How to grow How to... How to: grow blueberries

How to: grow blueberries

 

Blueberries are pretty shrubs, with delicate, pink, bell-shaped flowers that give way to delicious purple-blue berries full of goodness and high in antioxidants. 


Just two blueberry bushes will give enough fruit for a couple to eat blueberries every day for breakfast through spring and summer. 


Autumn is the time to plant.

 


Photo - kazoka/Shutterstock.com


Step 1: Choose your variety (see below).

Step 2: Select a good size (50cm) pot. We suggest usingblack plastic pots and fills them up with good quality Azalea and Camellia potting mix, which has just the right pH for blueberries. Plant the blueberry bush and water in well. Or plant directly into the garden, preferably into an acid soil pH.

Step 3: Make a protective cage over the blueberry pot with pvc pipe and bird netting. Place the pot in full sun. Water every day.

 

Best varieties

‘Misty’ – has early spring fruit and is easy to grow in pots with large sweet fruit. 1m tall. Good for warm and cold temperate zones.

‘Sunshine Blue’ – is a self-pollinating, evergreen semi-dwarf that features a highly branched compact habit to 1m. Showy hot-pink flowers fade to white during the spring. Large fruit with an excellent tangy flavour is produced in abundance (around 4kg per bush) for about nine weeks during summer. Great for pots. Good for subtropics, warm and cold temperate zones.

‘Gulfcoast’- This low-chill bush variety has produced good crops of fruit in low-chilling localities where it has been trialled. The fruit is medium to large with a good flavour. The fruit holds well on the bush and has a firm texture with a good picking scar. It is quite hardy as blueberries go and has a good tolerance of root rot. Good for subtropics, warm and cold temperate zones.


Pruning

Blueberries require regular pruning to produce high yields of large fruit. Unpruned bushes usually contain a high percentage of old canes that decline in vigour and fruitfulness and too few young replacement canes. The most fruitful canes are 4 to 6 years old. The bushes are best pruned either in late-winter or early-spring. Spring pruning is recommended as any canes injured during winter can be identified and removed. Young bushes require little pruning for the first three years. Remove damaged branches and less vigorous, spindly growth around the base of the plants to encourage vigorous upright growth. After two years, mature bushes should be pruned annually. Firstly remove branches injured by frost or other damage, keeping only the strong and vigorous canes and laterals. Open up the centre of the plant. Secondly, remove fruiting branches that are spindly or less that 30cm from the ground.


Tips and Tricks

Though blueberries are self-fruitful and will set commercial crops without cross-pollination, some studies show that flowers receiving pollen from another variety will produce larger, earlier ripening fruit. Blueberries require bees for pollination and fruit set.

Frosts will damage plants.

Don’t use herbicides around your blueberries – just hand weed.

Only use the protective net for birds, the plants must be open to the bees so they can pollinate the flowers.

Avoid the use of lime.

Mulch with pine needles, pine bark or oak leaves.

 

Text: Linda Ross

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About this article

Author: Linda Ross