Growing blueberry bushes is fun, easy, and pays off in the end. I can my blueberries so I can enjoy their sweetness year round. For those who’re unsure about how to start your own garden, there are a few things you need to know. Pruning your bushes every year is needed in order to maintain not only looks, but a plentiful harvest. You should know when to plant them and in what conditions. An area without proper drainage and sunlight isn’t ideal for growing blueberries. However, the most important thing is when to harvest your crop when you’ve successfully grown them.
What species to grow?
Before doing anything, you have to decide which species you’re going to start with. Highbush grows great in coastal plain areas such as Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and much of the east coast. They can also survive cold winters which are why they’re great for other parts of the country as well. If you have exceedingly cold winters, you will need to grow some form of highbush. If you live in an area that’s warm and prone to drought I recommend growing rabbiteye. This species is good for warmer climates and will not survive winters that get lower than 10 degrees. Rabbiteye is also less picky about soil conditions so it might be easier for someone who doesn’t want to deal with pH and other factors right away.
Choosing a spot
Choosing a perfect spot is essential when growing blueberries. You want to pick a spot with good drainage. To test out a location beforehand, start by digging a 6-8” deep hole in the soil. 24 hours after a nice heavy rain, there should be no water in the hole you dug. If there is, your soil doesn’t have proper drainage and you should probably choose a new area in which to plant them.
Soil prep (pH)
After you’ve found the right spot to plant them, you have to prep the soil. If you’re growing rabbiteye the pH must be lower than 5.3 and 5.0 for highbush. Use a half pound wettable sulfur per 50 square feet of soil to lower the pH by one. For instance, 7.0 to 6.0. This should be done approximately 4 months prior to the actual planting of the bushes. You should check the pH again right before planting and add more sulfur as needed. If you for some reason are not able to check the pH before you begin, you should mix peat moss with sand and add that to the top of your soil before planting.
Like all plants, blueberry bushes require a lot of sunlight to grow to their full potential. They should be in an area where they get sunlight for a minimum of half of the day. However, a full day’s sun is always preferred.
Once you’ve successfully planted your bushes, you have to maintain them throughout the year. Pruning your bushes is needed to produce large yields and keep your bushes looking good. Pruning newer plants is more important because it shapes them for optimal yield for the rest of their life. However, once a proper shape is formed, a young plant will not need as much pruning as a mature plant.
If you just recently planted your blueberries, you shouldn’t fertilize them until their leave size has matured. Use 1 Tbs of azalea fertilizer and apply that in a one foot circle all the way around the plant. You can fertilize every six weeks until about mid-July. For plants in their second year, it’s pretty similar. Use twice the amount of fertilizer and increase your circle by six inches.