How to Plant Blueberry Bushes in the Fall
Blueberry bushes are one of the easiest fruit bearing bushes to grow. Blueberries are high in vitamin C and full of antioxidants, making them very good for you. They don’t take up much room and anyone with a yard in gardening zones 4 through 9 can grow their own bushes. There are several varieties of blueberries for colder climates called highbush blueberries. They will withstand temperate lower temperatures, but late spring frosts can still kill young buds and some stems of the plant.
Do a soil test to make sure your soil is acidic enough to grow blueberries. You can purchase soil tests at the local nursery and the soil should have a PH between 3.5 and 5.2. If it is too high, you can use fertilizers and amendments to bring it down. If it is up around 7.0, you may want to consider building a raised bed for the bushes using a high acidic soil.
Amend the soil to bring the pH down by adding peat moss and composted manure. You can add other organic compost to help with drainage also. Adding some straw or pine needles will help with acidity and keep the soil loose and airy.
Purchase 2- to 3-year old plants from a local nursery. They will start producing berries during your first growing season and are much stronger than younger plants.
Dig the hole twice diameter and a 3 or 4 inches deeper than the root ball. Add some of the amended soil and place the plant into the hole. Spread the roots gently and fill in around them with the amended soil. Press down firmly to ensure the plant will stand up.
Water the plants thoroughly when first planted. The bushes will need watering for long periods of time once a week. This will ensure the roots have plenty of water without standing in it for very long, which can cause root rot. Increase water to twice a week in the spring and throughout the growing season.
Mulch around the plants with pine needles or shredded oak leaf mulch. This will add to the acidity of the soil while helping to keep in moisture and keep down weeds. Blueberries do not compete with weeds or grass well, so keep them a few feet from the trunk of the plant.
Fertilize the plants with an acidic fertilizer in the spring when you first notice the buds swelling. Repeat once during the growing season and again at the end of the summer. Follow manufacturer’s directions on how to apply and how much fertilizer to use according to how many bushes you have and your soil's pH value.
In early spring prune off any dead or diseased wood. If the bush is getting very full, you should also prune some of the branches from the inside to allow for air circulation.