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May 26, 2014 06:17 AM

New(ish) gardener here with a blueberry plant (yikes!)

I live on Long Island. We have every season (in extremes.) Gardening has always been something for me to do with my young daughters. We buy plants, stick them in the ground, and wait to see what happens. Other than that, not much gardening experience. We bought a blueberry plant (the girls got VERY excited over it) and I have no clue what to do with it. Should I even attempt planting it into the ground or should I plant it in a pot and bring it indoors during the winter?? It came with a tag with directions on it (for planting into the ground) but I'm intimidated and the plant is so beautiful (LOTS of blueberries on it already) that I hope to not destroy it. Anyone with advice?

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  1. As Douglas Adams said, don't panic! I live in London where we also have every season, including occasional very cold winters. We have two blueberry plants, at least 10 years old, which are honestly two of the best and easiest plants we have. We get a constant supply of blueberries for breakfast throughout the early summer.

    This post is based on experience rather than expertise. Blueberries like acid soils so whether you plant it out or keep it in a pot depends on your soil type. I wouldn't repot it now if it already has blueberries on it - just give it a bit of liquid feed, then repot later in the year Our plants are in largish pots on a terrace in full sun for a short part of the day and then in semi shade. They are thirsty plants and prefer rainwater to overly chemically tap water, and we have a water butt so we always water from that. However, one thing I learned this year when we had vast amounts of rain for most of the winter is that they don't like sitting in water for a long time so next year if we have the same sort of winter (please, no!) I will put the pots on little blocks or pot feet. One of our plants died back quite a lot and is only now recovering from the extended wet.

    We started with one plant and then I was told that they fruit better if you have two of different varieties – it helps with pollination, evidently. Our second plant fruits a little later than the first extending the eating season. Bees absolutely love blueberries and the flowers come when there is nothing much else in our garden for bees.

    If you want the full expertise, try this

    Enjoy your blueberries!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Londonlinda

      Thank you for your response! The link you posted is extremely informative and helpful! I have left it alone as of right now until I find out the PH level of my soil.

    2. I planted three blueberry bushes 8 years ago and think I have gotten less than one quart of blueberries from each! No, it's not the bush, its the birds, who sit gleefully outside my windows and chortle at the sap who provides them such a feast. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that I had to put nets over them, they had grown too big (yes, I planted them too close together) to join the nets securely, and the feathered robbers always seem to work their way in through a chink somehow. By the way, I'm in CT so vaccinum will do fine outdoors in LI.

      So what would I pass on to an aspiring blueberrist?
      1. Buy compact plants that you can cover completely with a net. (low-bush or hybrid plants--the high-bush varieties can top 7 ft)
      2. Plant them further apart than their expected width.
      3. Do get more than one variety for better pollination.
      4. Put nets on as soon as the green berries appear. Birds will eat green berries as well as ripe ones.
      5. Prune the lower branches so you can tie the nets around the main stem at the bottom.
      6. Put up a sign directing the birds to your neighbor's garden.
      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer

        Thank you so much for this! I will ask the birds nicely to go next door ;-) In the meantime, I will have to find another variety and put that on the patio as well.

        1. re: DonShirer

          Sorry for your pain, but I loved your story. I'm sure the birds love you too! (We have a similar story with squirrels and our apple tree...).

        2. We planted two blueberry bushes when we bought our house 15 years ago. I live at the Jersey Shore and we have very sandy soil. I don't even think we amended the soil. Other than the first summer of planting it, we have done nothing to them. We harvest blueberries every year! Ours are on the north side of our attached garage and are about ten feet tall! I think we will prune them down in the fall to a more reasonable size, but the point is blueberries are very sturdy!

          Personally I would plant it asap rather than force it to suffer the summer heat in a pot.