How to Take Care of Blueberry Bushes

Once only available in the wild, today’s blueberry bushes are cultivars that you can grow in your own backyard. The berries not only taste sweet and juicy, but they are an attractive addition to any landscape. If you follow these tips on caring for your blueberry bushes, you’ll have successful blueberry crops for over 20 years.


Blueberry Varieties

No matter which type of blueberry bushes you planted, they all need the same type of care. As a home gardener, you have the choice of planting four types of blueberries:

  • Highbush
  • Lowbush
  • Hybrid half-high
  • Rabbiteye

Each of these varieties is cultivated for its cold hardiness, season length, blueberry size and taste. Choosing which blueberry variety to plant, depends on your climate and growing season.

When to Water Blueberry Bushes

Blueberry bushes have thin, shallow roots. They don’t produce any root hairs, so changes in ground moisture influences their growth. For this reason, it’s vital to water your blueberries regularly. Water the bushes during the day, keeping the soil moist but not saturated. The water should moisten the soil to the depth of 1 inch at the start of the growing season. Increase the water to 4 inches in depth when the blueberries begin to ripen.

Make sure the soil around the entire plant gets plenty of water. If the bushes don’t get enough moisture when the buds and leaves form in the spring, your bushes will develop smaller berries. Excessive water results in oversized, tasteless berries.

When to Weed around Blueberry Bushes

It’s important to eliminate the weeds that grow around your blueberry bushes. The weeds compete for soil nutrients and water that your berries need for optimal growth. Since blueberry roots are shallow, be careful when removing weeds. To prevent uprooting your bushes, gently pull the weeds out by hand, rather than using a hoe.

How to Fertilize Blueberry Bushes

Apply organic matter to add nutrients and nitrogen to the soil that your blueberry bushes need to thrive. A few natural sources of nitrogen include:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Alfalfa
  • Chicken manure
  • Lawn clippings
  • Vegetable and fruit compost

How to Prune Blueberry Bushes

Removing dead and damaged canes from your blueberry bushes help promote new vegetative growth and blueberry production. If it’s your blueberries first year, remove the berry buds to strengthen the roots and vegetation on the bushes. After the third year, prune the blueberry bushes, leaving about 15 upright canes and pruning off lateral and dead canes.

How to Protect Blueberries from Birds and Animals

Birds love berries and can wipe out your crop in one day unless you take preventative measures. Spread garden netting over your blueberry bushes until you can harvest the berries. The netting will protect the berries from birds and other animals that enjoy blueberries as much as you do.