Blueberry bushes are great plants to grow in a section of your garden. They’re low maintenance but can provide you with an awesome yield of fruit each year. What’s more, they are one of nature’s fast foods. They don’t require any preparation before eating.
I first came across fresh blueberries when I was cooking at a resort near Pemberton. By fresh I mean they weren’t a couple of days old when we received them from the grocer. We had a supplier who grew blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, strawberries, boysenberries – you name it. If it came from a berry bush he would be growing them. Often we would go to his farm to help pick them or at least get some that he had already recently picked.
I had never considered growing blueberry bushes until recently but I might be able to squeeze one or two in along the fence of my vegie patch. Depending on which variety you decide on most only grow about 30cm (1ft) – 1m (3ft) high and bush out about 1-2m wide so they are in the realms of possibility for most household gardeners.
How to Plant Blueberry Bushes
Blueberry bushes prefer a rich soil that contains a fair amount of humus. They’re acid loving plants preferring the soil’s pH to be in the vicinity of 4.5 to 5.0 and frequent amounts of fertiliser especially prior to, and during, the fruiting season. Blueberry bushes love full-sun but can tolerate part-shade and prefer growing in colder climates. They also require frequent watering during their fruiting season.
To plant a blueberry bush follow the instructions from my How to plant a shrub making sure the soil you plant into is as above, rich in humus.
If you are considering growing a few blueberry bushes, you may want to plant some varieties that will fruit at different periods. Some varieties will set their fruit in early spring while others won’t ripen until late summer. Ask your supplier for varieties that are suited to your region with these characteristics.
How to Propagate Blueberry Bushes
One gardener who demonstrates her attempts at propagating blueberry bushes is Kerry from Kerry’s Garden. She took some cuttings off her container planted blueberry bush and planted them in some trial settings. Some she kept under plastic, some glass and others without any covering at all.
While I have never attempted to propagate these bushes before I will make a couple of observations from Kerry’s trials. Firstly, the planted blueberry bush that she shows as being the parent for these cuttings looks like the buds have formed fairly well already. I think she probably should have taken her cuttings a lot earlier in the bushes dormancy period. Like grape cuttings, if you propagate the canes towards the end of winter instead of at the end of summer the buds will instantly open and deprive the cane of all the nutrients needed to produce roots.
Secondly, Kerry didn’t seem to use any rooting powder for her blueberry cuttings. Most times I don’t use any rooting hormones for my propagated cuttings because I like the challenge. However, if you want a greater chance of success you should consider using something that will stimulate root growth especially with blueberry bushes that like to race away after budding.
How to Prune Blueberry Bushes
I had an email from a reader yesterday requesting information about being able to espalier a blueberry bush. While most berries this is very possible due to their extended canes, blueberry bushes don’t grow that large. I guess if you had a small wall that you were hoping to cover espaliering your blueberry bush may not be impossible. However, I have never seen it done before.
Pruning blueberry bushes should be done at the end of winter and requires clipping away any dead wood. The fruit comes from buds on second year wood so you will need to take this into consideration when you’re pruning.
What are the Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries are high in vitamin C and apparently the pigment in the skin is a powerful antioxidant. Enjoying them as part of your normal diet will help protect you against cancer and heart disease and it has also been proven that they can protect you against vision loss.
Photo source: Will Merydith