Blueberry bushes should be pruned once a year to ensure good fruit production. After harvesting freshly picked blueberries all summer, it’s time to put your plants to bed for the winter. Fertilization will stimulate new growth, which may be fragile and be damaged by heavy snows and cold winter temperatures. Trim out any branches that are damaged or appear to be bothered by insects after your harvest is complete. You should prune blueberries as winter approaches to keep them productive, but they require no other major care to help them adjust to the cold nights to come. How to Fertilize Blueberries With Cottonseed Meal, How to Plant a Dianthus Raspberry Surprise, How to Make a Hydrangea Blue in Horticulture, How to Put Aluminum Foil Around the Base of My Plants, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: Blueberry Production in the Home Garden, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Home Garden Blueberries, Cornell University Extension: Blueberry Pruning and Rejuvenation, How to Amend Soil for Blueberries After Planting, The Best Already-Mixed Soil for Blueberries. Kristi Waterworth started her writing career in 1995 as a journalist for a local newspaper. Mulches such as bark, peat moss or pine needles will add acidity to the soil, helping to maintain the pH level that blueberries prefer. This allows the plant to harden off for the winter and prevents the development of new growth that will be easily damaged in frost. I know it's still the height of summer, but I want to have a plan in place to keep them alive over the winter. Add sulfur if necessary at a rate of 1 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet of bed area per pH unit reduction required, depending on soil type -- clay requires significantly more sulfur than sandy soils to reduce the pH. Winter mulch should be about six inches thick to provide adequate protection from cold weather, while during the growing season a mulch level of three to four inches is adequate. They produce bell-shaped white flowers in the spring, followed by luscious fruit in the summer or fall. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn. [1] X Research source Blueberries only grow on branches that are at least one year old. Heidi Almond worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. The way I see it, I can do one of three things: 1) Move the containers to my uninsulated, South-facing, enclosed back porch (which gets good sun, but still gets very cold at night). Blueberry bushes should … Deer do not normally browse blueberry bushes, although if they get hungry enough they might take a nibble. Winter Care for Blueberry Bushes. Use pruning shears to remove any diseased, weak or spindly branches and any canes that are more than six years old. Build a permanent fence by installing fence posts around your blueberry patch, then circle the blueberries with at least six feet of chicken wire to keep out rabbits. are an incredibly easy-care fruiting shrub for gardeners in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3b through 10, depending on variety. Bury the chicken wire about six inches deep. Keep mulch around your blueberries year round to improve soil drainage and keep down weeds. Generally, winter damage of blueberry plants occurs when temps are below 25 degrees F. (-3 C.), but this is in correlation with the relative dew point as well as the amount of wind. Check the pH and nutritional content of the blueberry's soil in the late fall. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) Prune your blueberry bushes late in the winter or early in the spring, when the plants are still completely dormant. Know where blueberry bushes produce fruit. Branches over four years may have a smaller crop. Blueberries make a great addition to any edible landscape. Refer to the soil test results for fertilizer recommendations, or simply side-dress your blueberries with a standard application of ammonium nitrogen fertilizer based on the age of the plant. Mulches such as bark, peat moss or pine needles will add acidity to the soil, helping to maintain the pH level that blueberries prefer. Cover your blueberries with a thick layer of mulch — approximately six inches — to help retain soil moisture throughout the winter and protect the roots from fluctuations in temperature. Apply ammonium nitrate at the edge of the blueberry's drip line at a rate of 1 ounce per plant for 1- to 2-year-old plants, 1 1/2 ounce for 3-year-old plants and 2 ounces for 4-year-old and older plants. Most blueberry varieties don't grow well in areas that have hot summers and mild winters. add a tasty element to the home fruit garden. Stop fertilizing your blueberry bush in July, advises Garden Center of Colorado. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, University of Minnesota Extension: Blueberries for Home Landscapes. From there, her meandering career path led to a 9 1/2 year stint in the real estate industry. How to Winterize Blueberry Plants. Waterworth received a Bachelor of Arts in American history from Columbia College. Manure and compost are not recommended. Blueberries are tough plants that are hardy down to 20 degrees below zero, but they do require some protection in preparation for winter. [2] X Research source Winterize blueberry bushes using a range of techniques that vary in intensity and level of protection. You must prune the bushes so that they provide enough new growth for blueberry production next year. Remove all but the two strongest canes from the current year's growth and any canes that are more than eight years old, leaving a maximum of 20 canes on a mature plant. Thin canes that emerge close together to prevent cankers caused by branches rubbing. Blueberries grow on the side-shoots, off of the main branches of the bushes. Avoid fertilizing your blueberry bushes late in the fall. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Water the plant thoroughly to encourage the additives to move into the soil. Straw or hay will also work. Prune your blueberry bushes late in the winter or early in the spring, when the plants are still completely dormant. Blueberries make a great addition to any edible landscape. If deer become a problem, wrap your blueberry bushes in burlap. Luckily, many berry bushes are cold-hardy and in fact need a certain amount of chill hours to set fruit in the spring. Create a temporary enclosure by cutting a length of chicken wire fencing and bending the loose wires together to make a small cage, to place around individual blueberry bushes. Dew point is the temperature at which water vapor condenses. Q. I planted three blueberry bushes in large containers in my back yard. In 2002 Almond graduated cum laude from an environmental liberal arts college with a concentration in writing. Since 2010, she's written on a wide range of personal finance topics. Mulch your fertilized and acidified blueberry plant with enough pine bark or sawdust to bring the mulch layer to 4 to 6 inches in depth immediately after side-dressing. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) Use pruning shears to remove any diseased, weak or spindly branches and any canes that are more than six years old. All Rights Reserved. Broadcast the sulfur as evenly as possible throughout the root zone without getting any on the plant, and do not attempt to work it into the soil; blueberry roots are close to the surface and will be damaged easily. Although they require acidified soil, a process that sometimes demands a great deal of initial input, once blueberry plantings are established, they are tough plants that suffer from few diseases or insect pests. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and vitamins, and they may be frozen, canned or dried, or made into jam or jelly.

how to winterize blueberry bushes

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