for a successful blueberry harvest is an acidic soil. (See
/ Soil Preparation:
Blueberries grow best on a sunny site in sandy peat soil, but will also
do well in heavy soils so long as there is good aeration and drainage, high organic
matter content (Organic matter increases the water-holding capacity and
improves the aeration of soils) , and adequate moisture, applying a
heavy mulch will help with water retention, weed control, and the
overall health of the plant. Wood chips, leaves, or any natural
organic matter will suffice
on heavy soils that drain slowly... During the growing season, water
standing on the surface for one or two days can damage roots.
Irrigation prior to and after planting should be applied to
ensure seed germination and emergence Drip
irrigation provides the plants with a more uniform application
of water, placing it near the root zone and using less water.
Drip irrigation also minimizes the amount of foliage and fruit
disease compared with overhead irrigation . Drip Irrigation does not interfere with
honeybees and subsequent pollination and fertilization.
For best results, blueberries need a growing season of
days Even when low winter temperatures kill the tops of plants, the
crown and roots are protected by the snow cover and they put out
new shoots that bear fruit the following year. Where deep
snows prevail, much of the bush is protected from extreme low
temperatures; heavy snows, however, can cause damage.
An early fall frost sometimes kills back late-growing shoots from the
tip, but in most cases this injury can be pruned away. A late spring
frost, on the other hand, can injure partly opened flowers, causing a
partial to total crop loss on some early-flowering cultivars. These
early cultivars are not recommended for areas that typically receive
late spring frosts.
All Righty then ... So you've Selected a good site for your
blueberries, Tested the soil, picked out the bushes that best suit
your needs, now your ready to plant......
It is beneficial to soak the roots for several hours before
Dig a hole 18-20 inches deep X 18-20 inches wide
Mix 1 cubic foot of
peat moss with top soil until the hole is
filled 4 inches from the top.
Set the plant and cover the roots with the remaining peat-soil
mix. In heavy soils, an equal amount of peat can be mixed with an
equal amount of soil.
Set the plants 5 feet apart rows 10 feet apart. (You
may have to make some adjustments depending upon the variety you are
Apply 3-5 inches of mulch in a 2 feet wide circle after
planting, This circle should be maintained over the life of the
Prune them to approximately 2/3 of their original size.
Remove any flowers/ Berry buds
the first year to divert energy and nutrients to foliage. This may be a difficult thing to do , knowing that those
flowers will yield the delicious blueberries that you crave, but it is
necessary to ensure an abundant crop and healthy plants in the coming
Do not use fertilizer the first year
plants ,the roots are very sensitive at this time.
Early spring of the second year,
before flowering, apply 4 ounces of
ammonium sulfate to each plant.
Cultivate until early July to help control weeds and prevent
disease. To avoid root damage, do not cultivate deeper than 2". Cultivation after July increase susceptibility to winter
injury; use mulch to conserve moisture and control weeds at this
point. Wood chips, grass clippings or leaves make an excellent mulch.
Generally, blueberry bushes require little
fertilizing and are sensitive to excesses. Because of
their unusual nutrition requirements, many fertilization practices
common to tree fruit production are not appropriate for blueberries.
Blueberries are distinct among fruit crops in their soil and
fertility requirements. They require an acidic (low pH) soil,
preferably in the 4.8 to 5.5 pH range. When soil pH is appreciably
higher than 5.5,
iron chlorosis often results; when soil pH drops below 4.8, the
manganese toxicity arises.
Do not use
Fertilizers containing chlorides or nitrates
they harm blueberry roots.
Do not use fertilizer the year
plants are set
because roots are very sensitive at this time.
Do not apply any
fertilizer at transplanting.
not Fertilize after flowering as it enhances susceptibility to winter
In early spring of the second year,
before flowering, apply 3-4 ounces of
Ammonium Sulfate to each plant.
In March , May and
July apply 3 ounces of MIRACLE-GRO ACID LOVING PLANT FOOD
or 1 ounce of 12-4-8 or 10-10-10 per plant.
Spread the fertilizer
evenly over a circle 18 - 24 inches in diameter with the plant in the center.
In March and July of
the second year apply 3 - 4 ounces of MIRACLE-GRO ACID LOVING PLANT FOOD
(4-8-8). Never over-fertilize; fertilizer damages blueberries easily until they
are established. Spread the fertilizer evenly over a circle 18- 24 inches in
diameter with the plant in the center.
From the third season on, base the amount of fertilizer applied on the
size of the bushes.
If your soil tests high for phosphorus, use 12-4-8.
If your soil tests low
or medium in phosphorus, use 10-10-10.
Common Blueberry Varieties
Selecting appropriate varieties is not a simple matter. Many growers are limited by
climate to only the hardiest. Although most blueberries are
self-pollinating, planting at least two different varieties improves
size and increases the percentage of successful pollination.
Zone Map will help to determine what varieties are best for your area.
There are 4 basic
types of Blueberries to choose from, which can be further
broken down into a multitude of varieties
Rabbit eye blueberries grow to 15 feet tall,
Generally Hardy up to
The flowers have both male and
female organs and are pollinated by Insects.
Rabbit-eye varieties require
another rabbit-eye variety for cross pollination
High Bush blueberries grow 6 to 12 feet tall
Bush blueberries grow 1 to 2 feet tall
Mid High blueberries grow 2 to 4 feet tall.
The following are my personal favorites, you of course may prefer to scan
any of the many online
nurseries and seed catalogs.
Highbush Blueberry Southern Varieties
Best Blueberries to Grow South of Virginia!
This collection of top-quality hybrids is specially-selected for success
in the south.
Top Hat Dwarf Blueberry Plant - Bonsai/Patio/Outdoors
TOP HAT BLUEBERRY PERFECT FOR SMALL SPACES, CONTAINERS AND
BONSAI. FULL SIZE FRUIT ON DWARF PLANTS! Compact shrub that is
ideal for containers and small spaces.
Highbush Blueberry Northern Varieties
Best Blueberries to Grow North of the Carolinas! This
collection of top-quality hybrids is specially-selected for success in
the north. This collection of top-quality Blueberry hybrids was selected
for hardiness, fruit quality, drought tolerance
Hotel Giant Blueberries
Some growers boast berries as big as quarters .The flavor of
Blueray is excellent, as sweet and juicy as a plum, compact bushy plants
often start producing a year after planting. .
Birds are one of the most
common pests in any Berry crop. Birds keep the insect
population in control., and lend a pleasant musical backdrop to
spring and summer days. However when I see them picking my
fruit and berry trees clean, .... the friendship is over.
It would be easy pick them off as they enter my domain,
but the local authorities and the ASPCA might have something to say about that. There are a number of
deterrents to birds , the most effective, I find, being
See :Bird Deterrents
Leafrollers the larvae
or caterpillars of several species of small moths. The name "leafroller"
is derived from their habit of rolling leaves for shelter. Early in
the growing season, these brown or green worms tie together blossoms
and feed on them. When full grown (1/2 to ¾ inch long), the larvae
seal up the leaf. [Image]
Aphids: Generally, aphids are
green and are less mobile than leafhoppers. They feed on the
undersides of the youngest leaves and on tender shoots [Image].
Aphids reproduce very rapidly and can literally cover stems and
leaves. The sap loss is a concern when the plants are young— the
first three years. Most aphids can be controlled by
ladybugs and other natural enemies. [Insecticides kill these
natural enemies along with the pests.] Aphids also transmit
blueberry shoestring virus, as well as other pathogens.
Blueberry Maggot: The adults are small flies [Image]
-about 3/16 inch long- with dark patterns across their wings. These
flies lay eggs in the fruit. Each egg hatches into a small white
larva, called a maggot [Image],
which feeds on the inside of the fruit. After the infested fruit
falls to the ground in the fall, the maggot enters the soil, pupates
and overwinters. The adult flies leave the soil the next year.
Infested fruit is not harmful to eat but has less
Sharpshooter Natural Insecticide
- Citric acid destroys the wax coating of the insect's respiratory system.
When applied directly, the insect suffocates. Sharpshooter is biodegradable.Effective on most insects including aphids,
beetles, caterpillars, cutworms, earwigs, flies, gnats...
Hot Pepper Wax
repels bugs. 100% natural spray
uses pepper extract and wax to effectively discourage pests.
for more extensive data
Diseases of Blueberry Plants
Compendium of Blueberry and Cranberry Diseases (Disease Compendium Series of the American Phytopathological)
Mummy berry is a fungal disease of major importance
,it causes considerable damage to blueberries. Severe blighting of
the leaves, shoots, and flower buds some cultivars are more
The anthracnose fungus causes dark
brown, oval sunken areas or spots on stems. It also causes the crown
to rot, which causes young leaves to wilt. The fungus can be
carried on apparently healthy plants. Therefore, be sure
to use healthy certified plants for transplanting. Avoiding
excess moisture during the summer will help decrease the
severity of this disease. In the spring, look for orange spore
masses on last year’s fruiting stems. Look for blighted shoot tips
and flowers turning black or brown. When fruit are beginning to
ripen, look for sunken, shriveled berries. Riper fruit may show the
orange spores. Anthracnose cannot be controlled adequately
by fungicides. [Image]
A fungal disease, a/k/a gray
mold, infects leaves,
stems, flowers, and bulbs of many plants. It
infects dead or dying tissues first, and then spreads to living
tissues. Lesions are brown to gray circular spots that later become
fuzzy, producing gray masses of fungal spores. Cool, damp weather
favors the development and spread of this disease. [Image]
Control: Avoid crowding plants and overhead watering
, drip systems
are preferable. Prune away and
discard diseased tissue. Maintain healthy plants by locating
them properly, fertilize at the right time of year
with the proper nutrients, and keep a 2-3-inch
layer of mulch around the base of the plants.
A Fungus which causes rapid wilt with browning or reddening of
leaves on individual branches, often followed by death of the entire
plant as the fungus spreads to the plant base. Most
infections can be traced to a wound as the initial point of
infection. Cold injury has also been observed to cause cracking in
the forks of blueberry stems, leaving plants susceptible to early
During mid-summer foliage is covered by a
web-like fungus growth called mycelium. As a result, leaves become
puckered . In late summer, circular reddish-brown spots 1/8 to 1/4
inch in diameter appear on the top and underside of the leaves.
Conidiophores grow from the mycelium and spread the disease
throughout the field. During the late summer and autumn, small round
black fruiting bodies [cleistothecia] 1/32 to1/16 inch in diameter
develop on the surface of the fungal growth on the leaves. The
cleistothecia are a means of over wintering by the fungus. All
cultivars are susceptible to powdery mildew. Jersey cultivar is the
most susceptible. [Image]
Blueberry shoestring Virus
, a disease that is a serious
problem for commercial planters and
home growers. Remove any plants exhibiting bright red streaks or strap
like leaves . If blueberry shoesting virus
is observed in a planting, aphid control with
or Sevin should
be carried out ASAP.
Michigan University : Blueberry Shoestring Virus
Plant Viruses Online :Blueberry shoestring sobemovirus
Michigan State University - Blueberry Diseases
University of Connecticut - Blueberry Disease management
Blueberry Pest Management - Seasonal Overview
Two to four years after planting, blueberries will produce
fruit. This will be a HUGE test of your patience, don't pick
them as soon as they turn blue. Let them hang on the
branches a few more days to develop their full sweetness and aroma, this
may attract birds who've been waiting patiently ...
take evasive measures (See
Up to 5 pickings may be required to harvest the berries.
Pick only the ripe ones. A reddish tinge means the berry isn't ripe
Helping blueberries survive through winter conditions it not just an
issue in the fall, but relates to gardening practices carried out
The nutrient status of the plant affects it resistance to the cold .
If the plant is deficient in phosphorus or zinc, winter injury
is more likely. If plants have too much nitrogen or potassium in
their tissues, they will not harden properly, - winter injury can occur.
Following proper fertilization practices is vital. Late
fertilization can delay the hardening process.
Proper pruning allows plants to receive more light, allowing for more
An important Autumn practice is mulching.
) Mulch prevents soil heaving in newly planted blueberries. However,
don't apply mulch too early. Wait until low temperatures have been
consistently "Cold " for at least 3 nights. If
possible, it's best to mulch just before the snow season sets in.
Horticultural Oil Spray