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Blueberry Bush Care

Keep your blueberry bush thriving this season! More information below in Ashcombe’s Care Sheet. Click here for more gardening care instructions.

Blueberries are a carefree crop once they are established in soil that is to their liking. They are related to the rhododendron, azalea and mountain laurel. Here are our growing recommendations, learned from years of growing successful commercial crops of these delicious berries:

SITE SELECTION: A well-drained site in full sun is ideal. Blueberries must have moist soil, but no standing water. In order to increase soil moisture level, work organic matter like Canada peat, sawdust, or ground corn stalks into the soil. The pH of the soil should be 4.5-5.5, definitely on the acidic side. Use a pH test kit to be sure pH is in the proper range. Add sulfur to acidify the soil if needed.

VARIETY SELECTION: There are early, mid, and late season blueberry varieties available. Plant two or
three different types to ensure pollination. An early/mid match is good, as is a mid/late. Plant 2-3 year
bare rooted, or 1 year potted plant.

PLANTING: Plant your blueberries slightly deeper than the roots. Space about 4 feet apart. Prune plants
to three or four of the strongest shoots and rub off all the fat fruit buds the first year. Mulch the plants
heavily to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Sawdust works well, as does bark mulch. NOTE: Do
not use manures around blueberries, as it is alkaline and will raise the soil pH.

WATERING: Weed and water your plants May through September. Plants should receive a thorough watering of about 1” of water per week.

FERTILIZING: Plants should receive a mid-summer (August 1-15) fertilization. Use ammonium sulfate at
the rate of 2 oz. per plant. Alternatively, use an organic fertilizer like Hollytone. NOTE: Avoid all nitrate
forms of nitrogen.

MULCHING: Each fall or spring, mulch your plants heavily so that there are always 4 inches of mulch at
the base of the plant.

PRUNING: For the first two to three seasons, pruning should consist of removing dead, weak, low, or
overlapping branches in order to develop a good branch system. Remove the fat flower buds for the first
three seasons. If you cannot distinguish the flower buds from the leaf buds, just remove the blossoms
when they open. After the first three years, leave 1/2 of the fruit (flower) buds on the sturdiest stems
to allow your first crop of fruit to develop. Continue to cut back the tips of the very vigorous canes to
control height and promote lateral branching.

NETTING: Use a garden net or black plastic garden mesh to protect your fruit crop from marauding birds.

PESTS AND DISEASES: Few pests attack blueberries, but watch for leaf hoppers (control with Sevin),
mites (use Diazinon and Malathion) and if nematodes are a problem in the soil, use a fumigant, or
interplant with French Marigolds.

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