Tips for Planting Blueberries

Time for planting blueberries?

If so, it’s important to follow a few specific tips for planting blueberry bushes.

Get your blueberries off to a good start by knowing how to plant blueberries properly.

If you’ve chosen the correct types of blueberries for your area, and you’ve properly prepared your soil for blueberries, then you’ve already done most of the hard work.

And you’ve laid an excellent foundation for success.

Just follow these blueberry planting tips, and you’ll be off to a great start.

healthy, productive blueberry bushesTake care to plant your blueberries properly, and they'll be productive for many years

When to Plant Blueberries

The very best time for planting blueberry bushes is during the winter, when they are dormant. Planting in the late winter just before springtime growth resumes would be ideal.

You could probably plant most any time of the year and get away with it, but I’d recommend not planting during the hottest months of summer and early fall. 

How to Plant Blueberries 

Here's some step-by-step guidance for planting your blueberry bushes:

Dig the planting hole deeper and wider than the root ball of your plant (this should be in soil that has been prepared properly).

Shake most of the soil off the root ball, and spread out the roots of the plant. If the plant has been grown in a container and has a very tight root ball, don’t hesitate to work your fingers into the root ball from the bottom and pull outward to spread the roots out. If necessary, you can even make a few vertical scoring cuts on the outside of the root ball with a knife to help break it apart.

It may sound brutal, but getting the root ball spread apart will encourage the roots to spread out as they grow. If you just place the plant in the ground with the root ball still in a tight clump, the roots will tend to stay that way and will seriously impede the progress of the plant. NOTE: You don’t want to tear the roots off the plant, of course. Be as gentle as you can. But do what it takes to get the clump of the root ball spread out.

Backfill enough soil into the hole so that you can place the plant in the hole (with the roots spread out), and have it just barely deeper than it was originally growing. (If you’re transplanting blueberry bushes that were dug as bare root plants, you’ll be able to see where the stem emerged from the ground before it was dug. If you’re planting container plants, then the top of the root ball will be your reference for setting the depth.)

One of the worst mistakes you can make in planting blueberries (along with most trees and shrubs) is to set the plants too deep. You want the top of the root ball to be covered, but only just.

Thoroughly water in the plant (even if you’re planting in the dead of winter).

If you want maximum growth from your plant, prune off roughly 1/3 of the height of the plant. Also prune off any twiggy low growth. This will remove the majority of the flower buds from the plant, and when springtime arrives, you can remove any remaining flower buds that you notice.

Doing so will obviously mean that your plant will produce no fruit the first season, but it wouldn’t have produced much anyway. By relieving the little plant of the burden of producing fruit, more energy will go into the growth and establishment of the plant. And that will result in more fruit production next year (delayed gratification!).

Mulching Will Help

Maintaining a layer of mulch around your plant of around 4 to 6 inches in depth will offer many benefits. The mulch will help to conserve moisture and reduce weed pressure, and will help to keep the root zone cooler during the heat of the summer.

Over time, mulching your blueberries will also help to maintain a high level of organic matter in your soil – something that blueberries really like.

The ideal mulch for blueberries is an acidic material such as pine bark or pine sawdust. 

Planting Blueberries is Fun!

Whether you’re planting one or many, selecting your plants, preparing your soil, and then getting your little blueberry plant(s) settled in their new home is an enjoyable process. Especially when you consider that your blueberries will potentially live for decades, supplying you all the while with aesthetic beauty and delicious bounty.

You might even think of the planting process as an opportunity to ‘get acquainted’ with a new friend that you’ll be enjoying for a long, long time. So if you want to have a nice chat with your little friend as you’re getting it settled in its new home, go right ahead.

You won’t be the only person that talks to plants, you know! 

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