Blueberries are a popular and healthy fruit good for snacking and baking. The plants grow well in cool areas where the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees below zero F, which makes Oregon very well-suited for the berries. There are many varieties of blueberries, the most popular of which in Oregon is the northern highbush blueberry. The bushes can grow to a height of 9 feet, and in addition to their fruit yield, they add a nice touch of color to a home garden or landscaped bed. One possible drawback to growing blueberries is that it can take three or four years to get a large harvest, although a small amount of berries will be produced in the plant's early years.
Planting Blueberry Bushes
Prepare the area where the blueberry bushes will be planted by removing any weeds and other vegetation. This is best done the fall before you will be planting.
Dig a hole to accommodate the plant's root structure. It's important that the bush be planted no more than three-quarters of an inch deeper than it was planted at the nursery. If you are unsure of the depth, check with a gardener at the nursery where you purchased it. In Oregon, blueberries are most commonly planted in March or April, but they can also be planted in October.
Replace the dirt around the plant, using your feet or hands to tamp down the area so no air pockets are left in the soil.
Water the bush thoroughly, but be careful not to over-water it.
Prune the branches by about 30 to 40 percent to allow new growth. Try to remove the older wood and branches, allowing the younger shoots to grow quickly after planting.
Remove flower buds from the bush the first season so it will not produce fruit until its second year, when it has matured and is better established.
Add 2 to 3 inches of sawdust mulch around the plant to help it retain moisture.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning tools
- Blueberry bushes grow best in a sunny location with well-drained soil. If your soil does not drain well, consider building raised beds.
- Acidic soils with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 are most suitable for blueberry plants.
- If you are planting multiple plants, space them 6 feet apart. Rows should be spaced 8 to 10 feet apart.
- Keep an area of about 4 feet in circumference around the plants free of weeds.
- Blueberries need about 1 inch of water each week, so during dry spells be sure to water the plants to ensure a good harvest.
- The blueberry harvest in Oregon runs from June to September. Berries are best when harvested a few days after they turn completely blue. This allows them to fully ripen, which adds to the flavor.
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