches of topsoil. Add nutrients to the soil with a layer of organic compost.
Plant blueberry bushes in the spring after the last frost date. Place the plants five to six feet apart in rows that are eight to 10 feet apart. If you’re planting several blueberry bushes, you could dig a trench rather than individual holes.
Add a three-inch layer of wood chip, shredded bark, oak leaf or sawdust mulch around the plants to help maintain soil acidity and to help retain moisture.
Make sure your blueberry bushes receive at least one inch of water every week. The best water for your blueberries is rainwater or saved rainwater. Tap water will increase the alkalinity of the soil’s pH level.
Fertilize the blueberry bushes in the spring with organic azalea fertilizer or other fertilizer that’s formulated for acid-loving plants.
Remove all of the blossoms from the blueberry bushes that appear during the first season. Removing the blossoms helps establish your blueberry bushes with stronger root systems and will lead to a better harvest during the second year.
Protect your blueberry bushes from birds with bird netting. Drape netting over each individual plant or build a wooden frame and drape netting over all of the bushes at once.
Prune blueberry bushes annually in late winter. Remove and discard all of the dead wood along with the top one-third of the growth on bushes planted the previous spring. Remove old canes that are more than one inch in diameter at the ground level to make way for new growth and to keep the bushes productive.