Blueberry runners

jeanne123_2008(8 Louisiana)February 16, 2008

My blueberry trees have sent out multiple shoots and I would like to know the best way to transplant them to not compete with the main plant.


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Blueberries are not trees, but bush type plants. It is normal for them to have multiple canes from the base. About 6-8 canes is ideal for a mature plant -- not too crowded but just right. The time to remove canes at the base is when they become thick, old, and gnarly, and berry production begins to fall off. This takes 3-5 years.

If you try to lop off all the new canes but one, you will ruin your blueberry bushes, and the shoots you try to transplant will die. Vigorous, base-growing shoots are what blueberry growers try to achieve. For heavens sake, leave them alone.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 8:57PM
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You can't transplant the shoots the blueberry bushes have sent up, as you cannot separate them from the rest of the plant with any roots intact.

As Don said, blueberries should have multiple shoots. For small plants, though, I wouldn't leave any more than 5-6. I would also remove any very weak canes, and especially any that are showing any sign of disease.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 9:11PM
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Actually, y'all, if jeanne has rabbiteye blueberries, she may well have some shoots popping up well away from the main cluster of stems, which CAN be dug and transplanted, not unlike suckers popping up from apple rootstocks. I've got quite a few blueberries I've started in this manner - and I was eyeing several shoots this afternoon that look like reasonable prospects for digging and transplanting.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:28PM
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I don't doubt what you say. I have only had rabbiteyes for a few years, apparently not long enough to see this phenomenon yet.

My remarks were directed to Jeanne's description of blueberries as "trees". Trees they are not, but whether the new canes are emerging at some distance from the bush is not clear from her description. The tree word suggested to me that she thought they should be limited to only one cane.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 2:11AM
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I'm not certain that it's a significant trait for all rabbiteye types or just this one selection that my Dad rooted for me years ago - and at this point, I have no idea what variety it is, but I've got a dozen or so(I started with 4). Mine sucker fairly frequently, but I've never noticed his 25+ yr-old plants doing so; yeah, they'll throw up a new cane every now & then, but they're usually coming out right at the base - these pop up 6-12 inches or more away from the main clump, and I can dig them and transplant - they come out with small to moderate numbers of rootlets along their underground stem, not unlike plum or apple rootstock suckers.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 10:27PM
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Hello, I would like to revive this thread because I have a rabbiteye for which I recently noticed a runner. It was clearly not a part of the main plant; about 4-6 inches away from the main cluster of canes, and I could take it off with a bit of a root with it.

It is sitting in water right now till I find out what to do with it.

My question, because it has three shoots with a few leaves each. How many leaves do you leave on the shoot before planting it and how often do you water? I believe same principles apply to cuttings I am trying to root as well.

I would appreciate pointers!!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:35PM
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We have about 20 blueberry shrubs, of several varieties, and only one of these sends out runners. It is of the "Friendship" variety, I believe, and it tends to have many small berries. It is about a foot lower than the "Patriot" shrub a few feet away, and it is spreading horizontally. Some of the satellite plants are a foot or so from the base of the main shrub. I have never tried to transplant these, but I bet it could be done. I would dig them up and transplant in the spring, before they have a chance to leaf out.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:51PM
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I'm sorry to inform you that you've probably just killed off your runner. August is NOT a very hospitable time of year to be cutting and transplanting a root sucker of any species(OK, it probably IS the right time to try moving a pawpaw root sucker). You'd have had a much better likelihood of it surviving if you'd waited to move it after it went dormant this fall or early next spring before it came out of dormancy.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 3:09PM
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Lucky, thanks for the info. Since I have it out anyway, I planted it in a small pot yesterday; with some soil and plan to put fertilizer to maintain acidity. Let us see where it goes. I might as well kill it by trying than by giving up :-)

P.S. I would be excited if Gardening Lords smiled upon me!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 1:40AM
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