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How to Grow Blueberries

A guide to growing Blueberry Bushes in gardens, allotments and containers

Blueberries

Family/Latin Name

Ericaceae - Vaccinium (Highbush)

Type of Plant

Hardy Deciduous Scrub

Suitable for

Gardens, Allotments, Large Containers

Recommended Tree Forms Bush
                  Jump to:-     Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 

 

Growing Blueberries - Details

See also:-  Fruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  | Buying Plants

 

Site and Soil

Prefer full sun out of strong winds
Prefer well drained slightly  acid soils
Suitable for large tubs and containers

Plant Dimensions

Height: up to 1.8m/6ft  - Spread: up to 1.5m/5ft

Yield

Mature bushes will give +4.5kg/10lb of fruit per year

Time between planting  and harvesting

 2-year-old plants: Produce the season after planting

Planting Time

Late October to March (soil conditions permitting)

Number of plants needed for pollination 1
How to plant - Open ground Space bushes 1.5m/5ft apart on all sides mulch with a layer of acid peat or bark after planting.
How to plant - in containers Container size minimum 75cm/2½ft wide x 60cm/2ft deep.

Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the bush)  5cm/2" below the top of the container.

Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost within  5cm/2" of the top of the container. Firm well and water in.

  Aftercare Open Ground - Every year in January apply a 5cm/2" acid peat or bark mulch to the surface of the soil surrounding the bush to a radius of at least 30cm/12" and apply an acid based fertiliser yearly  in early March. Water when necessary.
Containers -  After the first season of fruiting, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost every year in January. Do this very carefully so as not to damage the roots. water when necessary.
General - Protect from birds with netting. Once the fruit begin to swell, keep well watered, watering the base of the plants only to avoid the risk of fungal diseases.
  Harvesting Fruit for eating are best left to completely ripen on the tree. Harvesting takes place between  July and August depending on the cultivar.  Once the berries turn very dark blue, leave for a few more days before harvesting. Pick individual berries as and when they ripen.
  Propagation Cuttings can be taken in very early spring or in early July. Cut sections of stems 20cm/8" long, remove flower buds and/or most leaves only leaving the top 3 or 4 leaves if present, then  insert the bottoms into pots containing a sandy compost. Place in a warm shaded place in a greenhouse, frame or propagator where they should root within 8 weeks. Gradually harden off before potting on into larger containers. grow on for 1 year before planting in their permanent positions.

How to Prune Blueberry Bushes

Blueberries fruit  is best on 2 and 3 year wood, so the aim is to encourage some new growth to be produced every year for fruiting in the 2 years time.  Do not prune  in the first 3 years after planting.  In the fourth and subsequent years, in early March prune the bush by one quarter,  cutting out the oldest and unproductive wood, weak growths an very low hanging branches.

 

Blueberry Pests & Diseases

Pests Diseases
Birds - like to eat the berries which can decimate the crop. Protect  with netting, cotton or cages.

Aphids can cause leaves to curl. There are chemicals available to combat aphids which can be bought at garden centres. Organic methods include spraying with diluted washing up liquid ( 1 teasp per 2 litres of water), companion planting of flowers such as marigolds nearby.
Grey Mould (Botrytis) - Causes stems to die-back  Cut out dead wood back into living tissue. Avoid damp or humid conditions and if the bush is congested with too much leafy growth, prune to permit air to circulate.

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