We are getting ready to plant blueberry bushes. I have read online that we need to cut off the top 3rd of the plants when we plant them and then not let them produce for the 1st 2 years. Does anyone out there have experience with blueberries? Any help will be appreciated. Thanks and God bless!
Becki from Seymour, MO
Yum! I can taste them already!
I'm going to guess that you're growing blueberries of the Highbush variety. These are the blueberries people are most familiar with-the kind most often sold in grocery stores. FYI: There are also Half-High, Lowbush, and Rabbiteye blueberries.
Highbush blueberries generally start producing around age three. They may produce small clusters of berries before this age, but if not pruned back or "trained" during the first few years of growth, overall productivity can be somewhat delayed. Producing fruit takes a lot of energy, so it is always better to let a plant expend energy on becoming established during its first few years of life, rather then split its energy between growing and producing fruit. This isn't required, of course, but if you have the patience to train them for a few years before allowing them to swing into full production, you will be glad you did. The payoff is better fruit production down the road.
Blueberries are pruned during "training" (1-4 years old), and as needed throughout their life to maintain their shape. They may also be pruned to "renew" their vigor once they reach 8-10 years of age.
The Missouri State Extension Agency has a nice publication on growing blueberries in Missouri.
They also advise removing the flower buds for the first two growing seasons in order to allow the plant to become established.
Here is an additional resource from the North Caroline State University Extension Agency on the principle of pruning Highbush blueberries.
I've never heard of cutting them down like that, but that doesn't mean anything... Maybe i'll try that with my new bushes.
I DO know that blueberries need a LOT of nitrogen in their soil. We "ring" ours with chicken when we clean out the coop in the spring and fall. You don't have to work it in, just spinkle it in a ring about 5 -12 inches from the "trunk."
Ours are still small too so no berries yet, but at the farm where I grew up we had bushes over 8 feet tall!
(i live in south western michigan in what's called the "fruit belt.")
I just planted some last year. The plants were a year old when I got them, so when I planted them, they were already on their second season and there were no berries. This year--their third season--they have some berries. I'm not sure where you live in MO, but where I live in AR, highlands do not do well. I bought varieties (from Stark Bros. in MO) that do best in my area, hot and humid. It's best to get more than one variety for a longer season and variety. I hear that they're easy to root, so I plan on rooting my cuttings for additional plants later.
I'm not sure how to do the root cutting. Can someone help me root cutting for blueberry bushes?
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