Establish a Blueberry Bush: Plant, Water, and Fertilize

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A blueberry bush is a long-living, fruit-bearing, and ornamental plant. It is an easy fruit to grow and has beneficial antioxidants for your health. In order to establish a bush, there are a few key points to consider when plantin, watering, and fertilizing the plant.

Step 1 - Prepare the Soil for Blueberry Bush

Blueberries need full sun exposure to flourish, but they can tolerate partial shade. It takes three years for a blueberry bush to produce fruit. Blueberries thrive in acidic, well-drained, loose soil mixed with organic matter. Organic matter is important to the blueberry’s healthy growth because it improves the aeration of the soil and locks in moisture. Standing water around a blueberry bush can damage the plant’s roots so be careful to plant in an area that provides for good drainage. Organic matter can consist of compost, grass clippings, manure, or leaves. Do not use red maple or beech leaves for organic material. Mix the organic matter in the top 4 to 6 inches of the soil.

Step 2 - Use Acidic Soil

The blueberry bush needs soil with a pH level ranging from 4.0 to 4.8. Without the proper pH level in the soil, the blueberry bush cannot absorb water or nutrients. A soil test will determine the pH and nutrient levels in the soil.

If the pH level is high, add powdered sulfur to lower it to a good range. Once sulfur is mixed into the soil, allow two to six months to lower the pH to the right range. Do not continue to add sulfur to the soil into the fall before the spring planting of the blueberry bush. The amount of sulfur applied to the soil depends on the soil type and pH level.

Step 3 - Plant a Blueberry Bush

Plant a blueberry bush in the spring, before the buds appear. Dig a hole 18 inches wide and deep. Put one gallon of peat moss in the hole, place the plant in the hole, and fill in with soil. Place mulch around the plant to keep in moisture and prohibit weeds. Slowly decomposing mulch such as sawdust, salt hay, wood chips, oak leaf compost, or clean straw can be used. The depth of the mulch should be several inches and replenished yearly. When planting more than one blueberry bush, space them 4 feet apart.

Step 4 - Water Blueberries

Blueberries are sensitive to water fluctuations due to their shallow roots. The bushes need 1 inch of water a week. In drought conditions, the blueberry plant may need more water.

Step 5 - Fertilize a Blueberry Bush

After new growth appears, it's time to fertilize your blueberry bush. Apply ¼ pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Repeat the same amount of fertilizer the second year. In the following years add ¼ pound in March and ¼ pound in May.