Growing blueberry shrubs involves careful attention to the pH balance of the garden soil. Once you succeed in creating the ideal growing medium, your blueberries will thrive and produce an abundant blueberry crop. If you find you have room for more blueberry bushes, the common practice is to root new plants from cuttings. Cut dormant shoots carefully from the parent blueberry plants and then prepare them for rooting.
Take cuttings from dormant blueberry plants in the early spring. Find hardwood shoots (growth from the previous year) that are a quarter-inch in diameter with leaf buds present. Cut 1- to 3-foot-long shoots from the parent plant just above the plant crown.
Cut the shoots into pieces between 4 and 6 inches in length. If the shoots have flower buds, slice these off smoothly with a sharp knife.
Use the utility knife to cut away 1-inch-long pieces of bark from the bottom of each cutting. Cut the bark away on two opposite sides to encourage the cutting to root beneath the soil.
Make or purchase a rooting structure and place the structure in a location that receives full sunlight. If you make a rooting structure yourself, use new wood and make it approximately 8 inches deep. For best results, your structure should have a source of heat along the bottom and a frame over the top made of plastic or glass.
Fill the rooting structure with a mixture of one part sphagnum moss and one part coarse concrete sand. Alternatively, mix one part peat moss and one part vermiculite.
Label the cuttings if you have several different cultivars. Insert each cutting vertically into the prepared soil 2 to 3 inches apart and so the buds are facing up out of the soil. Push the cuttings into the soil until they are approximately two-thirds under the soil. If you are using a heating pad beneath the soil, only insert the cuttings halfway. Firm the soil down gently with your hands.
Provide a generous watering for the cuttings one time per week. Strive to keep the soil evenly moist, but not saturated, with approximately 1 inch of water per week. After you see new growth, water twice per week.
Pull back the plastic or glass partially to increase the ventilation after you see new growth and the roots are growing.
Fertilize the cuttings one time per week after roots and foliage appear. Mix the fertilizer with water according to package recommendations.
Leave the cuttings to grow in the rooting structure throughout the summer, autumn and winter (replace the plastic or glass securely around the cuttings to insulate them from the cold). Transplant the cuttings the next spring, planting them in the soil with a spacing of approximately 1 foot between each plant.
Things You Will Need
- Parent blueberry plants
- Pruning shears
- Sharp utility knife
- Rooting structure (ready-made or self-constructed)
- Soil (sphagnum moss and concrete sand or peat moss and vermiculite)
- Water-soluble fertilizer (13-36-13)
- If you make your cuttings while the ground is still frozen, you will have to store the cuttings until you can place them into soil. Fill plastic bags with sphagnum moss and place the cuttings in the bags. Store the cuttings in the refrigerator for up to three months.
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