The Q&A Archives: Blueberries

Question: I just bought some Blueberry bushes. I would like to know what is the best fetilizer to buy for them and general care.

Answer: Blueberries thrive in acidic, well-draining soil, in full sunshine. They'll also appreciate a mulch of pine needles. To plant, dig a hole larger than the root mass of your new shrub to loosen the soil, place a mound of soil in the bottom of the hole to drape the roots over, place the plant so it's growing at the same level it was growing in the container, and then backfill, gently tamping the soil down to eliminate air pockets. Then water well and plan to supply about one-inch of water per week to your new shrubs.

Use caution when feeding. Blueberries are easily damaged by excess fertilizer. First Year - Do not fertilize immediately after planting. Wait until the first leaves have reached full size, then apply 1 Tbs of a special azalea fertilizer, 12-12-12 or 10-10-10 within a circle 1 foot from the plants. Repeat application of fertilizer at 6 week intervals depending upon rainfall or irrigation until mid-August in the Coastal Plain and mid-July in the Mountains. Use 1/2 Tbs of ammonium nitrate instead of the complete fertilizer for the second and subsequent applications if phosphorus was above 60 on the soil test.

Second Year - Double the first year's rates, but increase the circle around plants to 1 1/2 ft . Apply the first application when new growth begins in spring.

Bearing Plants - When growth begins in the spring, apply 1 cup of complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 within a circle 3 ft from the plant.

Best wishes with your blueberries.

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