Planting new blueberry bushes-rookie here!

nursejollyApril 4, 2013

So I'm a gardening rookie (southern california) but I bought 2 blueberry plants both in 3 gallon pots. 1 sunshine and 1 oneal. They are fairly good sized with blueberries already on them. I've read that theylike acidic soil and that I should use peat moss. The nursery advised me to buy azalea soil so I bought that. So my question is do I mix 1/3 azalea 1/3 peat moss and native soil? And when you "amend" soil are you amending the whole area before you start planting or just the soil you put back in the hole? Also I've read that I should pinch the fruit and flowers off the first year...should I assume that this plant is older than a year since its in a 3 gallon and has blueberries already or should I just go ahead and pinch off? Thank you in advance for any help!

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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Hello nursejolly,
So these are going in the ground?What's the native soil like,the composition and pH?Does it drain well?
If it's high pH like a lot of California spots,it may be better to grow them in containers,something like they're already in,maybe just a little bigger,like five to ten gallon.That way there isn't as much of a battle to keep the pH favorable.
With container grown Blueberries,I never use native soil,just Pine or Fir bark mulch,peat moss and some Perlite if it's available.60-70% bark mulch and the rest peat.
I've never used Azalea soil.Is it like potting soil,kind of thin like dirt?If so and they're grown in pots,I'd probably not use it,as the mix needs to be fast draining and porous.
I'd also keep the fruit because they are of fairly good size.
I also grow them in the ground and use about the same components as above,minus the Perlite.I suppose the Azalea soil could be used in the ground situation.
It's also a good idea to check the pH of your irrigation water,as that can also affect pH. Brady

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:52AM
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If you grow your bb's in pots, in a recommended soil mix, per Bradybb, in the post above, you will very likely have less of a problem with soil pH issues. It's OK to leave the flowers and blueberries on the shrub, it means that the shrub will grow more slowly during the next 12 months. However, it will not harm the health of the shrub to leave the fruit in place. If you decide to plant these shrubs in the ground, it will take periodic pH testing to be successful. That means learning how to do a soil pH test, and a water pH test(irrigation water). Blueberries will not thrive in alkaline soil, and alkaline irrigation water will raise soil pH, eventually. Your new shrubs will do better if you simply water them in at transplant, with no added fertilizer. It takes 90 days for the disturbed roots to become well established, and then fertilizer can be applied.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:36AM
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fireduck(10a) "Dave Wilson Nursery". They have a great page on growing blueberries. I am growing in pots...and they are doing great. I thin the fruit somewhat.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:43AM
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Thanks for all the responses. Yes I plan to put them in the ground. I do plan to test the pH. I haven't opened the azalea mix bag but apparently it's acidic bc azaleas like acidic soil too. I bought these shrubs from Armstrong nursery and they have a lifetime guarantee!!! So if I butcher these (which I'm praying I don't!) they will replace them for free! Anyways thank you for all the good information. I have alot of space so I want to put them in the ground on the side of my house.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Also my coworker suggested worm castings. Is this necessary?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:08AM
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I have heard only good things about growing with worm castings. The real issue for you is 1-your native soil and 2-your irrigation water. To my knowledge, southern California has alkaline soil, so it would need to be amended to support blueberry shrubs. I'm not sure whether you have hard water or not. If you are on a municipal water supply, there might be an annual water quality report, published and posted online, that will tell you the pH and also the amount of calcium and magnesium present.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:16AM
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What Ive read about growing blues in the ground in SoCal is they actually flood the ground with sulfuric acid to acidify the soil then acidify there irrigation water as well. Sounds like a lot of monkey business to grow blues in the ground there?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:35AM
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