The Q&A Archives: Blueberries

Question: I have several varieties of blueberry bushes, two or three years old. They don't seem to be growing, produce only a few berries, and have been sprouting branches. Do they reseed themselves, or do the branch out? Can I plant some small flowers around the berry plot just to spruce it up? Should I prune them and when?

Answer: Blueberries are related to rhododendrons and azaleas, and like the same conditions: full sunshine, frequent water, and acid soil. If your plants aren't growing, perhaps they need a little extra care. Try feeding next spring with an acidified fertilizer (one made especially for rhodies and azaleas), then mulch the root area to help hold moisture in. You can prune to encourage growth and promote flowering. Each bell-shaped flower should produce a berry. To help pollination along, plant flowers that bloom at the same time as your blueberries, and the bees will find the bed without problem. Blueberry shrubs are generally self-shaping, but you can prune out some of the oldest branches, or pinch out the twiggy growth at the ends of the branches, after harvesting the berries.

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