Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.
If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:
These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.
The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new berry plant? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:
Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of plant, is key to the success of many plants. In most cases, its absence is why the plant doesn’t bear fruit or produces poorly. Most berry plants are self-pollinating, but for a larger fruit and crop plant more than one variety.
Your plant would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your plant “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time. We do not recommend planting berries in heavy, pure clay soils.
Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Most berries are very adaptable and respond well to fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just steer clear of sites with extremely heavy soils or very poor drainage.
Once you’ve found out about fruit growing goodness firsthand, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.
Few things are as delicious as homegrown blueberries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.
Before you plant, check your soil pH. This can be done by contacting your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Ideally, your blueberries need a soil pH between 4.5-5.5, but below 6.5 will work. To amend your soil, use a soil acidifier. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or very poorly drained.
Growing blueberries in a container is ideal for patios, decks or porches.
Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.
The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.
Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.
Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.
Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.
Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the natural nutrients in your plant’s soil. We recommend a solution of Stark® Blueberry Special Fertilizer, which is specifically formulated for blueberries.
Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.
Usually on bark of young twigs and branches, encrusted with small (1/16”) hard, circular, scaly raised bumps with yellow centers, may also be on fruit. Sap feeding weakens the tree.
Wilted tip on plants indicates a possibility of a little borer. If it breaks off readily, and is hollow, prune back branch until no longer hollow. Burn all pruning.
Pale yellow or ‘dirty’ green worms. Leaves are rolled and webbed together where insects feed. Eventually becomes skeletonized.
Gray, hairy mold decays blossoms, green and ripening fruit as well as harvested fruit.
Bladder type enlargements of all or part of a leaf, white or pink and soft, turning brown and hard with age. Seldom serious, but in wet seasons in the south, the number of galls can be quite high, hand pick and destroy. This is more of a problem in the south.
Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt like patches on buds, young leaves and twigs. Leaves may be crinkle and curl upward. Over winters in fallen leaves.
Young growing tips wilt and dry just before blossoming. Fruits are yellowish, firm, leathery, turn dark and mummify.
Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves.
They are the size of a pinhead and vary in color depending on the species. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Leaves then curl, thicken, yellow and die. Produce large amounts of a liquid waste called “honeydew”. Aphid sticky residue becomes growth media for sooty mold.
Small oval insects, color range from pale green to reddish brown or black. Feed by sucking sap, signs of infection discoloration, deformed shoot and stems, curling of leaves and lesions.
Immature bugs are small green, soft-bodied and adults are small (1/4”) winged insect that feed on the plant sap. They are surround by a white mass that looks like spit. They suck on the sap, weakening the plants.
Adults are similar to a Cherry Fruit Fly and Apple Maggot. The larvae will tunnel and lay their eggs in fruit, usually in ripe fruit. Prompt harvest is very necessary.
Adult is a metallic green beetle, which skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are a grub, which feeds on turf roots. Check turf product labels for timing of control of grubs. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.
Immature flies are soft-body with tiny legs. Adults are wasp like in general body shape and some have yellow and black markings or are entirely black. Larvae feed on leaves and spin a cocoon when fully grown.
Small insects, less than 1/2” long, with feathery wings, yellow to brown in color. Cause damage if they lay eggs in fruit soon after bloom, scarring the fruit. In summer they feed on new vegetative growth, and damage summer fruit (not usually considered a problem).
Adults are hard-bodied, long snouts, usually dark colored. Feed on leaves, flowers and developing buds. Larvae are white grubs that live inside plant tissue; some live underground and feed on the roots.
Flowers turn brown, new shoots are blackened in center and wither and die. As berries ripen they become cream to pale pink, then tan or whitish gray, then shrivel and harden.
Various colors and similar to aphids this small, active, slender-winged insects are usually found on the underside of leaves. Retard growth, leaves become whitened, stippled or mottled. Tips may wither and die. This insect carries virus of certain very harmful plant diseases.
The fungus thrives in cool, moist conditions. Usually begins on plant debris, weak or inactive plant tissue, than invades healthy plant tissue. Causes spotting and decay of flowers and foliage, tissue becomes soft and watery. Affected parts of plant could wilt and collapse. If humidity remains high a grayish-brown coating and spores develops over the surface of the collapsed tissue.
Good sanitation will help avoid the problem.
Remove and destroy dead leaves, flowers and dead plants.
Water the plants at soil level and not on foliage.
New cankers appear on bark as small circular spots that are red or purple when wet. When they enlarge they become sunken orange to brown areas in the bark. As the cankers age, bark sloughs off exposing wood beneath, or disintegrates exposing fibers that give the area a ‘fiddle string’ appearance. Cankers usually do not grow larger after first year’s growth. Brown spots appear on leaves and fruit. At harvest the fungus can infect the fruit. Fruit lesions are circular, brown and sunken with gray or cream centers (Bull’s Eye rot). Disease rarely kills tree, usually confined to small branches and twigs.
Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:
Blueberries should be pruned during the winter while the bushes are dormant. In winter, flower buds are easily visible on one-year-old wood and their numbers can be adjusted by pruning to regulate the crop load for the coming year. Blueberries do not need to be pruned in the first year. Pruning should be moderately heavy in the second year.
If vigorous, well-rooted two-year-old plants are set, they do not need cutting back the first year except to remove fruit buds shortly after planting. Pruning should be moderately heavy in the second year to stimulate strong new growth on selected canes. Do not permit plants younger than three years of age to bear more than a cluster or two of fruit, or the onset of the commercially productive period will be delayed. A large bearing area should be established in the shortest possible time.
Make large “shaping cuts” — remove all low-spreading branches and the oldest canes if they are weak, particularly if in the center of the plant. “Head back” the upright “bull shoots” to the desired height to keep the bush from growing too tall. Essentially, you have then automatically selected the remaining, more upright canes to bear your crop next season and the following season.
On the remaining canes, systematically “thin out” the shorter, thinner shoots, leaving enough of the thick shoots to bear the crop and make new growth. Only experience can tell you how many shoots a particular variety of a particular age can carry and still perform well. It is probably better in most instances to prune too lightly than too heavily. Lighter pruning is usually practiced, as the plant grows older because it can carry more “wood” successfully due to a larger root system.
When blueberries are about 8 to 10 years old, they are at their productive peak— but renewal growth has reached a minimum, and production will begin to decline from year to year. To prolong your plant’s productivity, renewal pruning is needed. Some provision must be made to revitalize the plant to prolong its productive period.
A good reference book, such as Pruning Made Easy, can answer questions and guide you through the pruning process.
Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.
Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.
(DO NOT use on large trees)
Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit, and how to store your harvest.
You can start harvesting your berries in the second season. The berry color should be blue or pink depending on the variety. Just because they are blue or pink does not mean they are ripe, they need about 7-10 days to develop fully. Put your picking container underneath a bunch of blueberries and gentle run your hand over the cluster and the ripe berries will fall off. During the ripening season check every day for ripe berries.
Blueberries will keep up to a week in your refrigerator. If not able to use right away put berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm and then put them in freezer bags to enjoy all year long.
Annual average yield per plant: