Planting & Caring for Blueberries in the Home Garden
Besides growing blueberries for their wonderful taste, blueberries can be appreciated for their low maintenance requirements and their ability to endure cold temperatures. Blueberries can usually be grown without a need for pesticides or pest control. That is the case here in Tennessee.
Although it generally takes three to five years for a blueberry plant to generate a good yield, even the smallest of plants will produce some berries the first or second summer. Blueberry plants will reach a height of 10 to 12 feet when left unpruned.
If you planted blueberry bushes in the fall, the young bushes are already off to a great start, but spring isn’t too late to get those berry bushes in the ground. The ideal time frame to plant blueberries is when the plant is dormant, before the appearance of fruit, from autumn to early spring.
A few tips for blueberry growers:
· Select an elevated site to plant blueberries such as a hill. If one does not exist, plant blueberries in a raised bed.
· Blueberries need to be planted in a location that drains well.
· Test the soil before planting. Blueberries like an acidic soil with a pH range between 4.8 to 5.2.
· Space blueberry plants six feet apart.
· Plant at least two varieties for cross-pollination.
· Water the plant after planting and top the soil surrounding the plant with sawdust mulch.
· Remove all flower buds at time of planting to encourage strong root development.
· Weed early in the spring, before harvest season begins.
· Keep a 2 to 3 foot weed-free circle surrounding each blueberry bush. This has been proven to increase the yield of berries produced.
· Young blueberry plants can easily be damaged by weed-eaters. To protect tender plants, place a thick tree protector around the base of each plant.
With a little care, an established blueberry plant will produce berries for 20 to 30 years before needing to be replaced.