How to Propagate Blueberry Bushes
Propagating blueberry bushes does take time, but you can do it without any specialized skills or equipment. You can propagate with hardwood or softwood cuttings, but hardwood are easier to handle, and they're more hardy. No matter which method you use, they produce healthy, new blueberry bushes.
Hardwood Cutting Method
The most common method of propagating hardwood blueberry cuttings is to place them in frames that are about 6 feet by 3 feet and about 6 inches to 10 inches deep. If you’re only rooting a few cuttings, you can use a smaller box. Place the boxes on top of gravel or stones for drainage. Cover the frames with glass or plastic to hold in the heat during cold weather. When the cuttings are in direct sunlight, place shading material, such as burlap over the frames. Exposure to sunlight should be about 60 percent.
Making Blueberry Cuttings
For best results, take cuttings from last season’s growth in the winter or early spring after about six weeks of 45ºF (7.2ºC) weather. If you collect them in the winter, you can store the cuttings in an area that has temperatures from 30ºF (-1.1ºC) to 40ºF (4.4ºC). Just place them in plastic bags or boxes with moistened sphagnum moss on the bottom. Follow these tips for making your blueberry cuttings:
- Choose disease free shoots.
- Avoid shoots with flower buds.
- Select shoots with one-quarter inch diameter.
- Use sharp, thin-bladed pruning shears to make a slanted cut to the shoots. They should be 4 inches long.
- Try not to crush or bruise the tissue of the shoot.
- Place the shoots in sphagnum moss immediately.
Fill your frames with 4 inches of blueberry rooting medium, such as ground peat or a mixture of peat and sand. Soak the peat in water for four hours before planting your blueberry cuttings. Push the cuttings into the peat medium until only the top buds are exposed. Set them 2-inches apart. When you water your cuttings, just mist them for about 10 seconds every five minutes until they take root, or as often as you can. After they root, mist them every few hours. The soil should never be saturated.
The most common diseases that infect blueberry cuttings are fungal infections. You can prevent this from happening to your new cuttings by good air circulation, removal of any diseased cuttings and any debris that falls into the frame. If you notice any fungus, decrease the amount of water that you spray on the cuttings.
If you give your blueberry cuttings the proper rooting medium, water and sunlight, then you’ll have rooted blueberry bushes in three to four months.