A lot of preparation goes into the plating of blueberry bushes. Whether you’re dealing with highbush or rabbiteye, blueberries are pretty picky about the type of soil and conditions they’re planted in. Having the right soil consistency, pH, sunlight, and water drainage are all important factors when starting your bushes. In fact, you should start prepping the soil months before you’re ready to plant them.
Obtaining the proper pH
Blueberry bushes like to grow in slightly sandy and acidic soils. The optimal pH for blueberries to grow at is 4.8 which is slightly lower than neutral. You can buy a pH meter through Amazon.com or any local home improvement store. To achieve this low pH, we’re going to be using wettable sulfur. You should follow the directions on the bag, but typically 2.5 cups per 100sq feet will take the pH down by one. The wettable sulfur should be applied about 3 months prior to the planting of your bushes. You should again check the pH of your soil right before you plant to make sure it’s in a proper range.
Where to plant
Blueberries won’t succeed unless they’re in an area with proper drainage. To figure out how fast water will drain from the soil, dig a hole that is 6-8” deep. After a heavy rainfall, there should be no water in the hole after about one day. If there’s still a small amount of water, it will start to drown your plants.
The bushes should be in an area with maximum sunlight exposure. They technically only need a half day’s sunlight to succeed, but for maximum yields a full day is highly recommended.
Digging the hole
You’re going to want to dig the hole as deep as it was in the nursery. This assumes that you’re going to cover the top layer with mulch. If you’re not using mulch, dig a little deeper than you normally would because the sole will settle. Gently pat down the dirt around the plant.
If you’re planting more than one, spacing is important. Blueberry bushes need quite a bit of room to develop properly. If you have multiple rows, each row should be 8 feet apart. Each plant in the row should be approximately 4 feet away from the next.
When to plant?
Unlike most plants, blueberries should be planted in late winter. It’s common to plant them in early March or even February depending on where you live. As long as the soil isn’t still hard from winter, you can start planting. All species of blueberries can survive up to 10 degrees F and some varieties even colder than that.