Every gardener dreams of collecting a rich harvest of blueberries on their site. This berry is becoming more and more popular for cultivation, although it is not so common in gardens so far.
Many consumers have praised blueberries for their excellent taste. But this berry, in addition to its rich taste, can offer the body many useful substances.
Regular consumption of blueberries can help improve the functioning of the thyroid gland, heart, kidneys, and brain. Nutritionists have also noticed this magic berry: they recommend that everyone who needs to correct their figure eat dishes containing blueberries at least a couple of times a week.
But to grow a healthy and beautiful plant, some effort must be made. Today we want to tell you how to take care of blueberry bushes and how to prune blueberry properly so as not to harm the plant.
How to Care for a Blueberry Bush
Many gardeners successfully grow blueberries on their plots. But planting and maintenance for blueberry bushes have their characteristics, so you have to be patient and pay a lot of attention to this capricious bush. But you would not regret the efforts expended during the harvest of healthy sweet berries.
To make blueberries sweet, you need to grow them where there is a lot of heat and light. The blueberry bush does not like drafts, so the site should be protected by walls of buildings or a hedge of trees. Some blueberry varieties, such as Bluecrop and Patriot, can also grow in the shade. True, the berries are likely to disappoint: they would not be as sweet as expected. In addition, the lack of sunlight may affect their quantity.
Loose, well-drained soil with low groundwater levels is ideal for growing blueberries. Some gardeners plant shrubs on peaty sandy or peaty loamy soils. Such soils are rich in nitrogen, but due to the increased content of this element, plants can freeze out in winter, and with the arrival of spring they can thaw longer than usual.
Blueberry shrub thrives exclusively in acidic soil with a pH in the range of 4.5-5.5. No other crops must be previously grown on this site.
Blueberries love moisture, so the success of growing directly depends on the correct watering. The shrubs should be watered quite often, they would not have enough natural precipitation.
Some gardeners organize drip irrigation for this, such a hydraulic system guarantees excellent results.
The signal for watering would be the dryness of the 1.5 inches topsoil layer. Blueberry seedlings and young shoots should be watered every 2-4 days. Watering should be done more frequently during dry periods, less frequently at moderate temperatures.
Frost Protection for Blueberry Bushes
Gardeners who have been cultivating blueberries for a long time note: the plant is normal for cold snaps and can withstand winter frosts up to 30 °C. But if there is little snow in winter, then the danger of freezing the bushes increases. To avoid this, the plants are covered with burlap. Before the onset of the first autumn frosts, the blueberry branches are neatly bent to the ground and tied with wire or twine, without tightening too tight.
How to Understand What Blueberries Are Missing
The lack of various mineral elements can be judged by the following signs:
- yellowish color of leaves and weak growth-lack of nitrogen;
- spots on the leaves, blackening and partial death-lack of potassium;
- leaf deformation – lack of calcium;
- reddening of the edges of the leaves-lack of magnesium;
- the purple color of the leaves pressed against the branch is a lack of phosphorus;
- green veins with yellow leaf color-lack of iron;
- white or white-yellow color of the leaves-lack of sulfur (indicates a decrease in acidity);
- yellowing of the leaves is a lack of boron.
And perhaps the most notable symptom of plant disease is that blueberry bushes are not producing fruit. It is possible to fill the lack with one or another element with the help of a complex of fertilizers.
You can propagate blueberries by seed or cuttings.
Seeds: a very long and difficult way, in which a full harvest can be expected no earlier than 10 years later. Seeds are taken from fully ripe berries, dried, sown in a shallow trench. After 1-2 years, the seedlings are planted in a permanent place.
Root cuttings: a cutting is separated from the parent bush, placed in the sand, stored in a cool place. After 1-2 years, a seedling is obtained, the harvest of which can be expected the next year after planting in open ground.
This item requires special attention, so we want to highlight it separately. Many gardeners may be tempted to let blueberry bushes grow on their own, as they do in the wild. But if you grow this berry in your yard, then pruning is simply necessary.
Why Pruning Blueberry Bushes Is Important
• Prune blueberries so they get enough sun and stay healthy. This would also provide good air circulation and allow the plant to get pesticides.
• Blueberry plants can sometimes become the target of some pests or diseases. Pruning in this case is the best solution to cut out all diseased stems and keep the health of the plant under control.
• Pruning berry bushes is a great way to increase yields and improve fruit quality. The point is that when you remove old branches, you stimulate the growth of new fruit stems. In gratitude for your efforts, you can get larger and juicy berries.
When to Prune Blueberry Bushes
The blueberries should be pruned annually, but only during the dormant period. Since at this time, such a procedure causes less stress on the plant. Do not prune blueberries after harvest in summer. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, pruning can be done anytime from late fall to early spring. But we recommend that you wait until the temperature gets warmer, for example at the beginning of March. This rule also works if you live in the south.
For example, if you live in Washington, DC, the ideal time to prune blueberry bushes is mid-January through the first weeks of March. Pruning is best done on a dry day. If you live in Oregon or Georgia, then this time is also perfect. It is believed that blueberries grow well in these regions. In other states, you can start pruning blueberry bushes in mid-winter.
How to Prune Blueberry Bushes
Before you start pruning blueberries, you need to determine where the young and the old plants are. Below you can find instructions for pruning bushes in both cases. But first, let’s learn about some key points.
- Never shear back blueberries and turn them into the shape of a meatball. The point is that the fruit buds are on the outer 2-3 inches. If you cut the plant, then all the buds are removed.
- Incorrect pruning is fraught with the risk that new branches may not form properly.
- When carrying out this procedure, be sure to use only sharp and sterile instruments. We recommend that you disinfect them every time you move from one bush to another when pruning. Otherwise, it threatens the spread of various diseases.
Step-by-Step Blueberry Pruning
- First, evaluate the cuttings. It is best to start pruning with old, damaged, or dead branches. Cut these stems off all the way back to where they join a thicker branch. In no case do not leave the stumps, as the disease can permeate through it.
- Next, start trimming the branches that are intertwined with each other. If they rub against each other strongly, then it is recommended to remove them from the base of the plant.
- Now you can start pruning young cuttings. To do this, cut off every third, but the choice should be given to the older and thicker ones. This would stimulate the emergence of new and productive stems.
This procedure should be carried out every year, always removing the oldest and thickest branches. The yield would be maintained and the plant would slowly rejuvenate.
After pruning, you can also fertilize the plant. This should be done around the beginning of spring. We recommend that you use acid-specific organic faceted fertilizers. For example, you might prefer HollyTone fertilizer. Be sure to read the instructions on the label before use.
Pruning contributes to the healthy growth of the blueberry bush, increasing its yield. If not carried out, blueberries grow many weak shoots that take food from well-fruiting branches. In addition, when the bush thickens, it is more likely to be damaged by diseases and pests. So remember to follow the guidelines above to grow a healthy and rich fruit plant!
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