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How to Grow Sunshine Blue Blueberries

Sunshine Blue blueberry bushes (Vaccinium "Sunshine Blue") produce an abundance of flavorful berries during late summer and make an attractive ornamental planting. The bush's new spring foliage is pale blue, eventually changing to a frosty gray-blue color as the leaves mature. Deep pink blooms appear in spring and fade to white before being replaced by fruit. The foliage turns crimson when cool temperatures arrive in fall. Sunshine Blue blueberries do well in full or partial sun and rich acidic soil with good drainage. They are winter-hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 5 through 10.

Prepare the soil in fall by spreading 4 to 6 inches of organic compost over the chosen site.

Loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, using a rototiller. Do this in the fall, right after applying the compost.

Add Sunshine Blue blueberry bushes to the garden during late winter or early spring. Plant them at the depth they were originally growing, and water deeply. Leave a distance of 4 to 5 feet between the bushes.

Layer 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch over the soil beneath the bushes at the time of planting. Don't allow the mulch to rest against the stem of the bush.

Trim off two-thirds of the top growth if the bushes were purchased as bare root plants and one-half of the growth if they were growing in containers. Avoid making cuts to the bottom branches, as this could lead to disease.

Feed in late spring of the first planting year with azalea fertilizer. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of the fertilizer in a circle around each plant, approximately 1 foot from the stem.

Feed in spring and summer during the second growing season by applying 2 tbsp. of azalea fertilizer to each plant. Broadcast the fertilizer in a circle approximately 18 inches from each bush.

Apply 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer each spring once the bushes begin to produce fruit. Apply the fertilizer approximately 3 feet away from each plant.

Prune in late winter or early spring to eliminate spindly growth. Leave only the largest stems in place so that the plant's energy will be directed toward fruit production instead of foliage growth.

Examine Sunshine Blue blueberry bushes regularly for symptoms of disease or insect problems. These may include dropped or discolored leaves and damaged foliage. Call your local extension office for help with diagnosis and treatment suggestions.

Spread cloth netting over the bushes in summer if birds begin to feed upon the fruit.

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