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Planting several blueberry bushes is a wonderful way to incorporate edible ornamentals into your landscape. The fruits are delicious to eat and contain a broad range of health benefits, and the plant's foliage provides a great source of fall color. Here are three keys to growing blueberries successfully.
Northern Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Highbush blueberries (Zones 3-8), are the most common. They are native to the mid-Atlantic region and grow to heights of around 6 feet tall. Once they reach maturity, a single highbush plant can produce as much as 6 pounds of berries every year.
Lowbush or "Wild" blueberries (V. angustifolium)
Lowbush varieties (Zones 2-6) are northern natives and very cold hardy. These dwarf bushes can act like a groundcover and spread via underground stems. They produce high quality berries that are small in size, and have a distinctive "wild" flavor. Expect mature plants to yield a few cups of berries each year.
Half-high blueberries (also called mid-high)
These compact hybrids (Zones 3-7) combine the berry size of highbush blueberries with the hardiness of lowbush blueberries. They grow approximately 2 to 4 feet tall. Half-high blueberries yield approximately 3 pounds of berries per plant at maturity and all varieties produce a beautiful display of color in the fall.
Southern Rabbiteye blueberries (V. ashei) Rabbiteye blueberries (Zones 7-9) are also referred to as Southern highbush blueberries. They are native to the Southeast and are better adapted to high temperatures and drought than other varieties. Rabbiteye blueberries can grow up to 15 feet tall. Like highbush blueberries, mature rabbiteye blueberry plants produce about 6 pounds of berries per year.
Plant multiple varieties: Some types and cultivars of blueberries require cross-pollination while others are self-fertile. Even when cross-pollination isn't necessary, planting two or more varieties next to each other will encourage all of the bushes to produce bigger and better tasting berries. Also, by planting varieties that ripen at different times, you'll maintain a fresh supply of berries throughout the season.
Blueberries in containers: If the soil in your area is not suitable for blueberries or your growing space is limited to a deck or patio, growing blueberries in containers is a great option to consider. Half-high and lowbush varieties work especially well for this. To create an acidic growing medium, mix together 1/3 peat moss or pine bark, 1/3 potting soil, and 1/3 builders sand. Stir in 1/2 ounce of sulfur for each cubic foot of soil. Fertilize plants with products labeled for use with azaleas, and top the pots with mulch to keep the shallow roots cool and moist. Replace the soil and prune back the roots every 3-4 years before repotting.
For the first several years, remove only weak growth and branches growing close to the soil. On mature bushes remove one-third of the oldest shoots each year, as well as any broken or diseased branches. Prune in late winter or early spring before growth begins.
Newly planted bushes should be given a full growing season to get established before allowing them to bear fruit. Remove all blooms as they appear the first year after planting. If your bushes are heavy producers, it's also good idea to remove a small portion of the flower buds each season. If you leave them all intact, you may find that your plants produce an over abundance of small, low quality fruits.
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?
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Any ideas on how to help our blueberries taste good for next year? Last year's crop was a great mix between tangy and sweet. This year, they are so bland and blah. We haven't done anything different but would like to ensure great tasting blueberries next year.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By Cynthia from AL
I didn't even get a chance to eat any of mine. I went to pick mine one afternoon and everyone of them were gone. The Birds got them.
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I am so proud of my blueberry plant. It has stayed true to the adage, of plants, and how they grow slow at first. The first year, the blueberry plant, slept, I hardly even saw a leaf. The second and third year, it crept, grew about five or so feet and started spreading out and produced a few blueberries. The fourth year, the blueberry plant leaped into life and it seems so happy. So this blueberry plant slept, crept, and leaped. I wanted to take a close up picture of my plant, since I am so happy to see it so happy!
My backyard :)
Photo Description Well, that's just how I feel about this picture. I have tried to grow several varieties of blueberries with only minimal results. I am tickled pink over this little beauty. As of February 20, it is covered with blooms, and soon will be covered with blueberries. My sister gave the plant to me. As it is out performing all my other blueberry plants, I sure would like to know the name of the variety. Wouldn't you just know, she doesn't remember. That's OK, no sweat. If I want more of these plants, and I definitly do; I don't have to know the variety. I will root cuttings from the gift bush. I do wish all gardeners were as sticky as I am about knowing the names of the plants they grow. Oh well, I'll survive, and the berries will taste just as good. Yes!
I barely remember reading a little quip years ago. It mentioned an American ambassador who was visiting Africa. He was taken to a remote village and introduced to the tribal chief. After the introductions, the ambassador said to the chief, 'I am just tickled to death to be here'. The interpreter, never having heard the expression before, struggled a bit and then came up with his best interpretation. He looked at the chief and said, 'I am scratched til I die to be here.
Well, that's just how I feel about this picture. I have tried to grow several varieties of blueberries with only minimal results. I am tickled pink over this little beauty. As of February 20, it is covered with blooms, and soon will be covered with blueberries.
My sister gave the plant to me. As it is out performing all my other blueberry plants, I sure would like to know the name of the variety. Wouldn't you just know, she doesn't remember. That's OK, no sweat. If I want more of these plants, and I definitly do; I don't have to know the variety. I will root cuttings from the gift bush.
I do wish all gardeners were as sticky as I am about knowing the names of the plants they grow. Oh well, I'll survive, and the berries will taste just as good. Yes!