Planting Blueberries

First, a disclaimer.  I am certainly no authority on blueberries, having tried twice before to grow them and having failed both times.  But having decided to try again, here’s a little basic information for anybody else who might want to give it a try.

Blueberries require acidic soil.  So before planting it’s necessary to do a soil test.  Ideally the soil pH should be 4.5 to 5.0.  If the pH is too high, you can bring it down by applying sulfur.

We have a new garden with a pH of 5.3, which is too acidic for most things.  We decided to dedicate a bit of it to blueberries.  Even though we’re a little higher than the recommended pH, it seemed close enough to me, especially considering the way I planned to plant them.

We decided to plant rabbiteye blueberries, which are native to the Southeast, as opposed to highbush blueberries, which are native to the Northeast.  For improved pollination it’s best to plant at least two varieties.  We chose Powderblue and Tifblue, and we ordered our plants from Ty Ty Nursery, in Ty Ty, Georgia.

There was snow on the ground when they arrived, so we kept them in a refrigerator until we could work the ground.  I tilled in some compost and spread some bone meal (because the soil was deficient in phosphorous). Then I dug holes for the plants, filling in the holes with about 2/3 peat moss and 1/3 topsoil as I planted the bushes.  After that I put a thick layer of pine bark mulch around the plants and watered them thoroughly.

Planted

Planted

Mulched

Mulched

Deer destroyed our last attempt at blueberries, so this time I put a wire cage around each plant. If they grow as they should I’ll have to remove the cages before too long, but at least this will give them a good start.

Caged

Caged

This year we’ll pinch off any blooms and let the plant spend all its energy establishing itself.  Maybe next year we’ll get a few berries.  The year after that we should be getting plenty and if all goes well they’ll continue to produce for many years.

At least that’s what we’re hoping for.  If any blueberry experts happen to read this and want to offer some advice, I’ll be happy to receive it.