Does anyone grow blueberries?

joefalco(z8 MB SC)June 14, 2008

I saw some at Walmart today for $1.50 each marked down from 4.50 so I went ahead and bought 3 plants.

Does anyone here grow them and can you offer any suggestions on growing them.. My wife loves blueberries so I figured I would give them a try.

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I have wild blueberries (highbush), and a lot of people cultivate blueberries in this area. The most critical thing they need is acid soil and more than 1 plant for cross pollination. You've already got 3 plants and you've probably got acid soil too, as most soils in the Southeast are acid. Others can chime in more on the cultivated varieties -- I believe both Tammy and John grow blueberries. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 6:16AM
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Yep, I grow them. I need to post a photo of them because this year they made a bumper crop of berries. I swear there are more berries than leaves on most of the bushes.

I didn't do a whole lot of research when I planted my berry patch so I can't offer specific advice. I grow them like Azalea bushes which they are related to. My soil is kinda acid so I didn't need to change it. My yard is only partly sunny but the bushes produce just fine without full sun. I planted a couple of different types. I planted both the taller types and the really small ones but I have since moved the small ones out into the flowerbeds and only grow the tall ones in the berry patch (it just made things easier).

It takes a couple of years to really see how many berries you're gonna get from each bush - though they will produce berries even on their first year sometimes.

You will have to treat the soil when they start to get yellow leaves - some people use special blueberry plant food, some people sprinkle epsom salts. Any garden center that sells blue berry bushes will have it. I only sprinkle mine once each year.

You will need to net the bushes if you want most of the berries. Songbirds will wait until the berries are fully ripe and then clean every one of them off the bushes in one day.

I find them very easy to grow (and even easier to eat!)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 11:01AM
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I bought six (two each of three different types) 15 years ago for my husband's birthday present from Finch's east of Raleigh.The bushes are still going strong and loaded this year, as TJohn said. However, ours are not ripe yet.

We have acid soil but throw some coffee grounds around the bushes a couple of times in the growing season.They benefit from pruning every now and then, but no major work. These are the rabbit eye type with huge berries.

We also have wild high bush around here and several other vaccinium types which I have never bothered to ID since the critters eat those berries. We don't have a bird problem as they seem to prefer the wild berries until the very end. Oh, two bushes come in early, two mid-season, and two late, so we have them almost all summer. I prefer the taste of the early ones, but it has been so long I cannot remember the names of any of the varieties. Good luck in growing them!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 5:24PM
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Excellent replies above, and I don't think this will add much, but it's a good article anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 10:36PM
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Tammy Kennedy

As Alicia said, I grow them, too. They are about the easiest fruit trees/bushes you can grow. Barely any pruning needed, no spraying and hardly any pests (other than things that want the fruit). I do get some kind of caterpillar on them each year now for the past 5 or so- they are red, yellow and black striped, form colonies/groups like tent pillars, but no netting, and curl themselves into a backwards 'c' when disturbed. We clear them out as soon as we notice them and since there's normally only batch a year they don't do irreversible damage. If you don't catch them early they strip fairly large amounts of leaves- don't seem to bother the fruit.

How big the bushes get and what conditions they want depend on the type you bought. Here, rabbiteyes get the biggest- up to 10' eventually. There's a new type called southern highbush that's a hybrid of northern highbush and the southern rabbiteyes that's supposed to do especially well here and are intermediate in size. It's a bit too warm for the northern highbushes to thrive here. I'd venture to guess that rabbiteyes do better with sand than southern highbush. All 5 of mine are rabbiteyes, they've been in the ground about 13+ years in about 5-6 hours of afternoon sun and are now 6-7'. I have premier, tiffblue, climax, powder blue, and one other i can't recall off the top. Most of my soil is clay based, but that corner is rather sandy. As John said, they've set bumper crops this year and are absolutely loaded. It took them about 3 years to really start to produce well. I've noticed the more sun they get the sweeter they get (from other folks' yards). I mulch mine with christmas tree boughs each year, and occasionally do the sulfate stuff (like 1x a year), and if i remember i'll give them a bit of espoma or horse manure. You will want to net your bushes or birds will get the berries. Big boxes sell cheap netting.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 10:06AM
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palmettogal(SE zone8)

I read up on blueberries for our area on Clemson Extension Service website before buying and planting 2 blueberry bushes this spring. I'm guessing the plants are probably already severeal years old (I paid $20 apiece)and I planted them by the instructions on the website, gave them plenty of water and mulch and WHAM, I'm picking delicious blueberries. I was pleasantly surprised how just how many blueberries these 2 plants have produced at only about 2 feet tall. Good luck to you. I think it's worth checking out the extension service information.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 3:58PM
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Brian_M2(z7 NC)

I have six rabbiteyes, and they are 5-6 years old, taller than I am, and absolutely loaded with berries this year. I started picking around June 15th, and since I put in 2 early, 2 midseason and 2 late, the harvest goes until August. I pretty much have to get out there every afternoon. I'm lucky (kinda!) that every year, this one jay stakes out these bushes as his or her own, and runs everything off that tries to come near. Unfortunately, this year, this includes me. Luckily I'm amused by this...I just put on a hat and laugh. It gets to skim off some berries in exchange for protection. It's a good system, I hope it continues!

I did pluck off a couple of stems this year that had some sort of webworm colony on them (never seen these before on these plants), and it seems there are always stinkbugs (or something that looks like them) on the berries, as well as this strange orange bug that looks sort of like a small assassin bug. All of these things are out there every year, so there must be some sort of little ecosystem going on, although I have no idea who is eating who (or what). I'm just thankful for tons of berries this year...last year was not a good one, due to the Easter frosts and of course, the drought.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 10:06AM
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