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Blueberries Gardening Guide

IMPORTANT: Please note that your plants have been shipped bare root in a dormant state, and are not likely to be in leaf upon arrival. It is easier for plants to establish the vigorous root systems required for good growth when they are planted in cool weather in a dormant state.

Plant your blueberries as soon as possible after you receive them. If you cannot plant them right away, set the plants in their shipping wrappers in a cool, dark location. If the plants must be held longer than a few days, unwrap packing material, moisten roots thoroughly with warm water and rewrap. Roots must never dry out—keep them moist until they are covered with soil.

Blueberries can also be “heeled in” for several weeks or held over the winter by burying them in a shallow trench, leaving plant tops at about a 45° angle, until you can plant them in their permanent locations.

How to Plant Your Blueberry Plants

Blueberries thrive in a sunny to partially shaded location, and a well drained, very acidic soil, with a pH of 4.2-5.2. Prepare soil before planting. If your pH is higher, add iron sulfate according to package directions. Do not change the pH of your soil more than 1/2 of a point each year.

Plant at least two different varieties for cross pollination. Set plants 4-8 feet apart (3 feet apart for hedges).

Dig each hole twice the size of the root mass. Set the plant 2 inches deeper than it was growing in the nursery, keeping the crown above the soil level. Fill the hole with the soil mixture, firm around roots and water deeply. Mulch with 3-4 inches of compost or pine needles to retain moisture and inhibit weed growth.

General Care

Do not fertilize newly planted bushes until they have leafed out. Work 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 fertilizer into the top 3 inches of soil around each plant. Apply again 4-6 weeks later. After the first year, fertilize in spring as new growth begins, and again 4-6 weeks later. Apply fertilizer to the soil beneath each bush, keeping it 5-6 inches away from the main stem.

Blueberries are remarkably disease resistant. Cover bushes with netting as fruit ripens to deter birds. Pick fruit promptly to discourage insects. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area. Pruning Prune in late winter or early spring while the bushes are dormant. The first three years, remove small lateral shoots and thin out excessive bushy growth. After the third year, annually remove 1/4-1/3 of the old wood, any dead or injured branches, and those close to the ground. Remove flowers the first year to strengthen plants.

Read the next Article: Onions Gardening Guide

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • If the best looking melons in the garden had little or no flavor last summer, the problem may be the variety planted. Some melon types do better in a region than others and only trial and error or an experienced local gardener or county extension agent can guide you.

    Occasionally the problem is the soil. It may lack sufficient nutrients or the pH can be too low. Dig in compost or rotted manure before planting. Melons do best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Have your soil tested and if the pH is below 6.5, amend with lime. Sometimes a lot of rain near the time of harvest will dilute the sugar in melons affecting taste. Watermelons will regain their sugars if you hold off harvesting for a few days. Cantaloupes will not.