The Q&A Archives: transplanting wild blueberies

Question: We have high bush bluberies growing wild in an area that we are clearing to build a retaining wall. I'm going to try transplanting them even though its the wrong time of year because otherwise we will be sacrificing them anyway. They are about 10 ft. tall and already have green berries. Do you have any suggestions that might help maximize their chances of surviving? Thanks!

Answer: To be honest I am not too optimistic about this working out, but you can certainly try given the alternative of losing them for sure. You will need to take as much of the root system as possible. Blueberries tend to have relatively shallow but wide spreading roots, probably well beyond the branch spread. Water thoroughly the day before you dig. When you dig, try to locate the main roots and follow them out as far as you can manage. Cut back the top growth proportionately to compensate for the root loss. Large rootballs are extremely heavy so you may will most likely help to raise it out of the ground and then put it on a tarp to drag or on a dolly to move it. Do not allow the roots to dry out during the move, if you have to delay replanting set the plants in the shade and keep the roots damp/cool by covering with damp newspaper topped with mulch. Replant immediately at the same depth and oriented the same direction as before. If possible, plant in a site with very similar growing conditions. After planting, water thoroughly to settle any air pockets and then mulch with two to three inches of organic mulch. Spread the mulch in a flat layer over the root area but do not allow it to touch the trunk/stems. Then water as needed to supplement rain so the soil stays evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet/saturated and not dried out. Finally, if you can provide some shade for them during the middle of the day from the move through the heat of summer, that might also be helpful. Good luck!

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