Blueberry bushes are a perennial that are a great way to add foliage to your yard without wasting valuable vegetable and fruit gardening space. They produce attractive green foliage during the winter and produce giant blue berries during the fall and summer months. A single blueberry bush can yield over 20 pounds of berries each season when properly cared for. You do need to have 2 different species because they have to cross pollinate each other in order for the berries to produce. There are 3 types of blueberry bushes: low bush, high bush and hybrid bush and each of these have different species of blueberries that you can buy. When 3 or more species are planted next to each other you will have a longer harvest. However, planting blueberries in your yard does require a few tricks to be successful.
Blueberries are extremely picky about soil conditions. They require an acidic soil that is well fertilized with organic matter and it must be well draining. Good organic matter includes peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. Fertilizing is done during the early spring and again late spring but if the plant is new you need to wait 4 weeks before you fertilize it. When purchasing fertilizer, look for kinds that have ammonium sulfate and potassium sulfate on the bottle. Fertilizer should be ½ cup of 10-10-10 per plant.
When planting new plants wait until early spring or fall, plant early morning, add plant food to the hole before planting, place plant into hole, cover with soil and immediately water. Place blueberry bushes 2 to 3 feet apart, alternating species so there’s a different species on each side of the middle plant. Dig holes that are at least 20 inches deep and width of the hole should be two times the size of the root ball. It’s important to note that the older the plant is the faster it’s going to start producing. Blueberry bushes younger than 3 years old are going to take a year before they begin to produce.
Mulch blueberry plants to keep moisture in, using a thick covering of straw or wood chips that is 2 to 4 inches deep. When berries start to become ripe you might see an increase in bird activity on your property. To protect berries from being eaten, cover the bushes with a netting material.
Wait until blueberry bushes are 3 to 4 years old before you prune them. Once they are old enough you’d want to prune them differently depending on what kind they are. High bush need to be pruned by removing wood that is 6 years or older, that is drooping towards the ground or taking up center space. Low bush require all stems around the base to be pruned back.
Pests, insects and disease can be controlled by netting when the berries are about to be ripe so birds and other animals don’t eat them. Insects require an insecticide, preferably an organic natural one. Diseases can be treated with a fungicide. Blueberries are known for getting powdery mildew which can be easily treated by removing the affected parts or spray down with a fungicide. Blueberry maggot is a common insect for blueberry bushes that needs to be treated at the first site of them.
As you can see, growing blueberry bushes is not complicated when you understand what you need to do to plant and maintain them. I hope you’ll give it a try!