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Topic: Does anybody grow blueberries?

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Subject: Does anybody grow blueberries?
Date Posted: 1/29/2012 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
Posts: 2,958
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We've had a few blueberry plants for several years now. The plants are nice and healthy but we never get any berries. I'm guessing the soil must not be quite right, but I'm not sure what it's missing. This year we're going to build a nice raised bed to move them to, and also add a few new plants. We'll get new soil from the garden center to fill it in with. Is there some sort of organic fertilizer we can add to it that will help us produce some berries?



Last Edited on: 1/29/12 5:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/29/2012 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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We have wild ones, but the bears get the fruit before I do usually.  Mainly because there is poison ivy up on the hill with them.

Generally, if the plants are not flowering, they need phosphorus.  Feed them azalea or rhododendron food.  They need acid soil so test the soil and correct the pH if you need to. Then, mulch the roots and keep the roots moist but well drained. 

If they flower but they don't make fruit, you may have a fungus like blossom rot.

Hope that helps!

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
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They aren't flowering at all. We had a good laugh actually, because we finally got 1 berry last year. That's the most ever. I mulched them with pine needles last fall hoping that would add some acid to the soil, but now we've just decided to start over with a whole new  garden for them in a different spot. I'll try adding some phosphorus too, thanks for the tip!

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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If you move them, you will start over, they don't flower or make fruit the first year.  They also like to cross polinate so you get more fruit if you have more than one variety.  Don't fertilize the first year either.   Do you live in a hot climate?  They don't do well unless they have cool nights and a good winter for dormancy.  Leave them where they are, give them some azalea food and see what happens.

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
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We decided to start the new bed with new plants (I just ordered more so we'll have 2 different varieties there) and leave the other ones where they're at. Then if the new ones do better we can move the old ones. There are at least 3 different kinds where the old ones are. We're in Minnesota so they definitely get cool nights and cold winters. I'll try the azalea food on the other ones. It won't hurt to add some acid to the new garden will it? I'm thinking the soil is probably going to be pretty neutral. I may add some peat moss to it too. Thanks so much for the tips, I'll let you know how they do.

We don't have much of a bear problem here, but a lot of deer. Hopefully they'll leave them alone. We'll have apple trees near the new spot so maybe that will distract them. smiley

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
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I live in Oregon, in the Willamette Valley.  I bought a blueberry bush and put it into a pot with a raspberry bush.  (Don't ever do that!)  Anyway, I used a good soil that had manure in it and I fertilize often.  The fertilizer for rhodies and azaleas is usually 30-10-10 which is high in Nitrogen.  I use something more like 20-40-20.  I mix fertilizers together to try to get 30-40-30.  Phosphorus, the middle number, is for blooms.  I used to work at an indoor garden store but we carried a few outdoor plants. 

Two years ago, I had a wonderful crop of berries.  I trimmed all the raspberry brush way back and focused on the blueberries.  Last year I did the opposite and got some raspberries but the deer ate a number of them as well as the foliage.  I may get another big pot and some other type of blueberry just for variety and fun.  They need lots of light and lots of water.  I put the hose in the pot and let it soak very well especially when it is hot outside.  But remember that more water makes the fertilizer run out so you must fertilize well and often.  I do not have any planted in the ground.  We have mostly clay soil here which is terrible but we mix it really well with a good soil and add perlite to keep the soil from clumping around the roots.  We get a lot of rain here so the perlite helps to form air pockets around the roots to keep them from rotting.

I have always had blueberries except for last year when I focused on the raspberries.  I won't do that again!  The deer love the leaves and fruit even though it has thorns.  But last year I did not plant a garden where the deer could graze in as I had been doing in the past.  Usually I plant a lot of green veggies for them to eat but I was tired last year.  I did mulch like I do every year.  There is a spray that deters deer but it really stinks! 

Date Posted: 4/4/2012 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
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Thanks Priscilla! We're still waiting for our new plants to arrive, but we ended up building a bigger box around the plants we have. So I fertilized the existing plants with some fertilizer the nursery gave me that's supposed to be great for blueberries - I hope it will help. And we have plenty of space to add the new plants once they get here, so we didn't have to disturb the old plants too much and will have a new space for the new plants. Wish me luck! I told DH if they don't start producing in the next couple years I'm going to take them all out and plant asparagus.

Date Posted: 4/7/2012 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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I am 'rooting' for your blueberries.  Priscilla, my azalea food is meant for the flowering time and is 20-40-20.  Whatever you get should have a higher middle number, that's the phosphorus.  Our peak for blueberries in this area is August, looking forward to lemon cake with fresh blueberries, yum!

Date Posted: 11/16/2012 8:36 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2012
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Blueberries have shallow roots which require that they be watered often.  They also want an acidic soil.  This requires an additive of sulphur.  Problem being that sulphur doesn't stay put. 

Your best bet is t take a soil test and send it to your local University Coop Extention office.  They will send you the results of the test and then you can contact the master gardener at the Coop to find out exactly what you need to do. 

Good Luck.  The rabbits still get my blueberries before I do.

Date Posted: 12/15/2012 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
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I wish I could grow them here!  I tried for a couple of years, figuring that if Lowe's carried the bushes they must be able to grow here (North Texas).  No luck.

Priscilla,  I've heard that planting spicy peppers around the edges of your garden will deter deer & rabbits without harming them.

Date Posted: 1/2/2013 8:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
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They didn't do anything for us last summer but we had a gawd awful hot summer and my whole garden didn't do very well. I know we have very alkaline soil here so it's been a battle to get the soil right for them. I will give it another shot next year though! I am sure I didn't water enough and will try adding sulfer too.

Date Posted: 4/5/2013 4:12 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2006
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Do you have any evergreen plants around that need to be chopped down?  We took out some big overgrown juniper bushes and the soil was WAY over acidic!  We had to lime the heck out of it to get it anywhere near neutral.

Date Posted: 6/1/2013 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
Posts: 2,958
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We have a couple evergreen shrubs that DH pulled out of the yard with his truck last summer - they were about 6 ft. tall. They've been sitting towards the back of our property, now all red. I've been trying to get DH to chip them to use as mulch in my blueberry bed but so far he hasn't.  I did put some soil acidifier in this spring and several of the plants are blooming so we might actually be turning a corner with them.