Number/spacing of blueberry bushes in hedge for berry production

peachygreen(7)April 25, 2011

I am planning a curbside blueberry bush hedge for my semi-urban property and have a few questions to help me plan for decent berry production (understanding these will become dual-use bushes for a neighborhood pedestrian marketplace!).

From my understanding, I need to plant 2-3 varieties for best berry production. I would also like to plant for early, mid, and late season harvest. If I do my math right, this results in the need for a total of 6-9 bushes (assuming they'll fit my urban space).

Since pollen will presumably just blow around, I think planting same-season bushes evenly spaced throughout hedge for balanced curb appeal, i.e., balanced visual of blooms across hedge over time, wouldn't make a difference in pollination. I haven't measured yet, but the hedge would be the length of a typical ranch home. The pollen wouldn't need to "work harder" to get to their destination, right?

Are 2 bushes/varieties enough to boost berry production, or is there a magic "no less than" number for a significant difference? This is important in case I can only cram in a maximum of, say, 6 bushes in my space.

Currently, my local nursery only has early season bushes. When will nurseries have mid and late season bushes? Would there be bushes available in fall/winter? If I don't nab these now, will I have to wait another year before I can get my hands on early season bushes? If so, I guess my hedge won't be going in all at once, but gradually through this summer?

Extra question --

I'm contemplating a mixed hedge planting, like blueberry and azalea. Would that work, or would one type outgrow the other in size/spread as to require superhuman feats of pruning? Or should I just stick with a mixed hedge of different varieties of blueberries?

Thanks!

Peachy Green

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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Plant flowers in between to atract bees to help pollinate them. i dont know spacing but i know they love growing by rock mounds so thy like drainage.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:11PM
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peachygreen(7)

Bus stops! Or rather, lay overs! I love that idea. I'm planning to plant "understory" plants anyway, so this definitely gives me liberty to splurge on the splashy ones. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 9:50PM
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melikeeatplants

Check other nurseries or online for a greater variety of cultivar/seasons....

I ordered from Berries Unlimited and was happy with the plants I got. You can spring extra cash and get a 4-5 year old bush and have a good harvest this year. I got two year old's and have to wait a year. Also, I think bees do a most of pollinating for blueberries, not wind....

"Maine's blueberry crop uses about 50,000 hives each year."

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Edymnion(7a)

I'm just north of you in Chattanooga, and I ended up with a pair of blueberry bushes from Walmart and one of a different variety from an ACE Hardware nursery near the house.

I potted them the first year in a 50/50 mix of miracle grow and peat (they're acid loving, make sure you plant them with some peat), and they grew and produced prolifically.

My aunt has a few "bushes" as well, although they're more like trees at this point. Easily 15 feet tall and 10' wide each. So obviously some winter pruning will be required to keep them as hedges, but it will take several years before they get into bush territory.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 1:43PM
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peachygreen(7)

I spoke to a master gardener this weekend, and he told me that I'm really pushing it now to get shrubs into the ground before it gets too hot. I have way too much prep to do, so will opt to plant my blueberry hedge this fall with dormant plants. That way I can prepare the land, make sure the soil is properly acidic (thanks Edymnion for the peat tip!), etc.

@melikeeatplants, thanks for the idea of looking at online nurseries. I like the idea of splurging on more mature bushes. The master gardener also recommended that I chop off all the blossoms for the first year to boost berry production the second and subsequent years. I don't know if I have the patience to wait three years for berries!!

@Edymnion, funny you should mention your aunt's bushes, er, trees. My friend is giving me two very similar bushes, and I'm looking for someplace out back to transplant them to. They've been growing wild in an understory microclimate. They're pretty mature, so I hope the transplant won't hurt the root system or shock them too much.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 8:52PM
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melikeeatplants

Well good luck! There are lots of reputable online nurseries...below is a link to one I put in an order with earlier this year....just be sure to google search nurseries first. You'd be surprised at the terrible reputations out there...

Here is a link that might be useful: Berries Unlimited

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:15PM
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nhardy(5b)

How tall of bushes are you looking for?? Some get really tall, some are half high and other are dwarfs.

I picked the half high ones that bloom mid season. A bunny ate one of my Chippewa last year. I found my Sams Club had Chippewa this year!! My bluegold is still going strong. The spacing of my plants are based on the varieties I picked.

I agree that you need to prepare your soil now and plant down the road. I picked up a hugh bag of sphagnum peat moss, blood meal, cottonseed meal, garden sulfur, my neighbor's pine needles for mulch and a ph meter.

Here are some link for research:
http://web1.msue.msu.edu/fruit/bbvarbul.htm
http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/Nursery/VarietyChart/SouthernHighbush.htm
http://www.justfruitsandexotics.com/Blueberries.htm

The people on the GW fruit forum can help too. Bluecrisp was a new one they were talking about.

My favorite azaleas are the deciduous exbury azaleas. They are more slow growing upright ones. I have mine in the partial shade. Is your area full sun?? Or does it get any shade?

Here is a link that might be useful: Evaluation of eight low chill blueberries

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:55PM
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