first-year-blueberry-plants

Planting and Care of First Year Blueberry Plants

Getting your blueberry plants off to a good start in their first year is the key to strong, productive blueberry bushes. Most potted blueberry bushes that you buy in local nurseries are two or three years old. Make sure that you keep your potted blueberry plants in a sunny area until you’re ready to plant them.

Preparing the Soil

When planting your blueberries the first year, ensure that your soil meets the conditions your new plant requires. You’ll need acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.0. If your soil doesn’t meet these conditions, you can amend it. Remove about 8 inches of soil from the spot where you want to plant your blueberry bush. Add about 5 inches of peat moss to the hole and mix the soil you removed into the peat. This soil and peat mixture adds acidity to the soil.

Planting Blueberries

Plant your first-year plants from the end of April to the beginning of May. If you’re planning on growing more than one blueberry bush, space them about 3 feet apart. Follow these steps for planting new blueberry bushes:

  • Dig the holes deep enough to cover the blueberry roots with about 4 inches of soil.
  • Press the soil around the base of the plant.
  • Cover the soil with 2 to 4 inches of pine needles, pine bark or peat moss. The mulch helps keep acidity in the soil, giving your first year blueberries the nutrients they need.

First Year Blueberry Maintenance

During the first year after planting your blueberries, pick off any flower buds. By doing this, it gives the foliage and canes more time to grow strong. You will also do this during the second year of growth. On the third year, you can allow your blueberry bushes to produce berries.

Pruning Blueberries

Pruning during the first year also helps your young blueberry plant sprout new growth. Prune any dead or broken canes close to the ground. Leave only four to six healthy branches. This helps air circulation and sunlight to reach the stems. You should prune your blueberries every year to encourage new growth. Sometimes, this seems counterproductive, but if you don’t prune your blueberry bushes, they’ll become overgrown with woody branches and produce fewer berries.