Growing Guide Blueberries in pots for fall planting

Blueberries thrive in full sun and in acid soil that is moisture-retentive yet well drained. A soil pH between 4-5 is best (4.5 is ideal), so we recommend that you have your soil tested. Contact your county USDA Cooperative Extension Service for information on soil testing. Soils can be acidified by adding peat moss, powdered sulfur, or iron sulfate (available at garden centers). For best results in your garden, please read the general and more specific information below.

WHEN YOUR ORDER ARRIVES

Open the box right away and examine the contents. Check the top 1″ of soil in potted plants. If it is dry, water gently but thoroughly from above or set the pot in a saucer of water for no more than an hour. Please notify our Customer Service Department immediately at 1-800-411-6159 or [email protected] if you have questions or find a problem with your order.

IF YOU MUST DELAY PLANTING

It's best to get your potted berry plants into the ground soon so the roots can establish well before winter. Pot-grown plants may remain in their original pots for a week or so, provided you keep up with their need for water and sunlight. A potted plant left outside for a few hours on a dry, windy day, or indoors in a hot, sunny place can dry out beyond the point of no return. If you must delay planting for more than 2 weeks, we recommend you shift the plants into larger pots.

GENERAL PLANTING INFORMATION

Check the moisture in the potting mix around your plant. If it is dry, water thoroughly.

Light. Choose a location in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun each day) with excellent drainage, then dig a hole that will generously accommodate the plant's root ball.

Planting. To remove a plant from its pot, flip the pot over, tap on its bottom and slip the plant out. Do not pull the plant out by its stem. Loosen the root ball with your fingers and tease the roots apart if they've become matted or tangled within the pot.

Set the plants into the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Then push soil back into the hole around the plant and press firmly with your hands to eliminate air pockets and establish good soil contact. A gentle but thorough watering will further settle the soil around the plant. Keep newly transplanted plants moist but not soggy and provide shade (with row cover, cardboard, or lath) for the first few days as needed. Transplant shock is not uncommon, but within a week or less the plants' roots will regain their ability to provide moisture to the foliage. Remove the shading once plants perk back up.

SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR BLUEBERRIES (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Spacing. Allow 4–5′ between Blueberry plants. Cross pollination between varieties results in heavier fruit production.

Planting. To amend your soil with peat moss, remove about half of the soil dug from the planting hole and replace it with at least as much peat moss. Mix the peat moss thoroughly into the remaining soil before pushing it back into the hole. Plant the crown of your plant at the same level it was in the pot.

Watering and fertilizing. Blueberries require about 1in of rain or irrigation per week. Surrounding your plants with a 4–5′ circle of mulch helps keep the soil moist and prevents the growth of weeds. Apply a 2–4″ layer of wood chips, shredded bark, or other organic material. The year after planting (and every year thereafter) apply a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants at flowering time in spring and again about 4 weeks later.

Pruning. Although it may hurt to do so, you should remove all of the flowers produced the first spring after planting. You will be rewarded with healthier, more productive plants. For the next several years, pruning needs will be light—in early spring, remove weak branches and branches that have suffered damage over the winter, and thin interior branches if they are crowding each other.

To keep mature plants vigorous and productive, prune in early spring to remove dead wood and low, spreading branches. Limit the number of major branches arising from the base to 8–10. Regularly remove branches that are more than 4–5 years old, and allow younger branches to replace them.

Pests. The most serious pest of Blueberries is birds. The only sure way to protect your crop is to cover your plants—either individually or as a group—with plastic netting (available at most garden centers). Support the netting above the shrubs with wooden posts and tie it at the base to keep the birds from reaching the fruit.

Harvesting. Bushes begin bearing the second year from planting and reach maturity in 6–8 years. Berries are ripe when they fall readily from the stems.

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