GETTING READY: PLANTING AND GROWING BLUEBERRY PLANTS
Have you ever dreamed of waking up in the morning, wandering out to your own backyard, and plucking the sweetest, fresh blueberries right off your own shrubs? Purely delightful, isn’t it? Not only are blueberries packed with nutrients, but they also offer us a literal taste of independence and fulfillment. I’m excited to share this journey with you as we delve into the fascinating art of planting and growing blueberry plants!
Choosing Blueberry Plants
If you’ve decided to join the blueberry gardening club, kudos! But before you make your purchase, let’s first understand the three main types of blueberries to choose from:
- High-bush blueberries: Growing anywhere from 6 to 12 feet tall, these plants are most commonly grown in the northern parts of the U.S.
- Low-bush blueberries: These range from 1 to 2 feet tall and are native to the northeastern areas of North America. They are much more cold-tolerant compared to high-bush blueberries.
- Rabbiteye blueberries: Native to the southern U.S., these plants grow up to 10 feet high and are heat-tolerant, perfect for the warmer climates.
Your choice ultimately comes down to your climate and available space.
Your First Purchase
Whether you start with bare-root or potted plants, ensure your blueberry bush is well-budded and healthy. It’s advisable to plant more than one variety for cross-pollination, which can significantly increase your fruit yield.
Planting Blueberry Plants
Ready to get your hands dirty? Awesome! Here’s a step-by-step guide for planting your blueberry bush.
Step 1: Site Selection
Blueberry plants need full sun and well-drained soil. Avoid planting near trees that can not only steal sunlight but also suck up all the nutrients and water your blueberries need.
Step 2: Soil Preparation
Blueberries prefer acidic soil with a pH range of 4.5 to 5.5. You can use an inexpensive soil pH tester to ensure your soil isn’t too alkaline. If needed, mix sulfur into the soil a few weeks before planting.
Step 3: Digging the Hole
The hole should be about twenty inches deep and twice as wide as the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil once placed in the hole.
Step 4: Planting the Bush
Add some compost into the hole, place the plant in, and cover with soil, pressing lightly. Water your new plant fully and mulch around the base to conserve moisture.
Blueberry Plant Care
Blueberries need frequent watering, especially when establishing new plants. However, avoid overwatering as it can cause root rot.
Most new plants won’t require immediate pruning. However, after a couple of years, prune during late winter or early spring, removing low growth, diseased, or weak wood. This helps to stimulate production.
You can fertilize your blueberries once in spring and once in late summer, with an organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
The exciting part! Your hard work will pay off usually within 2-3 years. The berries will ripen over a two- to five-week period. Harvest them once they’re fully blue, firm, and taste sweet.
Birds love blueberries as much as we do. Consider covering your plants with lightweight bird netting when the berries start to ripen.
My 2 Cents
Growing blueberry plants proves to be an exciting and rewarding activity, whether you’re a dedicated gardener or a survivalist looking to create a sustainable food source. Remember, blueberries are an investment plant. Give them the care they need, and they’ll reward you with buckets of delicious, organic berries for many years. Don’t forget to share them with friends, they will absolutely love your homegrown blueberries. Happy gardening!