blueberry question

mommie_roseJanuary 2, 2008

Hi Guys, just a few questions on blueberries. I recently moved and want to plant a bush or two in my new yard.

Can I just have one bush or should I have two for pollination?

What is the best type of bush suited for our climate?

What is the best catalog to order it/them from? Or is it better to buy local? If so, where would I go in the Milw. area?

If anyone can help or direct me toward some help I would greatly appreciate it. I checked in the "edible landscape" forum, but it didn't look like much was shakin there.

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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Hello MR.
I tried blueberries and failed. I think they were both from Steins, I didn't know much about growing them and had them in a bad spot.
I know that you need at least two bushes.
Hopefully you'll manage to keep them alive long enough to get berries and are able to harvest before the birds do.

Good luck!

Rich

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:30PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Well mommie rose, welcome back. Glad you now have soil to play in. Couple of things with blueberries. They need acid soil and even moisture (relatively shallow roots). And not only do you need two plants for best production, I believe two different varieties are best (similar bloom time). I use peat moss and elemental sulphur to acidify this SE Wisc soil. The varieties you get will depend on how much space you have. The link below is to Stark Bros. Nursery. They have a mediocre rating at "Dave Garden", but I've always had good luck with them.

tj

Here is a link that might be useful: Stark Bros.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 6:10PM
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mommie_rose

Thanks, guys!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 1:05PM
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justaguy2(5)

I tried various garden center blueberries and they failed. It wasn't until I ordered the large (3 year old) bushes from Raintree that I had consistent success.

They have good descriptions of each and what climates they are best suited for. I suggest a spring planting (they will hold your order until it's planting time) so you can order early to be sure they don't run out before you order.

I grow mine by digging a hole 1 foot deep and 2 feet in diameter and filling with 90% spaghnum peat, 10% native soil. That neatly takes care of the acidity issue. Each year I lightly apply some elemental sulfur to counteract the surrounding soil's tendency to raise the pH of the growing soil.

Fertility is applied via an annual (spring) topdressing of osmocote (lightly worked into the soil) and a few liquid feeds of Neptune Harvest Fish emulsion to be sure all the minor nutrients are present as well. Osmocote may be replaced with any controlled release fertilizer you can find locally.

Very important is to never let the soil dry out. Blueberries are goofy in that they do not produce feeder roots (the long, thin hair roots). This means they are very inefficient at taking up water (and thus nutrients). This is why they need to be kept in moist soil for best results.

I accomplish this by using 2 liter soda bottles attached to those watering spikes that get buried in the ground. I just fill the 2 liter bottle up and let it soak in about once per week when it isn't raining. I also mulch over the planted area a couple inches to help keep the roots cool and moist.

Just spring plant so they have time to establish before winter, keep them mulched for cool, moist roots and plant in mostly peat for acidity and you are good to go.

Also, have at least 2 varieties near each other for best pollination. Home grown blueberries are the best!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 3:47PM
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mommie_rose

Thank you, Justaguy! Lots of good info. I'll check Raintree.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 10:54AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Wow, with such a nice explanation I'm almost tempted to try again. One problem remains, are you able to get any berries before the birds do??

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 1:11PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

In the Milw area, I would think it would be warm enough to get away with plant most any higbush blueberry type and all Minnesota bred half-high types(Northblue, Northsky, North Country, Chippewa, St. Cloud, etc.). For most of the rest of Wisconsin, I think you'll need to stick with the half-highs in the north, and the rest of the state: half-highs or these more cold hardy highbush cultivars - Patriot, Chandler, Northland, Elliot.

There are blueberries called Southern blueberries or Rabbit-eye blueberries. These, of course, are only for the southern half of the U.S.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 3:57PM
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justaguy2(5)

Wow, with such a nice explanation I'm almost tempted to try again. One problem remains, are you able to get any berries before the birds do??

Yes, in fact (knock on wood) I never have birds bother my berries or anything else. I have several bird feeders and a bird bath to attract birds. My grapes, blueberries and raspberries are all plants I have heard of birds bothering, but they don't touch them. Well, I think they might get sampled a little, but it's never been enough of a problem for me to cover them with netting or such.

I think this is one of those things where everyone's experience is a bit different.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 8:56PM
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lyndy(4/5)

Hi,I love those tiny blueberries. I saw them a lot in Maine as Wild Maine blueberries. A couple of years ago a friend bought some land in Warren, WI. and mentioned she has wild blueberries growing in her woods, she said they were very sweet, but tiny. These sound just like the Wild Maine berries I like, but have never been able to find a source for Wild Wisconsin blueberries. I bought some Wild Maine Blueberry seeds in Maine, figuring we have pretty much the same weather, but have never gotten the seeds to sprout. I have lots of woods and would love to introduce some wild blueberries. Does anyone know anything on how to do this, or a source for the plants? I don't live close enough to this friend to ask her for any.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 8:48AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Wild Maine blueberries are the same species as wild Wisconsin ones (or Minnesota's). But there probably are some differences in the genetics, and the WI natives would be better for reasons not necessarily known, but a good bet. Whereas germination rates could possibly be a difference, it's quite doubtful. Try giving the seed 2-3 months cold-moist stratification before sprouting.

You should be able to harvest seed from blueberries you pick to eat, or blueberries you buy, although you will almost never see the wild type for sale. Mascerate them and discard seeds that float. They are not viable.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 4:16PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

I was paging through Jung's catalog yesterday, and what did I see?

Friendship blueberry, released by the U of WI. I didn't even know the U of W had a blueberry breeding program. Anyone tried it? Or perhaps others from the U of W? Or know anything about them?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 4:22PM
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justaguy2(5)

Hadn't heard of Friendship Blueberry, but sound promising, if not a bit on the small side. With hardiness to zone 3 and only 2'x2' it might be worth a try in a container as well as the ground.

U of W comes up with some amazing blueberries, though not that often. My wife's grandfather used to be an ag prof at UW Madison and he is the guy I learned how to grow blueberries from. His were a university grown variety (no idea the name) and they were 25 years old and still producing heavily.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 10:18PM
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mommie_rose

Alright guys, I think I'm ready to order my bushes! I'm thinking of going with Blueray and Patriot. Any last-minute advice? I'm kind of nervous about making the wrong choice.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:34AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Just hunting around to see if bloom times will coincide. Michigan U has a good overall site on blueberries:
http://web1.msue.msu.edu/fruit/bbvarbul.htm
They also say here that Patriot is very early blooming and flowers might be nipped by frost in MI. Don't know if that would be a concern for WI or not. Blueray and Patriot are both early season, so bloom times should overlap well.

Just happened to find this at the Mich U site:
Friendship is a wild clone from Wisconsin that was released because it is unusually cold hardy for a highbush type; however, it has very small, dark fruit and has not performed better than half-high types in Minnesota.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 4:26PM
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mommie_rose

Thanks, Leftwood. I was having a difficult time finding blueray when I was looking at catalogs online yesturday. Now I can pour over all this wonderful info for like a week! For once I'm glad we live in such a cold area, so now I have more time to study! :-)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 5:54PM
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erin_jennings

I just moved down the road from my old, well-established farm house and yard to a new yard and am starting from scratch. I too have been considering blueberries and have been wondering what to plant. There is a blueberry farm, Blue Ridge Growers, in River Falls, WI and they might be a good resource. Their phone is 715-425-8289 or email blueridge@sbwireless.net. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 4:38PM
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ericwi

We have 25 blueberry shrubs, & I have been growing this plant more or less successfully since 1994, here in Madison, Wisconsin. I have one Friendship, it gets about 3 feet high, with many small berries. Its a pain to pick, because the berries are so small, but the shrub is healthy, and it is my only shrub that spontaneously spreads. Our soil is fairly high in clay, so it gets amended with either peat moss or composted tree leaves. I mix about 50/50 by volume, dirt and compost. The hole is dug double depth, and the bottom half of the hole gets a cup of soil sulfur, mixed in well with enough dirt to fill the hole halfway. The top half of the hole gets the compost/soil mixture, and of course the shrub. Our tap water contains dissolved limestone, & I have learned the hard way that it cannot be used to irrigate our blueberry shrubs. If hard water is used on blueberry shrubs, the pH will rise, the leaves will turn yellow, & eventually, the shrub will die. However, if the hard tap water is pre-treated with vinegar, or some other acid, it can be used successfully. Our tap water requires 6 fluid ounces of white vinegar(from the grocery store,5%) to treat 4 gallons of water.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:13AM
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kayemdee(4b)

Thank you for that very helpful post ericwi. I too live in Dane Co., have clay soil and have been researching this to death, in the hope that I will not kill my new blueberry plants!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 5:06PM
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datura-07

I've been thinking I should try them. Do they need full sun?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 8:51AM
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justaguy2(5)

Yes, in our part of the world, they do.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 12:16AM
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goberrypicking2day

Can blueberries be found in Tamarac tree areas? The ground is very mossy soft in amongst the trees.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 1:44PM
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maplerbirch(4)

"Posted by goberrypicking2day none (My Page) on Tue, Jan 3, 12 at 13:44

Can blueberries be found in Tamarac tree areas? The ground is very mossy soft in amongst the trees. "
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Around here in Central WI, we have areas called Blueberry Hill. That was before the deer herd increased and destroyed most of the bushes. I've found them near the bottom of hills, but it is unlikely they would grow in wetlands.

They can't have their feet wet. :)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 5:15PM
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