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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

  • Fall salad crops can be difficult to start because garden soil is often very warm when seeds need to be planted. To trick the internal mechanism that allows seeds to germinate in warm ground, freeze them for a week or two.
    Or start seeds indoors in flats where it’s cool, and transplant seedlings into the garden immediately after germination. Be sure to include winter or cold-hardy lettuce varieties when planting. They will take temperatures down into the 20s with little or no protection. ‘Little Caesar’, Buttercrunch’ lettuces, ‘Frizz E’endive and ‘Baby’s Leaf Hybrid’ spinach are good choices. When the thermometer dips below freezing, lay an old bed sheet or floating row cover directly over the lettuce, endive and spinach for protection.