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Growing Highbush Blueberries in Maine - Frequently Asked Questions for High Bush Blueberries

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Planting

If I can’t plant my new bushes right away, how do I store them?
Place your plants into a cool, dark, moist environment. Do not allow the roots to dry out. Plant them as soon as possible.

Should I put fertilizer (granular or otherwise) in the hole at planting time?
No. All fertilizer should be mixed thoroughly into the soil prior to digging the hole and planting. Fertilizer can burn tender roots if they touch directly. For more information, see our video on planting.

Should I fertilize the bushes during the first growing season?
After planting, a light application of fertilizer (1 to 2 ounces) can be used in late June or early July in a circle 15 inches away from the base of the plant.

How close should I plant these bushes?
Allow at least 5 feet between plants with a row and a minimum of 8 feet between rows. Resist the temptation to place the bushes too closely. Good light and air circulation from wide spacing promotes growth and fruiting.

What if I have some broken branches on my new plant?
Trim the broken branch back to the first healthy bud with pruning shears.

Mulching

Does it matter what kind of mulch I use at the base of the plant?
Yes. Mulch should be loose enough for water percolation. Pine needles, wood chips or bark mulch work well as mulches for blueberries. Avoid using dyed mulches (black or red). Avoid using synthetic mulches like black plastic or landscape fabric.

How thick should I spread the mulch?
Spread the mulch 4-6 inches thick around the plant and out to the drip line. Don’t pile mulch up against the stem of the plant.

May I just let grass grow around the base of the plant as mulch?
No, grass will compete for nutrients and moisture. Blueberries perform best with a mulch to prevent weeds and competition.

How often do I need to mulch around my blueberry bushes?
The mulch should be freshened each year. Spring is a good time to do loosen the mulch with a hand tool and add a new layer of fresh mulch.

Watering

How often should I water my new blueberry plants?
Provide 1-2 gallons of water per week for any weeks in which no rain occurs.

Fruiting

When will my new blueberry plants bear fruit?
The plants if unattended would bear fruit this year. However, you don’t want that to happen. Remove the blossoms the first two years (2012 ands 2013). Then allow a light crop in year three (2014).

Why do I have to remove blossoms in the first two years?
Blossom removal helps the plant put it energies toward developing a strong root system and cane growth. The practice of removing the blossoms in the first two years after planting really helps the plant get established. You want strong, well-rooted plants for future fruit production.

How much fruit might expect from each mature plant? 
Mature highbush blueberry plants can be quite productive. Several quarts of berries could be harvested from each mature bush when conditions (adequate nutrients, adequate pH, well drained soil, ample water, minimal pest pressures, minimal winter damage, no blossom damage, good weather, etc.) are right.

Pruning

Should I prune these plants at planting time?
No, there is no need to prune health stems at pruning.

Pollination

Why did I get two or three different varieties of blueberries?
Different varieties of blueberries are needed for pollination. Wild bees, bumble bees and honeybees are the main pollinators of blueberries.

Pests

What pests might be attracted to my blueberries?
You may find that deer, Japanese beetles and various caterpillar (eastern tent caterpillar, fall web worm, gypsy moth larvae) feeding on the foliage. Don’t panic, plants can endure some insect feeding without seeing any harm to next year’s crop. Birds may be attracted to the fruit as your bush matures and produces fruit in year 3 and beyond.

Life

Are the blueberry plants that I received from this project guaranteed?
No, these plants are not guaranteed. However, we believe we have provided all the information you will need for successful growth.

How long do blueberry bushes typically live?
With proper care and in the right environment, blueberry bushes live 50 years or more.


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