How to Grow Blueberry in Your Home Garden?

Blueberries are shrubs but lots of people just call them bushes and its ok. Growing blueberries requires less time and attention. They are woody plants and take two to three years to provide a good yield.

What do blueberry plants look like?

Blueberry plants look attractive that’s for sure. In case you have never seen one in real time, just check the picture below. Imagine having these shrubs in your garden, it would be grand wouldn’t it?

Blueberry plants

How to raise/grow blueberries?

The first question is “what time of the year do you plant blueberries?”

Blueberries are high chill plants and grow well in regions which have a colder climate predominantly. Atleast 400-1200 hours of below 44 degree F temperature would be required.

Growing blueberries bushes would require Acidic soil. Perform a soil test to determine if you soil is alkaline or acidic. If it is alkaline you can add sulphur to make it more acidic.

Tip: Check up with your local co-operative extension society regarding the feasibility of growing blueberries in your area.

Planting blueberry bushes

Fruits plant take a long time to mature. Buy saplings or grown plants from the dealer, instead of seeds. Use these tips while buying.

Check the plant carefully for any signs of weak health :The root system should be in a good condition and stem should be strong. There should be no rot or pest signs.

Confirm if the plant is “virus tested” or “certified : Ask the salesman if the blueberry plant is virus tested, always go for a hybrid variety which is resistant to common fungi and virus infections.

Go for quality instead of cost : Blueberries are landscape investments and so you should not bother about bargaining. Go for quality, you get what you pay for.

Buy from a reliable source :Word of mouth is reliable, so ask around. If you go in for online shopping, make sure you buy from specialists. Don’t buy from online sources who sell plants as a sideline.

Check for accurate labels :The label should not only contain the plant name, for ex: “northern blueberry”, but also the cultivar name or variety name ex: bluecorp, toro or jersey. This is a like a seal of authenticity.

Growing blueberries from cuttings

Blueberries can also be grown from cuttings. The process is however a little tedious and requires expert care. If you are casual gardener or a beginner, you are better off buying a sapling or a grown plant from the nursery.

Mostly the nursery vendor would give you a blueberry plant in a tin container. The other popular method is balled and burlapped plants which are field dug and placed inside a plastic or cloth bag.

Preparing the soil for growing blueberries

Blueberries require acidic soil and they hate water logging. Make sure the water drainage capacity of your soil is high.

Tips to improve water drainage capacity of soil

  • Dig in a lot of organic matter or compost into the soil
  • Make a raised garden bed
  • Avoid areas with clay soil
  • If you are stuck with clay soil, make sure you mix a lot of compost (at least 8 inches deep)
  • Water your plants at least three times a week ensuring that you don’t flood them with water

Tips to add fertilizers for growing blueberries

Fertilizers for blueberry

Blueberries, especially the hybrid varieties, are resistant to most infections. You don’t have to fertilize them much. Just use a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) three phases

  • While preparing the soil, before sowing seeds or planting saplings
  • A week after planting the saplings or after the seed germinates
  • During the fruit bearing phase

That should be sufficient.

Growing blueberry bushes for Health

what is the nutritional value of blueberries?

  • Blueberries are rich in Vitamin A,C and E
  • They are high in mineral like potassium and magnesium. Vital for disease protection and sharper brain. Blueberries are called brain food.
  • Very high in fiber content. If you are suffering from constipation, blueberries will work wonders
  • Blueberries are known to generate antioxidants in the body, they help prevent cell damage and are not to hinder the effect of carcinogens. Thus preventing cancer.

The high nutritional value of blueberries would make them one of the best health foods around. Add to it the spicy and aromatic taste, it is almost a too good to believe.

How to Go About Pruning Blueberries

Blueberry plants would require regular pruning once they acquire full growth. It is important for three reasons.

  • It helps the plant be more productive
  • Makes the plant look attractive
  • Keeps the plant healthy

If you have a large garden with several blueberry shrubs, it makes sense to hire a qualified help. In any case a neglected blueberry plant would be more trouble later, so make sure you care for it well.

Some general tips on how to prune blueberry bushes

  • Use clean tools while pruning, make sure you don’t infect the plants by using a soiled or rusted tool
  • Keep the tools sharp, you don’t want to end up mashing or crushing stems and branches
  • Use the appropriate tool. Use hand clipper for cutting tender canes and branches on the shrubs

When do I prune the blueberry bushes

Ripe blueberries

The when is as important as how. The thumb rule to follow with blueberries is to prune when the bush is dormant.

When the flowering is at a minimum and there are no buds, its is off season. This is the time to prune the bushes.

Another exercise would be to prune the canes of the blueberry shrubs once they have become old. Each cane would vegetate first, then it will grow fruits. Once a cane stops producing fruits it time to shear it off.

When you plant a new blueberry shrub in your garden, make sure you prune off most of the buds. This way energy would used to develop the root and branch system instead of flowering. Once the root and stems system is strong, you will have higher yields

Thin out the old braches after a couple of years. These branches would have lost their fruit producing capacity anyway. Pruning will make way for new shoots. Pruning blueberries is especially important to prevent a tangle, it becomes very difficult to manage a tangled shrub.

Warning: Some blueberry plants would produce fruits on canes which are one year old while the other would produce fruits on canes which are two year old. So be careful about which cane you prune off.

It is a good habit to mark the canes which have generated the fruits by tying a small piece of cloth around it.

Blueberry plant care

A few general tips on blueberry plant care through pruning are as below.

When planting a blueberry shrub prune away 1/2 of the top growth, leaving just a few upright shoots. Clip off all the buds. This would help is strong root growth.

It is important to ensure that fruits are not in touch with soil water. Blueberries have a tendency to rot under moisture conditions. Pruning would allow you to keep the fruits air conditioned.

Allow for a good gap between the various fruit bunches. Shear off any dead braches or leaves immediately; they have a tendency to infect fruits and the plant as a whole.

Spray water on the leaves of the blueberry plants to remove pests. Spraying also prevents spider mite webs to take hold.

Practice good sanitation by allowing elbow space between shrubs. Pruning can be employed to keep the plants within growing area. Never allow two shrubs to get entangled.

Propagation of blueberries

You can create new blueberry shrubs from the original one. The process requires you to a exercise patience and care. Find below the steps for the propagation of blueberries.

  • Cut off a 2-3 inch portion starting from the tip of a healthy stem.
  • Shear off all the leaves on this bit of stem leaving just a couple on top.
  • Prepare soil (having less pH) and some compost. Place it in a container.
  • Plant the shoot in this container. Place around 1 inch of the stem inside the soil.
  • Water regularly but in small qualities. Never allow any water logging.
  • Avoid using fertilizers.

Within a few weeks the cutting would take roots. When the first leaves start to emerge from the cutting, it is time to transplant it in the soil. Be careful while performing this operation. Make sure you don’t damage the tender roots.