It’s surprisingly easy to plant your own blueberries tree from seed, and it makes a great educational project for home and classrooms. Check out our handy-dandy guide below to learn how to grow blueberries .
The goodness of blueberries
Before started, let us understand what is the goodness of blueberries: –
- Blueberries contain a mixture of plants called anthocyanins. This gives blueberries their blue color and their many health benefits.
- Blueberries can help with heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health. (1)
- One cup of blueberries provides 24% of the daily allowance of vitamin C. (2)
- Use blueberries to top waffles, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, or cereals, blend them into smoothies or syrups, or add them to muffins and sweet breads.
- People who use blood thinners, such as warfarin, should talk to their doctor before increasing the number of blueberries, as too much vitamin K can affect blood clotting.
How to plant blueberries from seeds
1. Extract seeds
To extract seeds from shop-bought blueberries, it’s best that they have not been imported, or are organic, as imported berries may have been treated, which can prevent the seeds from germinating. Before extracting the seeds, you first need to freeze the blueberries for at least 3 weeks, which will simulate winter and stratify the seeds.
2. Defrost the berries
When you are ready, defrost the berries and allow them to come to room temperature. Put the berries in a blender and half fill it with water, then blend them for about 10-15 seconds. You can mash them without a blender, but it will take longer.
3. Scoop the pulp
Let the mix sit for a few minutes, and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Scoop the pulp off the top, then pour the liquid through a fine sieve. You should be left with Reddy blueberry seeds, which you can rinse before emptying onto newspaper or paper towel and leave to dry.
4. Sow your blueberry seeds
To sow your blueberry seeds, prepare a container filled with peat moss, and moisten it. Sprinkle your seeds on top and cover with a very thin layer of peat moss.
5. Place the container
Place the container in a sealed propagator or cover with plastic wrap – to keep in the moisture – and position in a warm, bright place. It can take as long as 6-12 weeks for blueberry seeds to germinate. During this time, keep the potting mix moist, but not over wet.
6. Germination process
Once the first seeds begin to germinate, remove the cover. When seedlings are a couple of inches tall, thin out the weak ones. When they are large enough to handle, pot the seedlings on into an ericaceous potting mix, and plant out in the fall or spring after hardening off for a week or two.
How to plant blueberries in pots.
Here are the steps for how to grow blueberries in pots
- Blueberries produce satisfactory yields if planted in containers or raised beds with mixtures of peat moss, sand, and pine bark. This will give it the acidic soil it needs to thrive. Depending on the size of your plant, you only need a container between 12 and 18 inches deep.
- Sandy soils are ideal for growing blueberries. If you are growing in sandy soil, drip irrigation should be provided because most blueberries are not drought tolerant. Do not plant blueberries on heavy clay soils that have poor internal drainage, which will cause root decline and poor vigor.
- Blueberries are a low maintenance plant and are easy to grow, but they are sensitive to excessive fertilizer. Instead of one high dosage feeding, apply fertilizer two or three times a year at low rates. Organic slow-release fertilizers are best. Avoid fertilizers that contain nitrate forms of nitrogen, which may slow plant growth. Instead, use fertilizers with nitrogen in the form of urea or ammonium.
- Check the fertilizer package to determine the form of nitrogen that it contains. The most effective and most used nitrogen fertilizer for blueberries in Texas is ammonium sulfate (21-0-0).
- Mulch is vital for growing blueberries, especially during the first 2 years of planting. It helps acidify the soil, control weeds, conserve soil moisture, and moderate soil temperatures. Apply a layer of mulch 2 to 3 inches deep over the exposed soil in your container.
- Appropriate mulches include peat moss, pine straw, pine bark, leaves, and grass clippings. Do not use barnyard manure, which has a high salt content.
- Once the fruit begins to ripen, protect your berry harvest from birds by isolating the crop. Netting continues to be the most complete and effective way to reduce bird damage in small fruit plantings. It is the most durable and with proper care, may last up 10 years.
Tips for How to grow blueberries
Here are some important tips for How to grow blueberries:
When to plant blueberries
Do this in late July or early August. Some varieties, including Rabbiteye, take a little longer to fully ripen. Each year, the harvest time varies slightly depending on the weather conditions.
Use one to two inches of water each week. Be careful not to over-water or drown your blueberry plants.
Soil, Planting, and Care
Blueberries prefer acidic soils. A fail-safe way to grow blueberries in almost any soil is to incorporate peat moss into the planting medium. For planting directly in the ground, work up a planting area approximately 2½ feet in diameter and 1 foot deep for each plant.
2. How to Plant blueberries
Below are the procedures for how to grow blueberries
Use blueberry plants that are 2 to 3 years old
That way, they will soon begin to bear fruit for you. If you start with small plants, it will take a few years for them to bear fruit. Plant shrubs in early spring. The fruit will ripen by the end of summer.
Loosen the roots of the blueberry plants
To loosen the roots, tap the blueberry plants with the heel of your wrist. Do this around the outside of the container and then turn it to one side and slide it out by tapping the plant on the bottom of the pot. Hold the plant with your hand.
Do not grab the plant by the stem as this can dislodge the roots and damage the plant.
Dig a small hole for each plant
It should be so low that the top of the root base is 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) above the ground (for plants about 2 years old, 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide). You can use a simple hand troll to dig holes.
Drill between 2-1 / 2 and 6 feet. If you close the holes close to each other, you will end up with continuous rows, but if you separate the holes further, you will end up with individual bushes.
Plant the blueberry plants
To cover any exposed roots with 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) of soil, tap the soil at the top of the plant. Then, apply 2 to 4 inches (5.1 to 10.2 cm) of mulch to the planting side. It helps to keep the soil moist, prevent weeds and enrich the soil.
- Bark mulch, sawdust, and grass clippings are all good choices for mulch for blueberries. Replenish the mulch every couple of years.
- Always water the area thoroughly after planting.
What is the weather to grow blueberries
Blueberries are typically grown in humid, northern climates that have winter chills, mild summers and low-pH or acidic soils, conditions that limit their range. But many new varieties are available for lower chill areas, very warm areas, as well as coastal areas. The blueberry now has an enormous range. Blueberry is very resilient plant and can withstand temperatures from -20 ° C to -25 °C (-5 °F to -13°F) without any damage. If the plant is covered with snow and the roots are protected with some sort of winter cover (thick mulch, for example), blueberries can withstand much lower temperatures.
When do blueberries fruit
A blueberry bush will produce fruit between June and August, after blooming in spring and early summer. A blueberry bush will produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting, reaching full production after 6 years and full size after 8 to 10 years
How to make soil acidic for blueberries
Most fruits do best in slightly acidic soil between a pH of 5.5 and 6.5. Blueberries prefer an even more acidic soil with a pH between 4.09 and 5.0.
- Your local agricultural extension office should have soil testing forms, bags, and instructions available.
- If the pH level is higher than 5.0, enrich the soil to make it more acidic using acid compost or planting mix.
- If the soil pH is above 4.5, mix in granular sulfur to lower the pH level so it is closer to 4.09.
- After adjusting the soil, always test its pH level again.
How to Care for Blueberry Bushes
1. Water the plants
Use one to two inches of water each week. Be careful not to over-water or drown your blueberry plants.
2. Prune the plants every winter
The first year when you plant blueberries, cut off all the flowers of the plant. This will make the plants more flexible before they start producing fruit. Pruning also removes crowded or stagnant stems and allows the productive parts of plants to become stronger.
- Then, every year, remove the low growth around the base of the bush by cutting at an angle to the node of each branch. Remove any colorful, spotty growths from plants, including dead branches and / or twigs.
- Cut the stem off the ground. Cut the bush blueberries, but do not cut the whole plant, as the cut stems will not bear fruit next season. To make sure your plant grows every year, cut only half of the plant each year.
- The pruning process should eliminate about 1/3 to 1/2 of the wood growth on each plant. Thin out the branches further if necessary.
Fertilize the plants
If your blueberries grow less than a foot per year (or less than 4 inches for low shrubs), try using natural fertilizers to increase plant productivity. If possible, use organic fertilizers to avoid damaging the roots and effectively provide nitrogen to the blueberries.
- Seed foods like soybeans and alfalfa are good organic options. Depending on the size, apply 1/4 cup to 2 cups of fertilizer per plant.
- Blood meal and cotton seed meal also works well as fertilizer.
- For best results, fertilize the plants in early spring and then in late spring. Always water well after fertilizing.
Test the pH level of the soil every two years
Remember, if the pH level is higher than 5.0, you can make the soil more acidic by using acid compost or planting mix. If the soil pH is above 4.5, mix in granular sulfur to reduce the pH level. (3)
How to store blueberries
Refrigerate in a shallow container or freeze right after harvest. Do not wash the berries until ready to use. Refrigerated blueberries are best when used within 3-5 days, but storage life can extend 7-10 days.
Pests and Diseases
Fungal diseases include Botrytis, mummy berry, Anthracnose, and powdery mildew. Stem and foliage diseases are Phomopsis twig blight and Botryosphaeria stem blight and stem canker. Blueberries also can suffer from root rot due to water-logged soil. Avoid root rot by planting in an area that drains well or in raised beds.
To control disease and insect problems, maintain good ventilation around the plants. Prune away crossing and rubbing branches. Thinning out branches every other year or so helps to promote air circulation within the plant. Insect problems can be caused by Japanese beetles, cranberry fruit worm, cherry fruit worm and blueberry maggot fly.