Planting Blueberry Bushes – Spring Time Is The Right Time!

When it comes to planting blueberry bushes, Spring time really is the right time for planting!

Blueberries are an excellent crop for the home gardener who wants to grow a little fresh fruit. Not only are they delicious on top of cereal, or in pies and muffins, but they are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

Planting blueberry bushes
One great reason for planting blueberry bushes – fresh blueberry muffins!

In today’s garden tip, Indiana gardener Ronnie Davis shares his tips for successfully planting blueberry bushes, and how he keeps his producing year after year.

There are three types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush and half-high, which is a mixture of the two. The lowbush and half-high work well in cooler climates where winter hardiness is an issue. The larger-sized highbush is better suited can be grown usually in zones 4 through 8 depending on the variety.

Blueberry bushes can provide a steady crop of fruit for 20 years or more, and make an excellent choice for backyard gardeners who might not otherwise have the space to grow large fruit trees.

Let’s take a look at Ronnie’s advice on planting and maintaining blueberries:

Planting Blueberry Bushes

Ronnie Davis, Carmel, Indiana

Growing Zone 6

Blueberries are simply one of my favorite fruits of all. I live just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, and planted my first blueberry bushes about 13 years ago when my wife and I moved to our new home in the country. I have been hooked ever since!

planting blueberry bushes
Jersey Blueberries

There is simply no comparison to home-grown fresh blueberries. The ones you find in the store are dull and tasteless compared to the juicy ones I pick from our bushes in the backyard. They make the absolute best muffins and cobbler in the world!

Planting Blueberry Bushes – I grow northern hardy highbush varieties here. Our winters can get cold, but my Jersey and Blue Ray varieties have done really well. They are both nice because I can keep them pruned to about 3′ to 4′ high and wide.  They are quite easy to manage.

Blueberries grow well in soil that is higher in acid, so I like to fill my planting holes with a pail of pine needles mixed in the soil. I also mix in quite a bit of compost to the holes as well. I always dig the hole a good 6 inches bigger and deeper than the root ball.

Before filling the hole back in, I flood the hole with water to make sure the roots of the bushes are soaked well. I finish by mulching about 12″ around the plant with another few inches of pine needles. It keeps out the weeds and helps to give a little acid to the soil over time. You can also use wood chips to mulch, but I like using the pine needles.

The first year after planting blueberry bushes, you will want to be sure to water it at least every week or so if it hasn’t been raining. Once they become established, they do really well, but that first year it is important to keep them watered so the roots begin to spread out.

Protecting The Blueberries From The Birds

planting blueberry bushes
Pine needles are a great mulch for blueberries

Unfortunately, birds love blueberries as much as we do. They can wipe out a crop quickly if not protected. Once my bushes have begun to set fruit, I use bird netting to cover and protect them. I cover mine as soon as the berries have formed, and well before they are ripe. The birds seem to attack mine even they turn blue.

I use a couple of u-shaped wires place in the ground on each end to keep the nets secure. It also makes it easy to remove them when it is time to pick.

Pruning and Fertilizing

We prune our bushes back each year in late winter, usually in January or February. I trim out the old wood and clear out the branches that are touching the ground. I usually add a bit of 10-10-10 basic fertilizer to the soil in late summer after they are at the end of producing. Other than that, I simply sit back and enjoy the fruit!

Product Links :  Blue Ray and Jersey Blueberry Bushes

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