Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Grow Blueberries - Growing the Superfruit

healthy-blueberry-plant tips for growing blueberries

Why Should I Grow Blueberries?

  • Help improve memory and may help prevent age-related memory loss
  • Have a low glycemic index and may also aid in regulating blood sugar levels
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Protect the retina from oxygen damage
  • May help prevent cancer

What type of soil do I need for blueberries?

Blueberries grow best with an acid soil pH between 4 and 5.5, so do a soil test before you start. If your soil is alkaline, you’ll either need to do a LOT of soil amending or grow you blueberries in a container.

Blueberries like soil rich in acidic, organic material, like you would find on forest floor or edge of the forest.  Peat moss is commonly recommended, but pine needles, leaves and other tree fallout (that may be available for free) work just as well.

When you prepare your planting area, dig a generous amount of organic matter into your soil. Time and effort up front will make all the difference in plant performance.  Watch out for large amounts of sulfur and other chemical additives, which may lower pH but disrupt the soil microbes.  If you do add sulfur in quantity to lower pH, wait at least three months for it to break down before planting.  (For instance, add in fall for planting in spring.)

How deep should I plant my blueberries, and when should I fertilize them?

Potted plants should be planted at the same depth they are growing in pot.  The same rule applies for bare root plants.  The potted plants I planted blossomed and had fruit the first year.  Bare root plants may take longer.

How much water do blueberry plants need?

Blueberries need around an inch of water per week.  A good layer of mulch will  help keep up the moisture level stable, and cut down on the amount of time spent watering.  I would say the best mulch would be pine needles.  As they decay they will continue to supply nutrients and help maintain the correct pH.

If you can’t get pine needles, bark over landscape material would be my next choice, although I haven’t tried it.  Each spring, I would suggest pulling up the mulch and adding organic material such as compost or castings to keep the ground healthy. (Healthy soil = healthy plants.  Plants in the healthiest soil will produce the healthiest berries)  Remember, these bushes have the potential to provide many years of delicious berries, so they are worth the extra effort.

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