Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Fertilizing and Pruning Your Blueberry Plants

Pruning a blueberry bush

Pruning a blueberry bush

You may feel a need to fertilize your newly planted blueberries. Don’t do it. They don’t need fertilizer after you plant them, and never put fertilizer in the planting hole. You can give them a little bit (1/4 pound) of 10-10-10 fertilizer after you see a second round of new growth. That’s a sign that the root system has settled into its new home. You can do that again the next year at the same time. Starting in the third year, you can boost the fertilizer dose to a half pound per plant and deliver half at the end of March and half at the end of May.

Plan for Pruning

Pruning is essential if you want your blueberry plants to be healthy, produce quality fruit, and look good. During the first two years, you should remove the fruit buds; they’re fatter and rounder than leaf buds, about 6 to 10 inches from the ground. For the first three or four years, cut off dead and crooked canes, and trim off weak shoots. Keep in mind that it’s essential that the center of the plant gets sunlight.

Once your plants are five or six years old, you’ll need to start removing some of the canes at ground level. Find the oldest cane (it will probably also be the largest) and remove it. The rule of thumb here is that you never want to have any canes on your plant that are older than six years. The older the cane, the less productive and more susceptible to disease it’s likely to be.

How do you fertilize your blueberry plants? Have you ever accidentally over-fertilized? What about pruning your blueberry plants? Please share your best tips for fertilizing and pruning your blueberries.

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