Planting

Blueberries are difficult to propagate, and survival of rooted cuttings is poor. Purchase two- or three-year-old plants from a reliable nursery. Avoid one-year-old cuttings because they have a high mortality rate.

Planted properly, bare-root plants perform as well as container-grown plants and usually cost less to ship. If container-grown plants are pot-bound, prune the roots before planting.

Keys for Success

To control weeds early in the season, cultivate around the plants no more than 2 inches deep. After harvest, apply mulch to control weeds and conserve soil moisture.

Prune first-year growth so that just the two strongest canes remain. Keep one or two canes from each year until they are eight years old. Remove nine-year-old canes in early spring.

Harvest early or protect the fruit from birds.

As soon as possible after the plants arrive in early spring, plant them in soil that you prepared the previous season. Soak the roots in water for several hours before planting. Space the plants a minimum of 4 feet within rows and 10 feet between rows. Set plants 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery, and prune them to half their original size. This will remove most of the flower buds, balancing the top growth with the still-small root system.

Remove any flowers that appear the first year to divert energy and nutrients to the vegetative growth. Keep plants well watered because blueberry plants are extremely sensitive to dry conditions, particularly during the first two years after transplanting.

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