Growing blueberries can be easy if you get the right plants and have soil that is suited to growing them. However, in many areas the soil is too alkaline. Blueberries require an acidic soil with a pH between the range of 4.5 and 5.2. If your soil has a higher pH than 5.2, you will need to amend the soil before you try growing blueberry bushes.
To prepare your soil for blueberries, you should loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches and test the pH of the soil. If the pH is higher than 5.5 but lower than 7.0, you can increase the acidity by mixing acid peat in with the soil. Adding pine needles or pine wood chips to the soil will also help. For soil with a pH higher than 7.0, you will have a very time amending your soil to the level needed for growing blueberries. In this case, you should try growing your blueberry bushes in a raised bed so that you can have more control over the acidity of the soil.
Blueberries should be planted in an area that has full sun in well-drained sandy soil. Avoid buying bare-root plants. These are harder to care for and often do not survive. For best results, purchase blueberry plants from a local garden center or nursery. That way you can evaluate the condition of the plants before buying and purchase only the healthiest specimens.
Once you have planted your blueberry bushes, you need to make sure they get enough water. Especially during the first year, blueberry bushes need about 1″ of rain per week. In some areas, plants may get enough water from rainfall alone. However, you should monitor the amount of precipitation received in your area to be sure. If you are not sure whether your blueberries are getting enough water, try digging 6″ down about a foot away from the bush. The soil should be damp at that depth, but not wet.
To help maintain the acidity of the soil, you should mulch around your blueberry bushes with pine needles or pine bark. These materials are acidic, and as they decompose they will improve the quality of the soil and help keep it suitable for growing blueberries.
Blueberry bushes should be fertilized three times per year with an acidic fertilizer. The first time should be when the bushes first start to bud during spring. After that, you should fertilize them around the middle of the summer and again right before fall. The plants should also be pruned in the spring. Cut away any dead or damaged canes and those that are old and dark in color.
Blueberries should not be allowed to produce fruit during their first season. Producing fruit takes nutrients that the plant needs to grow properly. Remove any buds that develop during this time in order to force the plant to focus its energy on growing. In the second and subsequent years, you can enjoy the fruits of the harvest from your very own blueberry bushes.
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