How do you grow Blueberries?
Posted by Dobies Staff on 11 December 2014 11:04 am

The Blueberry plants require an acid soil that has a high organic matter content or if grown in container an Ericaceous Potting Compost should be used. Ideally the pH should be in the range of 4.3-4.8 but they will tolerate a pH of 4.0-5.5. Blueberries prefer a sunny spot in the garden but they can be grown in partial shade. Choose a site that is sheltered from cold winds and avoid frost pockets. In hard water areas the rainwater must be used. In the garden plant 1.5m (5ft) apart applying a dressing of bonemeal or Growmore and a mulch in spring. Bark would be a suitable mulch applied to a depth of 10-15cm (4-6ins) initially renewing annually to a depth 2.5cm (1in) to retain moisture and maintain the organic content of the soil. When cultivating around the plant take care as the plants are shallow rooted. The plant will eventually have a height and spread of 1.5m (5ft). 

Where soil conditions are alkaline the plants should be grown in containers. Pot on as necessary until in a container at least 45cm (18ins) deep. Once growth commences in spring feed the plants with a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer at 10 day intervals until they start to flower. From flowering until the fruit start to ripen feed with an ericaceous fertilizer every 10 days. 

Blueberries require little in the way of pruning which is carried out in winter. Remove any weak, dead, damaged or diseased wood and in the first few years remove the tips of the branches. Blueberries fruit on branches that are 2-3 years old. To encourage new growth remove a number of older branches that have fruited. 

Birds can be a problem and bushes should be covered with netting just as the fruit starts to ripen. Harvest the berries when fully ripe or they will have an acid taste. Pick the fruit when they have started to soften and come away easily. This is normally 7-10 days after they have turned blue. Pick the fruit by gently rolling the berry between thumb and forefinger to separate them from the stem. Not all fruit ripens at the same time and several pickings will be necessary. The fruit can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

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