Marianne Canada
Toro Blueberry Bush Produces Bumper Crop

As a kid growing up in East Tennessee, I looked forward to that moment every summer when my dad would load our family up in the car and take us to a very special hiking spot. What made it so special? It wasn’t the hiking, trust me (I am not so outdoorsy). For me, it was the reward of wild blueberry bushes circling the bald at the top of the trail. We’d pick and eat and pick and eat, until our stomachs were protesting and our berry buckets were full. We’d head home already daydreaming of pie, cobbler, pancakes and jams, bursting with the literal fruits of our labors.

More tips: Joe Lamp'l shows you how to plant blueberry bushes so you'll be rewarded with delicious berries for years.

As an adult, I buy my blueberries from the farmer’s market, or the grocery store in a pinch. They are still one of my favorite fruits, but now they are so pricey that I dream of the bounty of my youth. So I got to thinking, how hard could it be to grow my own blueberries? Turns out, they are one of the easiest berries to grow, only requiring the following:

1. Sun

Blueberries are sun worshippers, which is why we always found the wild variety in a mountain bald, unobstructed by the forest.

2. Water

If you don’t have regular rainfall, plan on watering your blueberry bushes frequently. Which leads us to…

3. Soil

Even though blueberries love water, they don’t like to be soggy. Fickle! Plant your bushes in well-draining soil, or in a raised bed. A great way to make sure your soil is well-draining is to incorporate peat moss into it.

4. Pruning

This one was hard for me to swallow, but the first year you plant your blueberry bushes? You have to cut off all of the blooms. I know. No blueberries that first year. But, here is the thing: by pruning back the new blossoms in year one, you will have a great crop in years to follow! After the first year, prune at the end of the growing season, removing low growth and any twiggy, non-vigorous branches.

5. Mulch and Fertilizer

Two to four inches of mulch, once a year, will help regulate moisture and keep weeds at bay. Fertilize with an acid fertilizer when the buds appear in early spring, and then again once the fruit is established.

So there you have it! You can buy potted blueberry bushes now (and get to pruning!), but the best time to plant them is September/October, depending on your zone.

2 Comments About this Article

  • sheryl s
    I did not prune my bushes the first year, and am not getting a good crop, what can I do now? they are about 3-4 years old?

    Posted 3 years ago

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  • anonymous
    We have old plants - approximately 25 of them. We have been getting very good crops off of them. Last year we pruned what we thought was pretty radical and still had a good crop this year. The problem is that the plants are actually taller than we are and is hard to harvest the tops. Can we actually prune these to waist high? Will we kill them or will they be ok? What if we pruned every other one this height to see how they do and if ok prune all of them down the next year???

    Posted 9 months ago

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